In this week’s HW Recap: Capping off the Habs
season with the final grades for the forwards, one of which played a key role in
the Bulldogs moving onto the 3rd round early in the week. Plus, the latest
on the Kirk Muller and Alexei Yemelin situations while the Final Thought looks
into whether the Habs should consider bringing Jaromir Jagr back to the NHL.
As the Habs are now finished for the season,
I’m going to use the section normally reserved for the weekly Player Rankings to
give my grades for the season. This week, the Habs’ forwards.
A It seemed as if a lot of fans were writing him off prior to the
year in that he’d just be a mediocre bottom-6 forward. Pacioretty went a
long way in changing those thoughts as he had a breakout campaign that
unfortunately was cut short far too soon. Him being healthy may have
changed the Habs’ fortunes vs Boston, he was having that good of a season.
Season: 37 GP, 14-10-24, -1, 39 PIMS
Tomas Plekanec: A- Offensively it was a
good campaign for the player who received the longest contract in franchise
history. However, his inconsistencies defined his postseason. His
faceoff play was spotty at best and although he didn’t get completely shutout in
Round 1 on the scoreboard, he was hot and cold in that stretch too.
Season: 77 GP, 22-35-57, +8, 60 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 2-3-5, -1, 2 PIMS
David Desharnais: B+ He earned
himself a callup with his strong play in Hamilton and it’s safe to say he won’t
be going back next year. He added a boost of offence early on although
that did tail off at the end of the season. His performance in the final
couple of playoff games was certainly encouraging though.
Season: 43 GP, 8-14-22, -3, 12 PIMS
Playoffs: 5 GP, 0-1-1, E, 2 PIMS
Mike Cammalleri: B He was a
frustrating player for most of the season as his offence was so streaky.
At times, he was an All-Star while at others, he didn’t look like he belonged
anywhere near the top-6. Fortunately, he once again upped his game in the
playoffs and was the league leader in scoring at the end of the 1st round.
Season: 69-19-28-47, +2, 33 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 3-7-10, -5, 0 PIMS
Mathieu Darche: B He easily could
have won the award for the Habs’ Most Unsung Hero (the Jacques Beauchamp award)
as he wound up playing in virtually every role at some point this season.
It’s clear he can’t be a regular in the top-6 but he certainly can be a useful
tertiary scorer, something the Habs have lacked for a long time.
Season: 59 GP, 12-14-26, +7, 10 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 1-1-2, -1, 0 PIMS
Andrei Kostitsyn: B You know what
you’re going to get from Kostitsyn – completely unpredictable and inconsistent
play. (It’s kind of sad that this is the lone constant with him.) However, every year he has a decent goal and point total which isn’t
a terrible thing for a 2nd liner. His postseason performance was a step up
from 2009-10 as well which was a nice sign to see.
Season: 81 GP, 20-25-45, +3, 36 PIMS
Playoffs: 6 GP, 2-0-2, E, 6 PIMS
Brian Gionta: B- The good news is
that he had more goals than last season and the same number of points. The
bad news? It took him 21 more games to hit that same point mark and he
only eclipsed his goal total by one. Yes, there were lots of good comments
about his leadership in the locker room but the captain does need to produce
more on the ice.
Season: 82 GP, 29-17-46, +3, 24 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 3-2-5, -6, 0 PIMS
Jeff Halpern: B- He tailed off after
a hot start offensively and then spent most of the final third of the season
being used as a winger, a position he rarely played in years past. But
this was his best offensive season since 07-08 and he was strong as usual on the
draw…when they let him take faceoffs. For $600k, he turned out to be
quite the bargain.
Season: 72 GP, 11-15-26, +6, 29 PIMS
Playoffs: 4 GP, 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIMS
Lars Eller: C+ Though it’s unfair to
say his season was a disappointment, I think it’s fair to say more was expected
from the Danish rookie. The decision was made to make him focus on his
defence though and he did make some significant positive strides in that
department. I just hope that doesn’t hinder his offence later on in his
Season: 77 GP, 7-10-17, -4, 48 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-2-2, +1, 4 PIMS
Tom Pyatt: C His season didn’t start
off particularly well but he got a lot better as the year went on. His
problem though continues to be his overall ineptness in the offensive end.
He has the potential to be an adequate scorer too as evidenced by his numbers in
junior and even with Hamilton but until that happens, he’s basically just a
Season: 61 GP, 2-5-7, -1, 9 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIMS
Ryan White: C Early on, he was simply
awful with the Habs which earned him a quick demotion back to the Bulldogs.
After that though, White was more of the player Montreal needed him to be which
was pretty much a player who wasn’t afraid to hit. He took a step forward
in the playoffs leaving me to hope that he can at least be a serviceable 4th
liner next season.
Season: 27 GP, 2-3-5, +5, 38 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIMS
Benoit Pouliot: C You may think I’m
nuts not giving him a lower grade but when you look at the numbers, he was one
of the Habs’ best 5-on-5 performers this season. To me, on a team bereft
of a lot of those guys, it has to count for something. That said, the
discipline was a problem and to say he and the coach aren’t on the best of terms
is an understatement. I’d be surprised if he returns next year.
Season: 79 GP, 13-17-30, +2, 87 PIMS
Playoffs: 3 GP, 0-0-0, E, 7 PIMS
Travis Moen: C In his defence, he
spent way too much time being used as a top-6 forward, something that pretty
much everyone knew wouldn’t work out. One would think though that seeing
extra ice time on scoring lines would result in more offensive success though.
That didn’t happen as he had the fewest goals in points since 2008 and sadly,
his physical game wasn’t as good as it needed to be for most of the year.
Season: 79 GP, 6-10-16, -4, 96 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 2 PIMS
Scott Gomez: D+ I honestly don’t
think he played as bad as his numbers (especially his +/-) indicate; there was
some bad luck in there. However, he did contribute to his own misfortune
and when you’re making $8 million, it isn’t too unrealistic to expect double
digits in goals (unless you’re a goalie). I expect him to rebound with the
Habs next season although that shouldn’t take much.
Season: 80 GP, 7-31-38, -15, 48 PIMS
Playoffs: 7 GP, 0-4-4, -6, 2 PIMS
N/A Dustin Boyd, Aaron Palushaj, Nigel
Dawes, Andreas Engqvist (not enough GP)
The good news? Hamilton was able to get
by Manitoba in Round 2 although it took them the full 7 games to do so.
The bad news? They were unable to win one of the two games on the road and
now face elimination on home ice.
There wasn’t a whole lot of
offence to speak of but for what there was, the attack was nicely balanced.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||4||0||1||+1||16||2|
Goals: Nigel Dawes (9)
Assists: Aaron Palushaj (9)
Points: Nigel Dawes (15)
+/-: Andreas Engqvist (+7)
PIMS: Alex Henry/Andrew Conboy (30)
Shots: Nigel Dawes (52)
May 17: Game 3 in Hamilton
May 18: Game 4 in Hamilton
May 20: Game 5 in Hamilton*
May 22: Game 6 in Houston*
May 24: Game 7 in Houston*
* – if necessary
Montreal’s ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers,
were eliminated in 6 games by the Kalamazoo Wings in the Conference Finals of
the Kelly Cup playoffs. The two players who were eligible to play for
Hamilton in their postseason (Peter Delmas and David Urquhart) have been
recalled to the Bulldogs.
– The Habs
signed D Raphael Diaz
to a 1 year, $900,000 contract. The 25 year old Swiss blueliner has spent
the last 8 years playing in the Swiss pro league. My original thought when
the signing happened was that he’d likely be Hamilton bound but I must admit the
reports on him are intriguing. Though I still think he may start in
Hamilton, if he’s as good as he sounds, he may not be there for long.
– Diaz was one of 5 Habs players/prospects who played in the Worlds which
wrapped up on Sunday with Tomas Plekanec earning himself a bronze medal.
Check out their full stats and player notes in the
– Alexei Yemelin, another prospect in that tournament, was injured in the 3rd
place game against the Czechs. There are many reports saying he already
has a deal done with the Habs but that it couldn’t be announced until Russia was
eliminated. Officially, talks are supposed to happen on Tuesday so we
should know more sometime around then.
– So far, 3 teams have sought and received permission from the Habs to interview
Kirk Muller for their vacant coaching positions. I suspect that it will be
a while yet before we hear who winds up hiring him as generally a lot of news of
that type doesn’t get announced until after the playoffs.
One of the other signing rumours from the
Worlds surrounds former NHL’er Jaromir Jagr and that he’d be interested in
playing for the Habs. In fact, in an interview after the Bronze Medal
Game, he listed Montreal as a team he’d be interested in playing for (along with
two of his old teams, Pittsburgh and the Rangers). So the question
becomes, should the Habs be interested in signing him?
Of course, a lot of it will depend on money. The Habs do have a lot of cap
space this offseason but if you haven’t looked at our free agent list on the
front page yet, when you do you’ll notice that the majority of the team is
either restricted or unrestricted so there isn’t quite as much money available
as you may think. That aside, does he fit on the roster?
I honestly don’t think he would, as much as I think it would be nice to have him
next year. The Habs system is predicated on speed and two-way play.
To say these are Jagr’s weaknesses would be putting it lightly. Yes, he
has shown he has the offensive skill to still help an NHL team and it would be
naive of me to suggest the Habs don’t need any offensive help. I just
wonder though how much leeway he would need (and get) to work outside of the
system because in all likelihood, he won’t be able to play in it.
I can’t sit here and say I’d be upset if the Habs were to bring him back to the
NHL, particularly since I think he has a whole lot left than a similar player
who some already are calling for the Habs to bring back, that being Alexei
Kovalev. But I think there may very well be better fits out there on the
free agent market that may not be as good offensively but fit in well with the
type of style the Habs play.
If you have any questions/comments, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]