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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Last month marked the one year anniversary of Marc Bergevin being hired as GM of the Canadiens. The new boss was quite busy in his first year making numerous additions to the scouting staff, hiring new coaching staffs in both the NHL and AHL, plus several player moves. In Part One of Bergevin's evaluation, the focus is on his work in his first two months - his hires and early signings.
Instead of covering every re-signing, only the significant RFA contracts will be assessed.
May 2 - July 2
New management hires (late May-early June): Bergevin's first move was to bring in a veteran GM to be his assistant in Rick Dudley. A scouting junkie, Dudley was unable to work with the Habs at the 2012 draft so we've yet to see all that he can bring to the table. Also added were Scott Mellanby, Martin Lapointe, and Patrice Brisebois who all have roles in player personnel and development. That took some of the extra responsibility off of Trevor Timmins who had been juggling several roles. Allowing him to solely concentrate on scouting is a great thing.
Grade: It's hard to arbitrarily assign a grade here as these people all work behind the scenes. However, adding some quality hockey people to what was a short-staffed office can only be a good thing. (I'm taking that same stance on all of the scouts hired throughout last offseason - all the hires make sense but that's about all that really can be said.)
New Montreal coaches (early-late June): The hiring of Michel Therrien was, to put it nicely, a highly controversial one. He really hadn't been on the radar for a few seasons now and many questioned openly as to whether or not he'd be the right guy for the job. Later added in the month were assistants Gerard Gallant (Saint John, QMJHL), J-J Daigneault (Connecticut, AHL), and Clement Jodoin (Hamilton, AHL).
Grade: You can't really argue with the hires too much at this point. No one expected the Canadiens to be a contender in the East, nor a division winner. A couple of issues crept up late (penalty kill woes in particular) that should be addressed next season. B+
New Hamilton coaches (mid June): Sylvain Lefebvre seemed to make a lot of sense at the time. He had NHL playing experience, plus he had served as an assistant at both the NHL and AHL levels. As it turns out, there's a case to be made that he wasn't ready. Donald Dufresne added another voice with experience to the coaching staff (they had multiple assistants which is rare as of late) while bringing in a goalie coach to work specifically with Hamilton's netminders (Vincent Riendeau) was a smart move.
Grade: The Bulldogs were consistently terrible this season. Part of it has to do with a lack of talent (more on that in Part Two) but the coaches need to shoulder a lot of the blame as well. There were plenty of head scratching decisions (I'll take this chance to again openly question Robert Mayer effectively being the starting goalie), hopefully they learn from them for next year. C-
Draft (June 22-23): The lone real benefit of the nightmarish 2011-12 campaign was that the team got to pick 3rd overall in each round. For review, here are each of the selections:
We all saw that Galchenyuk has a chance to be an elite NHL'er while all of the other prospects (with the exception of Thrower) had strong seasons at the junior level. Four of the seven picks have already been signed and it's conceivable that six if not all seven will eventually be inked.
Grade: We're only a year past the draft class but right now, this has the potential to be a home run draft class for the Habs. Although Timmins had the final say, Bergevin would have some input in the process which is why it gets covered here. A
Travis Moen extension (June 29): A lot of people were hoping Moen would get extended prior to the opening of free agency and Bergevin got the deal done less than 48 hours before the floodgates opened, inking the winger to a four year deal with a cap hit of $1.85 M per year. At the time, most conceded that it was likely a small overpayment while the presence of a partial no-trade clause wasn't ideal either. As we all know, it was a year to forget for Moen.
Grade: After the year he had, it's hard to be positive about the contract. If he struggles in 2013-14, a regular buyout could be an option, at least it wouldn't be overly cap prohibitive. D
Colby Armstrong contract (July 1): After being bought out by Toronto, Armstrong didn't waste much time securing a deal with Montreal, agreeing to terms shortly after free agency opened. At one year and $1 M, it was viewed as a low risk contract. In terms of on-ice performance, the reward was low but Armstrong was particularly well-liked in the room.
Grade: As a short-term option, the deal made some sense and it's hard to say he was vastly overpaid. A little more production would have been nice though. C
Francis Bouillon contract (July 1): Depth on defence is never a bad thing to have and it was with that in mind that Bergevin turned to a familiar face in Bouillon for one year at $1.5 M. He was brought in to be a 3rd pairing player and wound up playing more than anyone expected at the time of his deal. His presence also allowed Hamilton's crop of rookie defencemen to get some experience in the minors before seeing their first NHL action.
Grade: Yes, he played too much but all in all, a regular defenceman for $1.5 M on the open UFA market is pretty good value. B
Brandon Prust contract (July 1): At four years and $10 M, this was widely heralded as a substantial overpayment. The Habs' GM felt he could play a larger role than he did with the Rangers and Prust rewarded his belief in him. Instead of being a fourth line fighter, he was a mainstay on the third line, providing his usual physical play while chipping in with the odd goal here and there.
Grade: The cap hit is still a tad high for my liking even considering his season but as it stands, it's a much better deal now than a lot of people (myself included) originally pegged it to be. B
Carey Price extension (July 2): To-date, this is by far Bergevin's biggest commitment to any player, six years and $33 million. Price was coming off a quality 2011-12 campaign despite the Habs' overall struggles and this was viewed as the team locking up a young franchise goalie to a market-value deal. With his suspect finish to this past year, it's beginning to look like more of an overpayment although that could all change with a strong 2013-14 season.
Grade: This can never really be an 'A' deal - seldom do goalies play at a level where $6.5 M per year is a bargain. At this particular moment, it looks a bit pricey, he needs a bounce back year to justify what the team has committed to him. C
In Part Two, the focus continues to be on contracts while each of Bergevin's trades will be assessed as well.
- HW Forums - Grade Marc Bergevin's First Year