This past season was largely one to forget for the Canadiens as they struggled for long stretches of the season with many players underachieving. As a result, the report cards for the goaltenders and defencemen feature several low grades.
Players must have played in at least 20 of 82 games and still be with the organization to receive a grade.
Jake Allen – C-: He was the best of Montreal’s goaltenders this season but that’s not saying much. His save percentage was only a couple of points below the NHL average but he allowed three or more goals in nearly 63% of his starts. The defence in front of him didn’t help but as someone that has rightfully been touted as an above-average backup in the past, Allen didn’t play to that level this season.
Stats: 35 GP, 9-20-4 record, 3.30 GAA, .905 SV%, 2 SO
Samuel Montembeault – D: I know he was put in a tough situation but it can’t be sugarcoated that in the majority of his games, Montembeault looked like the minor league goalie he was expected to be. Soft goals came way too frequently and out of 61 qualified goalies (20+ appearances), only four had a lower save percentage than he did (and three of them barely played enough games to qualify). In terms of GAA, only one was worse. His quality start percentage was under 37% when it should be in the low 50s at a minimum. He showed this season that he’s not an NHL-calibre goalie and at this point of his career, that’s probably not going to change. Good on him for gutting through a tough year but he should not be a part of Montreal’s future plans beyond maybe being a depth option in Laval.
Stats: 38 GP, 8-18-6 record, 3.77 GAA, .891 SV%, 1 SO
N/A: Andrew Hammond, Michael McNiven, Carey Price, Cayden Primeau
Chris Wideman – B-: In terms of performance relative to expectations which is what these grades are for, Wideman had a pretty good year. He brought some offensive skill to a back end that was largely bereft of it. However, he was as bad as advertised in his own end to offset a lot of those offensive gains. Still, for a player signed for the minimum who was supposed to be in a 6/7 role this season, Wideman gave Montreal a pretty good return on his contract.
Stats: 64 GP, 4 goals, 23 assists, 27 points, -25 rating, 67 PIMS, 76 shots, 14:52 ATOI
Alexander Romanov – B-: Like a lot of Montreal players, I liked the end of his season a lot more than the beginning but there’s always the issue of trying to ascertain how much of that improvement was just based on not having any pressure as is often the case with losing teams down the stretch. He was overmatched some nights early on but there was never an issue with effort level which stood out in a good way while his physicality was there with regularity. But while he was on the top pairing down the stretch, I don’t think that’s a viable spot for him long term; he’s better served as a supporting blueliner (in a 4/5 type of role) than an impact one.
Stats: 79 GP, 3 goals, 10 assists, 13 points, -9 rating, 53 PIMS, 107 shots, 20:23 ATOI
Corey Schueneman – C+: In his first taste of NHL action, Schueneman held his own most nights. The problem was when he was off, he was really off and getting exploited multiple times a game. That’s all part of the learning curve but it also serves to put into perspective what his NHL upside is. He’s not a future regular, at least on a good team. His ideal role might be as a reserve defender. That said, that’s still not a bad outcome considering Schueneman was only on an AHL contract just a year ago. He worked his way up a peg or two on the depth chart which made this a pretty successful season for him.
Stats: 24 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists, 6 points, -5 rating, 8 PIMS, 30 shots, 16:35 ATOI
Joel Edmundson – C: Edmundson wasn’t the steadying presence that he was in the playoffs but that was to be expected with how much time he missed due to a back injury. Over the last month when he was back into playing shape, he looked more like the player he was a year ago. The concern for him is his usage – he has always been a complementary piece but with the state of Montreal’s back end, he’s a key shutdown player. When he was used in a lesser role, he played a lot better compared to when he logged bigger minutes. They will almost certainly be counting on him as a key blueliner and not a depth one next season so Edmundson will need to prepare for a heavier workload.
Stats: 24 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, -1 rating, 35 PIMS, 32 shots, 19:35 ATOI
David Savard – C: At the beginning of the year, it was ugly. But after the coaching change and reversion back towards more of a traditional coverage in the defensive zone, Savard began to show he still is capable of playing a typical stay-at-home role most nights. With three years left on his contract, he’s not a viable trade candidate yet but with the Canadiens shifting towards a younger back end, Savard could still have a role in terms of trying to shelter some of those prospects. That might be a better fit for him than the role he had this season so he may still be able to contribute something moving forward.
Stats: 62 GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, 17 points, -22 rating, 36 PIMS, 66 shots, 20:47 ATOI
Jeff Petry – D+: This season won’t go down as one to remember for the veteran. The Habs were counting on him to be their go-to blueliner in all situations but Petry struggled early and looked disinterested after that while not hiding his disdain for Dominique Ducharme. It took a while for Petry to find his footing under Martin St. Louis but a lot of his performance came late in the year when the games didn’t matter and after they couldn’t honour his trade request. That salvages the grade from being even lower than this.
Stats: 68 GP, 6 goals, 21 assists, 27 points, -11 rating, 36 PIMS, 124 shots, 22:06 ATOI
Kale Clague – D: Talk about a squandered opportunity. Clague had a chance to prove he was an NHL-calibre defenceman when the Habs picked him up off waivers. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the most of it, showing he was a fringe player that wasn’t demonstrably better than Montreal’s other fringe defenders. Clague has some offensive skill but hasn’t figured out how to convert that into production which he needs in order to offset his shaky defensive play. At this point, I’m not sure he gets qualified this summer which is a disappointing outcome for a player that was perceived to have legitimate NHL upside not that long ago when he was in Los Angeles.
Stats: 25 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, -8 rating, 18 PIMS, 20 shots, 16:15 ATOI
N/A: Justin Barron, Ben Chiarot, Jordan Harris, Brett Kulak, William Lagesson, Sami Niku, Mattias Norlinder