HabsWorld.net -- 

The laws of balance appeared to play out this
week, as despite outplaying the Flyers in the majority of the series, the Habs
were eliminated in 5.  This after arguably being outplayed by Boston for
most of Round 1 but Montreal came out on top there.  We’ll have the last
set of grades, plus a look at free agency from the Habs’ perspective, and a
Final Thought on the season, in the Recap.


The ratings:
8.5 – 10:  Player has exceeded
expectations for the week, very strong contributions.
6.5 – 8:  Player has met expectations
for the week, play has helped or at worse, not hurt the lineup.
5 – 6:  Player has performed below
expectations for the week, play has at best not hurt the team, but likely has
had a negative affect.
Under 4.5:  Player has had a week to
forget, questions should soon be arising about his future with the organization.


#41 – Jaroslav Halak:  7.0 
Didn’t really play overly well or poorly, given the circumstances in which he
came in, not too shabby. (Playoff Average: N/A,
first rating 
Season Average:

#31 – Carey Price:  6.0 
Young or not, he was expected to produce and didn’t.  He did keep the team
in it in the 3rd in Game 5 to his credit. (Playoff Average:
Season Average:


#26 – Josh Gorges:  7.5 
Almost broke the goalless drought while playing solid in all 3 zones, and even
tied for the point lead for defencemen this week. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.04)

#51 – Francis Bouillon:  7.5 
I gotta give him credit, he played well throughout the postseason, this week was
no exception. 
(Playoff Average: 7.5  Season Average:

#71 – Patrice Brisebois:  7.0 
I didn’t find myself cringing when he had the puck anywhere near as much as
during the season, that says something. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 6.65)

#44 – Roman Hamrlik:  7.0  Was
arguably the most involved defenceman in terms of offence this week, but his
defensive game was AWOL at times. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.35)

#79 – Andrei Markov:  7.0 
The injuries ultimately took their toll; to his credit, he didn’t quit – even at
less than 100%, he was better than some options. (Playoff

Season Average:

#8 – Mike Komisarek:  7.0  Was not
the physical force that he was all season (injuries?), but you can’t discredit
the effort. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.48)

#3 – Ryan O’Byrne:  6.5 
Limited role, limited productivity, but at least he got his feet wet, that’ll
come in handy soon enough. 
(Playoff Average: 6.50  Season Average:


#11 – Saku Koivu:  8.5  The
only Hab to get a point in every game while wearing his heart on his sleeve, and
yet still, some bonehead writer from one of the papers says he’s to blame for
the team’s failures.  There’s just no winning with him. 
(Playoff Average: 8.33  Season Average:

#14 – Tomas Plekanec:  8.0 
He scored in every game this past week, and was more of the player we saw during
the regular season. 
(Playoff Average: 7.13  Season Average: 7.70)

#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn:  7.5 
There were disappearing acts at times, but at others, he was a real threat out
there.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#6 – Tom Kostopoulos:  7.5 
Kept up the strong physical play, but the offensive well dried up at the worst
possible time. 
(Playoff Average: 8.38  Season Average: 6.85)

#84 – Guillaume Latendresse:  7.5 
He was brought in to be a big body presence and his play for once actually fit
that description.  (Playoff Average: 6.83 
Season Average: 6.75)

#74 – Sergei Kostitsyn:  7.0 
Not a bad week, but unlike his brother, the disappearing acts were more
prevalent than the good ones.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#27 – Alexei Kovalev:  7.0  Point
wise, the production was there even this week, but there were a lot of
questionable decisions on his part that came back to hurt the team.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#22 – Steve Begin:  7.0  A
costly penalty for sure (where’s the blame on the PK for not doing their job?),
but otherwise, I felt he had a pretty strong week.
(Playoff Average: 7.63  Season Average: 7.18)

#20 – Bryan Smolinski:  7.0 
I think he ran out of gas, but still didn’t hurt the team with his presence. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 6.93)

#21 – Chris Higgins:  7.0  Big
goal in Game 5, could have used a few more along the way.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#40 – Maxim Lapierre:  7.0  Nothing
to praise or complain about, could be worse from a 4th line centre.  (Playoff Average:
 Season Average:

#32 – Mark Streit:  6.5 
Injuries notwithstanding, his play was not up to par this week at all, and his
contract for next season may have just went down a bit. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.13)

Week’s Average:
Season Average:
Playoff Average:


With the season now over, the focus turns to
the draft, as well as free agency.  Today, we look at the latter, the RFA’s
and UFA’s come July 1st for the Habs.

NHL-RFA:  Josh Gorges, Mikhail Grabovski, Jaroslav Halak, Andrei
Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre, Ryan O’Byrne

AHL-RFA:  Jimmy Bonneau, Marvin Degon, Janne Lahti, Corey Locke,
Cory Urquhart

Notes:  Lahti has already signed in Finland, but the Habs can still
choose to qualify him and keep him on their protected list like Alexander
Perezhogin a year ago.  Urquhart, meanwhile, was unofficially traded to
Phoenix just after the deadline, that deal should be made official before July

NHL-UFA:  Patrice Brisebois, Michael Ryder, Bryan Smolinski, Mark

AHL-UFA:  Andrew Archer, Mathieu Biron, Jean-Phillipe Cote, Yann
Danis, Brett Engelhardt, Jonathan Ferland, Duncan Milroy

Thoughts:  The Hamilton Bulldogs will certainly look a lot different
next season, as I don’t see the Habs re-upping all of these players (2 or 3 is a
possibility though.)  In terms of the NHL ones, I would say only Ryder is a
goner for sure.  I honestly think the team will make a quiet offer to both
Brisebois and Smolinski (for less than what they made last season) to see if
either is interested in a role as a mentor while getting some spotty playing
time.  Streit is the true wildcard, he’s pledged his loyalty to Montreal in
the past, but money does talk, and there may be teams willing to give him a full
time defensive role, which he has said before is his preference.


As much as the season may have ended in a
disappointing fashion, there is still plenty to be happy about.  This team
proved many writers wrong (including myself) by being a playoff team, and a top
seed at that.  The Habs may not raise banners to that end, but that’s still
quite an accomplishment.  Then there’s the "veteran" youngsters, Komisarek,
Plekanec, and A. Kostitsyn who all took another step forward, while Higgins
still had a solid season.  A pair of rookies made a big mark this season,
Carey Price who aside from a few rough playoff games, lived up to the hype,
while S. Kostitsyn proved his doubters wrong (including myself) and quickly
became a regular. 

It was also a year of resurrection for Alexei Kovalev, who showed that he’s
still a dynamic and dominating player…when he wants to be, which unfortunately
came up in the playoffs.  Saku Koivu had a so-so regular season, but once
again picked it up when it counted most.  The powerplay didn’t get worse
despite losing Sheldon Souray, which caught everybody off guard.  One of
the most inexperienced coaching staffs in the league took some steps forward,
and this time, there were more of those than backward ones.  Looking ahead,
the core of this team will be back (except for maybe Streit), while GM Bob
Gainey will have some cap space to go after a free agent or two to make this
team better.  All in all, this has been a season to be proud of, and the
future looks bright.  October already seems too far away.

Just because the season is over for both the Habs and Bulldogs, the Weekly Recap
isn’t done quite yet.  There will be a few weeks reprieve, but there will
be one more Recap this year towards the end of May, when recapping the World
Championships and Memorial Cup will be the order of the day, as well as looking
ahead to the 2008 draft.