2016 was full of ups and downs when it came to the Montreal Canadiens and as a result, was full of no shortage of storylines. Here are the top stories from the year in our Year in Review.
1) The Trade: Despite there being rumblings off and on for a few months, no one really expected the Habs to deal P.K. Subban in advance of his no-move clause kicking in on July 1st. Talks had reportedly heated up a bit at the draft but when nothing came to fruition there, it seemed certain that he’d be sticking around. Whoops. Instead, GM Marc Bergevin pulled off one of the biggest blockbusters in recent memory, dealing the blueliner to Nashville for defenceman Shea Weber in what quickly became a highly polarizing trade. Weber has performed well with the Canadiens to start this season but with ten years remaining on his contract (including this one), a lot could change between now and then.
2) Carey Price’s Injury: When Price went down for the second time against the Rangers in late November of 2015, the original report was that he wasn’t supposed to be out for too long (6-8 weeks). Then he was supposed to only miss a couple more weeks (that was said on several occasions). As it turns out, the original six week timeframe was more like six months and as a result, Price didn’t return to the lineup the rest of the way, playing in just 12 games overall. That led to an offseason of uncertainty regarding his health but Price played quite well at the World Cup of Hockey and parlayed that into another strong start this season.
3) The Collapse: Montreal started off the 2015-16 with the best start in franchise history and followed that up with one of the worst second halves in quite some time. Price’s injury undoubtedly played a big role in that but several key players vastly underachieved down the stretch. It’s fair to infer that the collapse also played a big role in the decision to make the Subban-Weber trade. One small positive from their struggles last season was that the team was able to land promising prospect Mikhail Sergachev in the draft. The Canadiens got off to an even better start this season – will history repeat itself in the second half this season?
4) Habs Sign Radulov: Quite a few teams were speculated as potential suitors for Alexander Radulov back in the offseason as he looked to return after spending time in the KHL. Montreal really wasn’t on the radar, given the perceived off-ice questions. However, they jumped in with a one year, $5.75 million deal and the 30 year old has fit in quite well so far, sitting second on the team in scoring while giving the team a legitimate top line right winger. He’s not eligible to sign an extension until January 1st although it’s likely they’ll wait longer before looking into that, based on comments from Bergevin earlier this season.
5) Draft Day Dealings: The Subban-Weber trade wasn’t the only ‘culture-shaking’ trade Bergevin made in June. In a pair of deals, they brought in Andrew Shaw from Chicago and traded Lars Eller to Washington. It wasn’t long before Shaw inked a long-term contract either, signing a six year, $23.4 million deal that makes him part of the core for the foreseeable future. Shaw has had his good and bad moments this year before suffering a concussion in the middle of the month while Eller has struggled in Washington, scoring just three times in 32 games this year.