Better late than never, the final report card for the 2016-17 Habs forwards has finally arrived. The Habs had a roller coaster regular season, including a great start, a serious slump, a midseason head coach change, followed by a strong finish, but ending with a first round defeat in the playoffs. Here’s a breakdown of how the Canadiens forwards were rated on a whole.
Players must have played in at least 41 games to receive a grade.
Alexander Radulov: A+ When Montreal announced the signing of Radulov in the summer of 2016, I admit I was skeptical of the move. His reputation while he last played in the NHL was not a good one, given his infamous team suspension by Nashville during the playoffs, for missing curfew while visiting a bar with former Hab Andrei Kostitsyn. A selfish label is not one that is easily shaken off. While in the KHL, Radulov once struck an assistant coach while he was sitting on the bench; several Youtube videos still chronicle that event. However, after he hit the ice for the Habs last October, I was impressed with Alexander. His offensive skills were very strong and consistent game to game. His effort level was also very high every shift, helping his defensive game too. Some of his goals and assists were highlight material, typically making the sports shows game round ups.When the playoffs arrived, Radulov was easily the team’s best forward, leading them in goals (two, tied) and points (seven). His enthusiasm was evident and to me he rose to the role of one of the Habs leaders, setting a high example for everyone to follow. As a winger, Radulov was the team’s best playmaking forward, with outstanding vision on the ice. The only minor criticism I have for Radulov was he sometimes showed too much
When the playoffs arrived, Radulov was easily the team’s best forward, leading them in goals (two, tied) and points (seven). His enthusiasm was evident and to me he rose to the role of one of Montreal’s leaders, setting a high example for everyone to follow. As a winger, Radulov was the team’s best playmaking forward, with outstanding vision on the ice. The only minor criticism I have for Radulov was he sometimes showed too much aggressiveness on the forecheck which led to some needless penalties. Most of the time these occurred during non-important situations so they were easy to forgive.
Final Stats: 76 GP, 18 goals, 36 assists, 54 points, +10 rating, 62 PIMS, 147 shots, 6 PPG, 18:17 TOI
Max Pacioretty: A- It’s difficult to give Max this grade, considering all of the positive things he did. In his second season as captain, Pacioretty handled the responsibilities well. He was ever present for media requests and social appearances. Once again he led the team in goals and points, while typically garnering the most ice time among forwards. When pressed into action on the penalty kill, he did a good job in that role too. In December he reported he had started the season playing with a fractured foot, which obviously affected his offensive production; his scoring picked up considerably after that time. It was his end of the regular season and playoff results which helped bring his grade rating down a notch. Max was
Max was shut down in the post season for goals while contributing a single assist in the six game loss to the Rangers. It’s well known that Pacioretty has always been a streaky scorer, and he did lead the team in shots and scoring chances in the playoffs. However, the results were not there this time. Max’s goal scoring proficiency benefited somewhat from the level of the opposition, with 24 of his 35 goals coming against the 14 non-playoff teams. For him to earn a better rating, he needs to find a way to elevate his game when it counts the most, in the playoffs.
Final Stats: 81 GP, 35 goals, 32 assists, 67 points, +15 rating, 38 PIMS, 268 shots, 8 PPG, 1 SHG, 19:10 TOI
Alex Galchenyuk: B+ Alex got off to a great start to the season offensively, leading the team in scoring. At one point he was among the NHL scoring leaders, rising to the #11 spot and leading many fans to expect this was going to be his best season as a Hab. While paired with Radulov, the two formed an impressive duo on offence. A knee injury in early December knocked him out of the lineup for 18 games until mid-January. Alex played another five games before re-injuring the same knee and missed the next three games. After the second return to the lineup, Alex struggled mightily to regain his form, and eventually was relegated to the fourth line. Galchenyuk continued to struggle defensively this season as he has in past seasons.
Final Stats: 61 GP, 17 goals, 27 assists, 44 points, -5 rating, 24 PIMS, 104 shots, 6 PPG, 15:55 TOI
Paul Byron: B+ Byron simply had a career season scoring his highest number of goals and assists. Byron is one of the fastest forwards in the league and utilizes his speed very effectively both on offence and defence. While Paul is one of the smallest players in the league, his quickness on the forecheck leaves the opposition with little to no time to react. On offence, he carries the puck so well that he often is a threat for a breakaway scoring chance. Similarly, on the penalty kill, he leaves the opposition little time to act, and a turnover often led to a breakout scoring chance in the other end.
Despite his small stature, Byron was very durable playing in all but one game last season. Paul struggled during the third quarter of the year, much like the rest of the team leading up to the firing of Michel Therrien. He did rebound somewhat under new coach Claude Julien for the rest of the season but struggled in the playoffs scoring only one goal.
Final Stats: 81 GP, 22 goals, 21 assists, 43 points, +21 rating, 29 PIMS, 96 shots, 1 SHG, 15:04 TOI
Phillip Danault: B+ Danault is a hard working player, who is proficient in all three zones of the ice. He’s versatile enough to play centre or wing and to float between the fourth, third, second, and first lines. While he’s not a true first line centre, he did an adequate enough job there especially since his hockey IQ and defensive awareness complemented his linemates well. Like Byron, Danault had a career season on offence while playing every game for the team, the only Hab to do so. Considering Danault was considered to only be a fourth line player when he was acquired the previous season, he was impressive.
Final Stats: 82 GP, 13 goals, 27 assists, 40 points, +5 rating, 35 PIMS, 133 shots, 15:34 TOI
Arturri Lehkonen: B+ Arturri had a strong rookie training camp, and after starting slowly in the team’s main camp, gained momentum and finished making the team. Lehkonen as a 22-year-old developed well playing in Europe, as his defensive game is excellent while showing flashes of offensive talent when given opportunity. He started as a bottom-six player but eventually rose to a top-six forward especially when other forwards were injured and he benefited from the increase of ice time. He suffered an upper body injury in early November that caused him to miss nine games, but returned later that month.
Final Stats: 73 GP, 18 goals, 10 assists, 28 points, -1 rating, 8 PIMS, 158 shots, 2 PPG, 1 SHG, 13:51 TOI
Andrew Shaw: B Shaw was also a versatile player for the Habs, playing a high tempo aggressive game. A very competitive player, he agitated the opposition to get them off their game. Unfortunately, he suffered a bad concussion in mid-December with a controversial hit that knocked him out of the lineup for 14 games. Shaw showed to be a fearless fighter taking on any challengers, leading the team in penalty minutes.
Final Stats: 68 GP, 12 goals, 17 assists, 29 points, +4 rating, 110 PIMS, 127 shots, 1 PPG, 15:12 TOI
Brendan Gallagher: C+ Brendan had terrible luck last season, suffering a hand injury from teammate Shea Weber’s shot in early January, missing 18 games. He suffered a freak break of two fingers to the same hand the season before. Before the injury, he was struggling offensively to contribute despite getting top-six minutes. When he returned from the injury he again struggled to contribute offensively, likely due to his hand not being at 100% yet. When healthy he always provides a high level of effort every game and every shift. His offence was a concern, but he rebounded nicely in the playoffs scoring a goal and two assists in six games.
Final Stats: 64 GP, 10 goals, 19 assists, 29 points, +7 rating, 39 PIMS, 187 shots, 1 PPG, 15:05 TOI
Tomas Plekanec: C+ The team’s veteran forward, Tomas suffered a sharp decline in offence last season despite missing only four games. He still remains an excellent defensive player, capable of shutting down the opposition’s top centres most of the time. He’s also very good as a penalty killer and led the team in short handed goals. As the highest paid forward for the season, it’s difficult to rate him highly for this report card. Like Gallagher, he somewhat rebounded in the playoffs generating a goal and two assists in six games.
Final Stats: 78 GP, 10 goals, 18 assists, 28 points, +10 rating, 24 PIMS, 139 shots, 3 PPG, 2 SHG, 16:49 TOI
Torrey Mitchell: C+ Mitchell is a decent role player in the bottom-six positions, capable of handling either centre or the wing. Much like the season before, Torrey got off to a great start with four goals in the team’s first eight games, surprising many fans and media. He missed a few games near the end of the season with the flu, but then struggled a little upon returning. That made it difficult to get back into the lineup as a regular as he only played three games in the playoffs. Mitchell did score a beautiful goal in the playoffs, even though it was a controversial one with the Habs guilty of too many men on the ice. The Rangers were also guilty of the same, but the officials did not call either team for the infraction.
Final Stats: 78 GP, 8 goals, 9 assists, 17 points, +5 rating, 38 PIMS, 68 shots, 12:36 TOI
Brian Flynn: C Flynn is also a versatile forward, but generally a fourth line type player. He’s never been known to provide much offence but can handle defensive responsibilities well. Flynn suffered a few injuries this season and struggled to get back into the lineup. Near the end of the regular season, rookies and younger players got the opportunity to play at Flynn’s expense. Brian got into only one playoff game, the last one versus the Rangers. He’s off to Dallas where he will look to crack their roster this season.
Final Stats: 51 GP, 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points, +2 rating, 4 PIMS, 47 shots, 12:03 TOI