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The Size Issue

Since the beginning of the summer, many reviews of Pierre Gauthier’s work have pointed out two facts: his moves have been aimed at acquiring youth and at being as cap friendly as possible. However, one aspect that has been neglected in many analyses is that the new General Manager has also consistently acquired bigger players and has started addressing the franchise’s seemingly eternal size deficiency. While he may not have acquired the marquee power forward many Habs fans dream about, the depth in the organization is slowly becoming more sizable.

In his first move as manager, Gauthier shipped underachieving Matt D’Agostini to St. Louis for Aaron Palushaj, who clocks in at a decent 6’0 and 185 pounds. Around the trade deadline last season, he also acquired the 6’1 Dominic Moore, who was eventually let go, in exchange for a second round pick. Then came the summer, where the first order of business was to settle the everlasting goaltender debate. Even in this situation, size proved to be a consideration as Gauthier opted to bet on the much more imposing Carey Price. And, by trading Jaroslav Halak, he also obtained two fairly big and physical forwards in Ian Schultz and Lars Eller. As the offseason progressed, the 6’4 Alex Auld and the 6’0 Dustin Boyd were added to round-out the bottom of the lineup. In terms of youth, the big Andreas Engqvist and Alexander Avtsin were added to the farm-team and the squad moved up in the draft to acquire the 6’6 behemoth defender Jarred Tinordi.

Once again, none of these forwards project to become the next Jarome Iginla and Tinordi is not expected to crack the lineup for another few years. But, the bottom line is, by making these additions, Pierre Gauthier is taking steps to address a significant organizational weakness while also adding skill and depth to the team. And, for that, he deserves to be applauded.

Summer 2010 a Season of Massive Overhaul for Canadiens

While this summer seems much tamer than the previous one, the Canadiens have nonetheless undergone a significant organizational overhaul this year as well. The changes kicked off with the dismissal of six scouts at the end of May. If you may recall, those who were let go were amateur scouts Denis Morel, who is a former NHL referee, Dave Mayville, Antonin Routa, Pelle Eklund, Nikolai Vakourov and professional scout Gordie Roberts.

The changes continued with the departures of Hamilton coach Guy Boucher and his assistants Martin Raymond and Daniel Lacroix, plus Assistant Manager Julien Brisebois all to Tampa Bay. Even trainer Lorne Goldenberg was replaced after only one year the team. Former Rimouski Océanic trainer Pierre Allard will take his place. Larry Carriere has been hired to take Brisebois’ old job while Randy Cunneyworth has been named the new coach of the Bulldogs. Randy Ladouceur will be his assistant.

The Goaltender Situation Around the League

The Flyers have acquired Andrej Meszaros, Sean O’Donnell and Nikolai Zherdev, which in turn has forced them to trade the popular Simon Gagné and has rendered them virtually unable to acquire a significant goaltending upgrade. The Chicago Blackhawks appear to be banking on the inconsistent Antti Niemi, who will be relied upon more heavily now that a third of last year’s squad has been gutted. The Sharks are currently opting for the inexpensive duo of Thomas Greiss and Antero Niittymaki while the Capitals are betting on Semyon Varlamov. I understand that the 2010 Finals featured two not-so-prominent netminders, but a year makes not a trend and such an odd occurrence can only be considered a statistical outlier. If these teams do not shore up their goaltending, they risk being severely handicapped come playoff time in spite of their otherwise impressive lineups.