Canadiens management must stay grounded....for now
Updated: Mar 6, 2022
Ground Control to Major Tom, Ground Control to Major Tom .... (ten, nine, eight, seven, six)....Commencing countdown, engines on (five, four, three)...and, hold your horses, this rocket is not yet ready to launch! It needs more recalibrating, finetuning, fixing of its many parts before finally being ready for takeoff. But rest assured, the team is now in the abled hands of elite engineers Jeff Gorton & Kent Hughes. The sky is the limit, heck the entire universe!
But as the Canadiens management team gathers in the coming days leading up to the deadline, one thing is sure: they can ill-afford to deviate from the restructuring/rebuilding plan. Sure, this team has looked more inspired of late, they form a much more cohesive and hard-working unit than they did under failed coach Dom Ducharme (wonder if he'll ever get another break at the NHL level). But the glaring holes remain still there: no real # 2 Centerman behind Suzuki, lack of depth and goal-scoring ability on the wings, and at the very least a couple of young(er) puck-moving defensemen. Oh yes, and a number goalie, seeing as it is looking more and more likely that Carey Price will either keep stretching things out in order to keep receiving those handsome paychecks, or, if his knees are really done (odd he looked fine the last time he played- see Stanley Cup Finals) return and be at reduced capacity for the next few years. Oh, and has anyone heard from Shea Weber? Seems very un-captain-like, to have completely disappeared from the team entourage...just saying....
So let us hope that the current winning streak has not managed to cast a spell on our Chief Engineers. Unequivocally, they must rid themselves of as many of the brutal contracts left behind by the Bergevin regime: Drouin, Savard, Gallagher, and yes, Price and Weber (though at the moment they do not count against the cap given they are on LTIR). Granted, this is all easier said than done but the Canadiens have and will continue to accumulate picks and young assets, and, if need be, dangling a few of these in a package to move these players out will be critically important. Especially if, as rumor has it, they intend on being players in the upcoming UFA market.
The Canadiens can realistically expect to have 3/4 first-round picks this summer. They boast a plethora (love using that Pierre McGuire word) of young prospects on D including Mailloux, Harris (fingers crossed Hughes can work his magic and sign him), Guehle, Norlinder and Xhekaj (who seems to be flying under the radar but has continued to impress in the OHL this season after having a standout camp with the Canadiens this past summer). But the shelves appear far more barren when it comes to promising young forward prospects. And the Canadiens need to address this in the coming weeks and months.
Given how impressive and creative the Hughes/Gorton duo has been thus far (the hiring of a player skills development coach, plans on adding to their hockey analytics department, much greater transparency about their plans and intentions, their ability to think outside-of-the-box giving Marty St-Louis a shot, the hiring of Vinnie Lecavalier etc), one can feel confident, at last, that the team is finally headed in the right direction.
So hold on, Major Tom, hold on just a little longer before you head off into outer space, for when this rocket will be ready, you finally be heading to the moon, and, who knows maybe even beyond.