The final part of our depth assessment series looks at the right wing.
In terms of the number of players and prospects this is the Habs’ weakest of the
three forward positions but what it lacks in quantity, it has in quality.
There are several bright spots for the team although some work will need to be
done to shore up the overall depth at the position.
As quite a few forwards in the organization can play in multiple spots, their
positions for the purpose of this series will be based on the position listed
on our depth
Signed: Brendan Gallagher, Brian Gionta
UFA: Colby Armstrong, Michael Ryder
Gallagher and Gionta give the Habs two hard working forwards with some
offensive pop and defensive awareness. Unfortunately, there are some
concerns about Gionta’s availability for the start of 2013-14 due to another
torn bicep (although not the same one that ended his year the season before) so
there are certainly holes to be filled. Ryder has already been informed
that he will not be retained, his replacement will either be Rene Bourque
shifting back to the right side or someone who isn’t currently in the
organization. Armstrong was decent in a fourth line role but could easily
be replaced or kept; either way, it won’t have much of an impact on the lineup.
Needs Assessment: Medium – I’m not one to harp on team size like many
do but Gallagher and Gionta are the smallest 1-2 RW duo in the league. If
Bourque goes back to the right side, that will help although another top three
winger could still stand to be added, preferably one capable of playing a
two-way role. In terms of filling Armstrong’s role, this would be a chance
to try to find a more physical option although bringing him back wouldn’t be the
worst idea either.
Signed: Patrick Holland, Danny Kristo, Louis Leblanc
RFA: Ian Schultz
The Hamilton Bulldogs don’t have many strengths. This is one of them
though. Yes, Leblanc had a simply horrific year but he is still a decent
two-way winger who should have a much stronger season than he just had.
Holland, like a lot of the rookies, scuffled early on but got better as the year
progressed and is primed to take a step forward. As for Kristo, he’s going
to get every chance to be a top line scorer right away and if he can handle that
role, Hamilton’s RW depth could be one of the best in the AHL. Schultz,
once thought of as a potentially useful 4th liner in the NHL down the road,
struggled to crack the lineup at the ECHL level, being cut from multiple teams.
He will be let go without a doubt.
Needs Assessment: Low – As always, a veteran would be handy but the
priority would be to get one who plays the left side or centre. A gritty
4th liner is also an area of need but that can easily be filled with a career
minor leaguer or an undrafted prospect.
Last year, Kristo was the only prospect of note in this area. He has
been replaced with a similar prospect in Sebastian Collberg, a speedy and
skilled smaller forward who looks like he could be a steal as a 2nd rounder.
He already has signed but will return to Sweden (eliminating any chance of
playing junior hockey in the CHL) for next season. Andreas Engqvist is a
natural C but as we saw in his last stint with the Habs, his struggles at the
faceoff dot will force him to the wing if he is to return to the team. He
had a quality first year in the KHL and signed a two year extension. The
organization will still have his rights when that deal’s up so he can’t be
entirely forgotten. Maxim Trunev is still property of the Canadiens due to
not having a transfer agreement between the NHL and Russia. He finished up
yet another disappointing year in the KHL and is a non-prospect at this point.
Needs Assessment: Medium – The team will obviously be looking to
improve their size as they will at each position and unlike the other two
forward spots, there isn’t a two-way forward in the mix. Collberg looks
like he can be a legitimate top six scoring winger which is always a nice piece
to have but the odds of the other two having any sort of contribution at the NHL
level now are slim. As a result, adding some general depth that at the
very least will be able to contribute in the minors in a couple of years would
also be useful.