Youth Movement Will Hurt Habs in 2014-15

Though it unfolded like a bag full of surprises less than two weeks ago, the departure of veteran players like Daniel Briere, Brian Gionta, and Josh Gorges was actually pretty predictable from where I stand.

Despite endorsing the signing of Daniel Briere one year ago as being a risk worth taking, the truth of the matter is that the Canadiens are fairly deep at the center-ice position. Not only are they deep, but with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk both under age 25, they are also young and in need of ice time to develop.

Naturally, such a predicament would put a player like Daniel Briere in limbo considering he is 35 and excels pretty exclusively in the offensive zone. Having Briere play third or fourth line minutes just isn’t a sustainable situation for Briere or the Habs. Unfortunately, without a defined role in Montreal, 4 million dollars is a lot of money to pay a player in the salary cap era. Thus, I can appreciate why he was dealt to Colorado in exchange for P.A. Parenteau.

(Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

(Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

In the case of ex captain Brian Gionta, most would probably agree that his time with the Canadiens was indeed coming to a close. Unless Gionta was willing to accept less dollars and a smaller term attached to his next contract, the Habs were better served spending those hypothetical dollars elsewhere.

Brian Gionta Canadiens

(Icon SMI)

The trade that sent Josh Gorges to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a second round pick was likely the most shocking move made by Marc Bergevin. Still, if you break it down, you can appreciate the logic behind this deal. Although many pegged Gorges to wear the C in Montreal one day, almost four million dollars a year is a lot of money to pay a depth defenseman, even if he does bring many intangibles to the table.

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

(Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

As the 2014-15 regular season approaches, many pundits will claim that a “changing of the guard” is now in effect. Many will say that the Habs have a void with regards to their leadership core. Perhaps they are right to a degree.

Although longtime Habs like Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, and Carey Price remain in the fold, it is now evident that Marc Bergevin is turning his team over to its youth. Specifically, I believe the time has come for a core group led by P.K. Subban to assert itself more prominently in leadership positions. That’s right! Names like Gallagher, Eller, Galchenyuk will be looked upon to shoulder blame during times of trouble.

(Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

(Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

Unfortunately, it would be naïve and foolish to expect this new core to perform flawlessly with such added responsibility. Many people tend to forget that when expectations rise, the margins for error decrease as well.

By no means am I predicting that this “changing of the guard” will be an unsuccessful one, but I would just like to caution Montreal’s Stanley Cup hungry fan base. Especially after a lengthy run to the conference finals in the 2014 playoffs, there should indeed be much optimism in Habs country, but as NBC’s Pierre McGuire always stresses, it’s important to “manage expectation levels”.

By now you can probably taste the flavor of this piece. Looking towards next season, I am preparing for the Canadiens to take a small step backwards in 2014-15 following the subtraction of three unsung veterans who provided stability in the dressing room during the team’s highest and lowest points in past years.

But hey, that’s just me! What do you think? Is Montreal’s new leadership core ready to step in and fill the void that has been left behind after Marc Bergevin parted ways with Daniel Briere, Brian Gionta, and Josh Gorges?

As always, your comments are welcome!

David P. Stein
David is currently a second year Arts student at McGill University and aspires to have a career as a sports journalist one day. When he's not covering the Montreal Canadiens for THW, he is the sports producer for TVMcGill and the host of his very own show called "On The Line with David Stein." He is also a frequent contributor to the McGill Tribune.
David P. Stein
RT @McGillAthletics: McGill Redmen baseball beat the UNB Cougars 8-0. #CCBA2014 # nationals #to ckthered - 9 hours ago

6 Comments

  1. I believe the habs will take a small step backwards.

    But Carey Price will be Carey Price and they’ll still make the playoffs.

    The young prospect forwards are probably a year away from having an impact on the roster, so the habs might suffer in the goal scoring department.

    Beaulieu and Gilbert are gonna make the defense more mobile and this hopefully improves their breakouts, cause they got hemmed in their zone a lot with Murray and Gorges playing big minutes.

    Bergevin still has some assets to trade (even if it’s for mid-round picks). Moen and Bourque are on their way out. And he could still pull a trade out of his hat.

    Overall, they are a better team, but they’ll probably score less goals this year. But they’ll be back in full force for the 2015-2016 season, where I predict Galchenyuk will come into his own as one of the best young players in the NHL.

  2. It’s 1 roster spot for all of the above mentioned prospects to compete for. I am also stating that IF 2 of these guys are ready to make the jump and contribute; which is a possibility regardless of thought processes. Nobody expected 5’9 Gallagher to make the infamous ‘smurf Canadiens’. Very few had the thought of trading ‘future captain’ Gorges as a possibility. Just losing a future pp cog like Diaz for a spare part in Weise was a bad trade. Its sentimentality from most fans that over value and overshadow the actual impact and value of players. If Tinordi & Beaulieu are deemed NHL ready by management. Say goodbye to Emelin.

    I for one am happy MB is in charge and making the right moves; regardless of popularity. Asset management and addition by subtraction seem to be his specialty. I will enjoy watching the sentimental and nostalgic squirm as Bergy shuffles his deck into optimal proficiency.

    And, for the record, Both Sekac and DLR are very very close to NHL ready. *Single tear..

  3. Forgot to mention getting rid of Vanek. Good riddance! Lazy hack. The Wild can have that loser!

  4. p.s. Gio won’t be missed.

    Thx

  5. pfff

    Imo, MB is making all the right moves. As far as Im concerned more can be made. Bourque, Moen, and one of Eller or Plek depending on top 6 winger in return. Proper asset management to facilitate Galchenyuk to center.

    Here’s to Tinordi and Beaulieu making Emelin expendable as well. The farm is full of potential! And, Craig Rivet is the gift that keeps on giving!

    Malhotra becomes the Habs best bottom 6 center since Yanic Perrault for faceoff percentage. The type of player the Habs have been trying to draft & develop for a decade. He’s going to add a vital dimension to the Habs that some fans have forgotten .

    Gorges. Meh. Gilbert is an immediate improvement to the roster. I really didn’t want Gorges as the captain. He tried to hard, imo. Like he was playing the role of a leader instead of being one. I always expected him to faint from strain when answering questions. Just my 2 cents. Essentially the trade is; Gorges & White VS Gilbert, Malhotra and a 2nd round pick. With a lil raise for securing Weaver.

    With trade options and Sekac, Andrighetto, De la Rose and maybe even Scherbak or McCarron vying for a top 9 role. MB will have flexibility and depth to work with. Imo this team will look different come preseason and we’ll be mighty confident.

    The Booins and Pens off seasons have me feeling like the Habs are at the beginning of a period of dominance in the East.

    • I have been seeing many comments like this recently. Personally I think you are putting WAAAAAAAAAAY too much faith in the habs prospect pool to step up and contribute. The habs have to stop rushing prospects to the NHL. De La Rose was okay in the SEL, but he was a long, long ways from dominant or even great. McCarron was far from dominant in the OHL, in fact you might say he struggled. Yet you think these guys have a chance at the top 9 in the NHL? Get real, man. Beaulieu and Tinordi have not proven anything or rendered anyone expendable either, so I think you are a little early in handing them the reins when they can’t even hold down a top 6 spot on D.

      It boggles the mind how some habs fans want to gut this team to give the young, unproven, not-ready guys a chance. Hamilton is for player development, not Montreal. Scherbak, De La Rose and McCarron have absolutely NO business in the NHL next year. Let them develop for geez sakes.

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