With a fan base as passionate as that of the Montreal Canadiens, there are
many fans with strong opinions about their favourite and least favourite
players. As a result, some players tend to be seen as underrated while
others perhaps receive too much hype and attention. We asked our writers
who they believe the Habs’ most underrated player is. Plenty of names were
brought up as five different players were selected.
Matt Dilworth: With all the attention that the Montreal
Canadiens get, it’s hard to believe that anyone is constantly underrated.
If a Hab has a good game, his reputation or potential is blown up to mythic
proportions, only to be quickly forgotten once the next Canadien garners
interest. That all being said, I think Tomas Plekanec is probably the most
consistently underrated player in Montreal. Although he is respected
league-wide, many are altogether too eager to put him aside to let up-and-comers
Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk take his minutes, failing to see what Plekanec
brings on a regular basis. Plekanec is the glue that holds the Habs
together, and even if he isn’t getting on the boxscore points-wise, he is
contributing in a significant manner. Everything that he does is for the
team, and although the minute details might not always be recognized, the
Canadiens would struggle mightily without him in the lineup.
Luca LaPorta: In my opinion, I think that the most underrated
Hab is Tomas Plekanec. Now in his 10th season with the Habs, Tomas
has produced stellar numbers every year but not many people seem to notice.
Plekanec has been very consistent over all the years with the Habs and has
always never failed to impress me. He plays a big role on the team,
playing on the powerplay, (either unit one or two), the first penalty kill unit,
while often playing against opponents’ top forwards and taking key faceoffs.
Brian La Rose: For me, it’s Brian Gionta. Yes, he’s small
(which for some, equates to bad), but he has been rather consistent over his
tenure with the team. In his four years, he has either hit the 20-goal
plateau or been on pace to hit that mark; reliable 20-goal guys are hard to come
by. Gionta also has shown that he is responsible defensively, often
playing on the line assigned to check opponents’ top lines while also playing
the penalty kill. Those types of players are usually rather important to a
team but the perception around many of the fans is that he’s the opposite.
That’s pretty much the definition of underrated right there.
Matt Macaskill: If Rene Bourque’s contract didn’t carry a
$3.3333 million dollar cap hit, he’d be a good pick. Two weeks ago, the obvious choice would have been Lars Eller,
but his strong start has made it clear to everyone that he’s taking his game
to a new level this season. I have to go with Travis Moen as the team’s most
underrated player. So many fans have expressed their willingness to ship the
grinder out. While I agree that his game took a step back last year, he has
looked quite good to start this season. He’s the quintessential fourth liner
for a team that lacks size and toughness. His willingness to drop the gloves
and stand up for Brandon Prust against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the season
opener is just a preview of what’s to come. He’s a player with experience that
can kill penalties and defend leads late in close games. He’s not afraid to
fight and takes the pressure off Prust, whose overall game has cast a shadow
over Moen since the former joined the Canadiens as a UFA for the 2012-13
Kevin Meldrum: The most underrated Hab is Alexei Emelin.
When he was injured late last year, it exposed how weak the Habs’ defencemen
were as they lost their bone crushing hitter. He is a player that keeps
the other teams’ players honest and can make them hesitate before making a play;
a lot of times that can be the difference as to whether the puck is in your net
or not. Emelin proved his worth to his team and I believe should be
re-signed and given top four minutes as he is a very capable performer.
Norm Szcyrek: Lars Eller. Lars has been slowly transitioning
into an NHL forward and took some solid steps in that direction during the
lockout shortened season. His place on the 3rd line is solid now and he should
advance in the next season or two especially if he keeps his ‘EGG’ line
teammates for most of his ice time. His size, strength, puck handling and
skating are all very good, and his defensive awareness is improving.
Some of our posters from the HW Forums also offered up their picks for most
Lovett’s Magnatones: "Travis Moen. Not too many teams underrate
a guy who’s 6’2, 220, scored the game winning goal in the SCF, can fight, and
fill in on the top lines in a pinch, but that’s what’s happened. Moen is a top
defensive forward and a Habs mainstay, who is suffering from the "what have you
done for me lately" line of thought."
kiwihab: "Just to be different, I’m going for Therrien. Lots of
people (including myself) were disappointed to say the least, when he was hired,
but overall I can’t help but be impressed with how he’s brought on the
youngsters and has the Habs playing attractive hockey."
BlueKross: "For me that award goes to Budaj who played much
better than anyone thought in limited service."
bbp: "Underrated in the league (at least by fans) is how good
Trevor Timmins (aka Montreal’s scouting over his tenure) has been. It’s just
hidden by how many guys he drafted who have been shipped out or left."
The Chicoutimi Cucumber: "I’ll say Gionta, because he has been
ungratefully regarded as nothing but a salary anchor and potential deadline bait
by a preponderance of fans on message boards for the past two years, despite his