The Montreal Canadiens have been trying to put the puzzle together for a while now. They have stellar goaltending, but the goals haven’t come with any consistency. Enter Jonathan Drouin, who signed a six-year deal with the Habs after a rocky tenure with the Lightning.
“There’s obviously that pressure of playing in Montreal, everybody knows that, but for me as a player I think I’d rather have that pressure on myself than some other places,” said Drouin after signing his contract. “I’m a French-Canadian and I’m going to thrive on that pressure. I like that stuff.”
The Habs also signed defenceman Karl Alzner, plus goalie Carey Price was inked to an eight-year contract extension worth $84 million. Ales Hemsky was brought aboard, while Mark Streit is back for another tour of duty with the Canadiens.
It wasn’t all wine and roses for Montreal, however, as defenceman Andrei Markov left the club for Russia and winger Alexander Radulov signed with the Dallas Stars.
Max Pacioretty is
perhaps Montreal’s best offensive weapon. The captain had 35 goals last season and a total of 67 points in 82 games, plus he averaged 19:10 of ice time a season. He had just an assist in six playoff games, but he scored eight power play goals during the regular season and loves to fire the puck. Only Alex Ovechkin and Brent Burns have more shots on target over the past three seasons.
The Habs like Alex Galchenyuk on the wing, but he may be a slick fit for centre with Drouin in the tank. The 23-year-old had 44 points in 61 games last season, including six goals on the power play. He is a potent playmaker and averaged 15:55 of ice time a game in 2016-2017. The Milwaukee native had three assists in six playoff games.
Brendan Gallagher should benefit from Radulov’s departure in that he’ll find more ice time, especially on the power play. The 25-year-old from Edmonton had 10 goals last season, a fair dive from his usual totals. He averaged 15:05 of ice time a game in 2016-2017 and had 187 shots on goal, but he produced well in the playoffs with three points in six games.
Much is expected from Drouin, who has been slotted at the top of most Montreal depth charts and could be a top line guy right out of the gate. The 22-year-old came right out of the Tampa doghouse and put together a 53-point campaign, including 26 points on the power play. The Habs would do well to plunk him on their top unit and that should line the Quebec native up for some interesting numbers in 2017-2018.
Shea Weber has size, skill and mean streak and he’s been piling up good totals in Montreal. The 32-year-old should offer fantasy owners plenty of coverage in 2017-2018. He scored 17 goals last season and posted a total of 42 points in 78 games, plus he had three points in six playoff games. Weber averaged 25:03 of ice time in the regular season and nearly reached 28 minutes a game in the post-season.
Jeff Petry posted a career-high 28 points last season and skated well with Markov on the shelf due to injury, so that could be a sign of the times. With Markov, Alexei Emelin and Nathan Beaulieu out of the picture, Petry should benefit with increased ice time. That could gift the man from Ann Arbor with more offensive opportunities, making him a decent sleeper selection.
Streit is back for another ride with the Canadiens. He put up 27 points in 68 games last season and averaged 18:44 of ice time a game between the Flyers and Penguins. The 39-year-old brings veteran presence and a big shot, plus he can quarterback the power play. He may be on one last run, but the Swiss blueliner can still bring it.
The Price is right for Montreal (sorry). Montreal boasts one of the best goaltenders in the game. Price ranks fourth in wins and is tied for first in save percentage among the 22 goalies who’ve played at least 300 games since 2010-2011, so it’s safe to say the 30-year-old from Anahim Lake has earned his spot and then some.
Al Montoya is the backup. The Chicago native was 8-6-4 last season, with a 2.67 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. He is a solid puck-handling goalie and can help boost an active defence in transition. That gives Montreal an ace in the hole. He won’t see many starts behind Price, but he has plenty of experience and knows his role.