The reset period, to use the term used by Marc Bergevin, is over. The Canadiens general manager found the pieces that were missing from his puzzle. Nothing says, however, that it won’t be forced to replace a few over time. Other changes are still possible. It will go according to the results.
• Read also: 2021 NHL Special Report: The Canadian Can Aim High
However, for the first time in a long time, the Habs have a homogeneous formation. Not perfect, no, but built to cope with the demands of the National League.
The team leaders are optimistic. They don’t just say their goal is to make the playoffs.
If the team misses its shot, we can talk about failure all along the line. Heads will roll and no need to say which ones.
Does the Canadian really have what it takes to hope to see it through to the end, as Claude Julien thinks?
Time will tell.
As the old saying goes, it is played on ice.
But there is reason to believe that the formation assembled by Bergevin can stand out. The latter has met the dire needs he identified at the end of last season.
Strong goalie duo
Let’s start with the keepers.
The arrival of Jake Allen should give Julien more latitude. Being able to count on two experienced and solid goalkeepers will be essential in this unusual season.
The matches will come very quickly. The 56-game schedule is condensed into a 116-day window. The two-game, two-night, three-game, four-day, and four-game weeks are plentiful.
Allen will have to score victories.
Over the past four seasons, Price has been in goal for 115 of the Canadiens’ 151 wins, for a 76% percentage. He will need the evenings off to be fresh in the playoffs.
In this regard, we have seen the effects that the pause caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had on him when he resumed activities last season. He played at the peak of his ability.
But while he was blocking puck after puck, his teammates struggled to score goals.
Bergevin saw it.
He went to look for two attackers established in the prime of their lives. Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli are not only capable of scoring about twenty goals per season, they also bring a dimension that the Habs were sorely lacking. They are built for hard work.
In defense, the acquisition of Joel Edmundson allows the Canadian to bet on four defenders measuring 6-3 or more inches and weighing more than 205 pounds.
It will be interesting, on the other hand, to follow the progress of Alexander Romanov. The young man has a dog. He is happy to live in Montreal and to wear the colors of the CH.
I have the impression that he could be liked quickly. In a few years, he could make up for the loss of Mikhail Sergachev, traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning three years ago, in the deal that brought Jonathan Drouin to Montreal.
The strength of young people
At 21, Romanov has a whole future ahead of him.
So are Nick Suzuki, who is the same age, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who is 20 years old. If these three players reach the potential we see in them, we will see them with the Canadiens for several years.
In the case of Suzuki, Bergevin obviously got his hands on a pearl. He has the ability to be a center of first line. He could be the player who could get Drouin produced. The duo should be well served by Anderson’s big build and scoring skills.
Kotkaniemi, for his part, took a big step forward in the Stanley Cup tournament. He became an NHL player. We felt him more at ease, more confident, more solid and more bellicose. He will be well supervised with Joel Armia and Toffoli.
Finally, the trio of Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher is well established. Danault and Tatar will play for new contracts, which will add to their determination.
In short, the season of the Canadian promises to be interesting. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a Habs team generate so much interest.
The potential is real.
The first goal is to earn a place in the playoffs, but the team is better equipped to make it happen.
Unlike in previous years, Bergevin did not acquire players with uncertain possibilities. He knew deep down that his team didn’t have what it took to make the playoffs and win.
The situation has changed.
Amateurs want to believe it. The Canadian will be able to compete with his rivals in the Canadian division, a beautiful prospect that has become possible due to the health restrictions caused by the cursed pandemic we are living through.
The return to the game of the National League will furnish our evenings.
To your TVs!