Last month, our writers took a look at who some of the most underrated Habs
are and came up with several different names. Today, we flip the tables
and look at some of the most overrated Canadiens. Although we didn’t all
pick different players this time around, there were still quite a few different
suggestions, ranging from depth forwards to core pieces of the team.
Matt Dilworth: As much as I am a Carey Price fan, I have to
think that he is the most overrated Hab. This is not to say that he is
without value; I just believe that the majority of hockey fans consider him
among the league’s quasi-elite, and his performance thus far hasn’t cemented
that status in my mind. Price’s career numbers (151-121-40, 2.54 GAA, .916 SV%) are good, but not great, and certainly undeserving of the automatic Olympic
team nod he gets from many media outlets and hockey critics. In my mind,
until he starts earning his salary (at $5.75M, it is the 9th among NHL goalies),
either by winning multiple playoff rounds or improving his personal stats, Price
will remain one of the most overrated players in Montreal.
Luca LaPorta: In my opinion, I think that the most overrated
Hab player is David Desharnais. He had one good season a few years ago,
but the Montreal staff decided to make him one of their go-to guys by signing
him to a four year contract worth $3.5 M a year, which is too much for a player
like him. I also think he is overrated because of the
numbers he put up the year after his breakout campaign. Last season he did
not produce as much as the Habs fanbase thought he was going to.
Desharnais only produced 28 points in 48 games played, playing nearly 17 minutes
a game including plenty of powerplay time (2:53/game) as well.
Brian La Rose: The easy answer at this time is Desharnais so
instead of going that way and repeating what others have said, I’ll pick a
different player and go with Daniel Briere. For some reason, there were
some fans and media members who assumed that playing at home would suddenly
revitalize a career in decline. The Habs may very well have been Briere’s
dream team but when you’re 36 years old, the wear and tear on the body is going
to supersede any of the extra adrenaline that comes about when the jersey gets
put on. I still think Briere can be a contributor for Montreal but not as
a front line primary player as he was used early on this season. He’s a
secondary player at this stage of his career, regardless of what his reputation
and excitement level is.
Matt Macaskill: I have to go with David Desharnais as the
Canadiens’ most overrated player. I admire the dedication and determination that
brought him to the NHL. I believe he will maintain a successful career at the
NHL level, but I don’t believe it will be as a first line centre. In my opinion,
he’s a serviceable second line offensive centre if paired with wingers that can
create space and take advantage of his playmaking skills. His success in
2011-2012 came during an embarrassing season by the Habs. During that year,
Desharnais was flanked by two scoring power forwards in Max Pacioretty and Erik
Cole. In my opinion, he made the most of the club’s poor situation and cashed in
with a four-year contract. With the maturation of Lars Eller and the eventual
graduation from winger to center of Alex Galchenyuk, Desharnais will soon be the
odd man out in Montreal. Unless he can discover a new niche among the club’s
bottom six forwards, most likely as a winger, GM Marc Bergevin will be forced to
Kevin Meldrum: I think the most overrated Hab is Josh Gorges.
He has a $3.9 million cap hit for several more years; in my opinion he is a $2.5
million dollar player. I love his effort and his heart, but he cannot
clear the front of the net and his effective body checks are few and far
between. He is a bottom pairing defenceman on most teams at best who could
be a temporary fill in on the top four with some penalty kill minutes.
There are better options available through trades or free agent signing and if
Montreal gets a top-4 defenceman in the offseason with the kids coming up as
early as next year, having Gorges as a third pairing player is not smart
even in a non-cap world.
Norm Szcyrek: Josh Gorges. Although some may place him in
the underrated category, I feel he is overrated and overpaid for what he
provides. On most good teams in this league he is a #6/7 defenceman but he’s
paid like a #2-4 player instead. I feel his defensive skills are overrated with
the exception of his shot blocking which is very good. He doesn’t have the best
decision making with the puck and seems to over-handle it some times. He
doesn’t have the physical size and strength to match up against bigger forwards
and often loses battles to them. He is an expendable type of player especially
with the Habs depth of defensive prospects in the AHL now, but since most of
them are not ready his place on the Montreal roster is safe for now.
Some of our message board posters also offered up some different selections
than who our writers chose:
Machine of Loving Grace: "Alexei Emelin. By just a little. The
Ottawa series gets blamed on for him not in the lineup when the team couldn’t
score goals on Anderson. Don’t think Emelin in the lineup would have got
Pacioretty a hotter stick."
JGC21: "Pacioretty. Before anybody jumps all over me, let me
just say that I want to see a full season from him where he matches what he did
in 2011. Remember, his line with Desharnais and Cole was a top line on the
worst team in the NHL a few years ago. Now that the Habs are turning things
around, let’s see him dominate a game the way we’re all waiting for him to do on
a good team."
Colin: "If I had to name someone, I’d call out White. I think
there’s a lot of commentary about what he is, and what he brings to the team,
except he’s changed his game so much in the last year (because he was taking
horrid penalties) that he’s lost a lot of the edge that made him the effective
agitator he needed to be."
Lovett’s Magnatones: "Andrei Markov. His health and the
Canadiens’ success have gone hand in hand the last five years, but at this point
in his career he’s a serious defensive liability, and earns his meal ticket
passing the puck to P.K. on the powerplay."