HabsWorld.net -- 

Although the Montreal Canadiens failed to yield
the big name player they were coveting this offseason, it certainly doesn’t mean
that the team wasn’t busy.  Thus far, the team has added 8 new players to
the organization, and that doesn’t even count the signed prospects such as Pavel
Valentenko.  Today, we take a closer look at the new players, and try to
forecast where they may fit in for the upcoming season.

Patrice Brisebois:

Contract:  1 year, base of
$700,000, can double it with undisclosed A-level bonuses.

Thoughts:  Easily the most controversial acquisition for Bob Gainey
this summer, but it could turn out to be one of his best.  When Brisebois
was in Montreal, most people felt he was a decent defenceman, but certainly not
#1 calibre (nor worth nearly $4 million per).  If there’s one thing that he
was good at (besides his trademark gaffes), it was his offensive game, and with
Sheldon Souray gone, the team needed some help on the backend in that regard.

Forecast:  He’ll make the Habs, likely in a #5-7 role, and more
importantly, won’t be booed anywhere near as mercilessly as he was before.

Marvin Degon:

Contract:  1 year, two-way contract
with a base of $560,000, with an additional $290,000 in B-level bonuses.

Thoughts:  I’ll admit, like almost everyone else, I really don’t
know a whole lot about this guy, but from what I’ve heard and seen, he doesn’t
seem like a half-bad pickup.  In his first full pro season, he put up
almost a half a point per game as a defenceman, there aren’t many others in a
similar position.  Going through the Rangers contract situation, to me,
this seems like the reason he was not given an NHL deal and not because of poor

Forecast:  Bulldog bound, and with Andre Benoit heading overseas, he
could have a significant impact on the defending AHL champions, especially on
the PP.  He’s not being mentioned as a prospect by most people, my
prediction is he will be by season’s end.


Contract:  4 years, $22 million.

Thoughts:  Before he even plays a game, the expectations may already
be too high for him, given the fact that he is replacing the top scoring
defenceman not only on the team last season, but also the whole league. 
He’s certainly not going to put up Souray-like numbers offensively, but he will
help the team not only defensively, but physically as well. 

Forecast:  Will put up more than half of the points Souray produced
last season, but not much more on that end.  Veteran leadership aspect is
being overlooked currently, won’t be by years end.


Contract:  2 years, $1.8 million.

Thoughts:  Timing of the signing very curious, a day after Bob
Gainey said he would not be actively pursuing most of the remaining free agents
(I guess this was one he really wanted).  Not very well known, but plays
with some grit, and with losing their "tough guy" in Downey, plus the injury
issues with Steve Begin, adding some toughness will go a long way.

Forecast:  Won’t get the icetime he did with LA last year (over 10
mins per game), and may find himself in the pressbox more than he expected,
particularly if the defence logjam is not cleared up, meaning Mark Streit finds
himself on the same wing.


Contract:  1 year, two-way contract
with a base of $560,000, with an additional $290,000 in B-level bonuses.

Thoughts:  The most intriguing signing of the offseason, but the
biggest question will be can he even make the team?  He has the size, and
judging by the stats, the skill, but there’s always the looming question with an
undrafted 25-year old: If he’s truly NHL calibre, why wasn’t he picked up in the
last 6 years?  That being said, he does possess the intangibles the team
needs, will be very interesting to watch in camp.

Forecast:  Toughest one of all the signings this summer, he could be
a front liner, or a 4th liner, or neither.  Personally, I see him being
this year’s Latendresse, bouncing everywhere between all 4 lines…if he makes
the team.  If not, he’s heading back to Finland, not to the Bulldogs.


Contract:  1 year, two-way contract
worth $525,000.

Thoughts:  I don’t get this one all that much, especially with
Brisebois now in the fold.  As I look at the other defencemen with the
Bulldogs (Valentenko, O’Byrne, Degon, Cote, Biron, Carle, Archer), I’m not sure
where he fits in in the day-to-day lineup.  I think this signing has a lot
to do with mentoring the young blueliners and less on the ice, and if that’s the
case, this will be a worthwhile pickup.

Forecast:  Struggles to make the Bulldogs lineup consistently
(unless there are injuries/callups), but his impact as discussed earlier will be
with the youngsters.  Doubtful he sees Bell Centre ice except for


Contract:  3 year, two-way contract
worth $1.51 million.

Thoughts:  Russell showed he can score at the junior level, but may
be hard pressed to get a shot with the Bulldogs right away.  His size will
hurt him, particularly with Corey Locke and AHL-signed Thomas Beauregard, 2
other small players, in the fold already.  Certainly worth a gamble
considering the very low cost to acquire him.

Forecast:  May see spot time with Hamilton, but will likely spend
the bulk of the season with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the East Coast league.


Contract:  1 year contract worth $2
million, with no-trade clause.

Thoughts:  Essentially brought in to replace Nashville-bound Radek
Bonk, should be able to top the latter’s production from last season, while
bringing in some leadership as well to the room.  If the Habs do bring in
another centre as has been rumoured though, I can’t help but wonder how "Smoke"
will fit in; it certainly won’t be as a 4th line C, that much is for sure.

Forecast:  Will beat Bonk’s numbers of last season’s, but not his
own; he’ll have a hard time getting PP duty like he did while in Chicago.