This has been an offseason for the ages, and for all the wrong reasons. Coming off one of the greatest highs many Habs fans have had in their lives (if not, decades), we had to endure the stress of potentially losing Carey Price to Seattle, we learned that Shea Weber’s careers may be over, our team made an incredibly controversial draft pick, we lost Joel Bouchard, we lost Corey Perry, we lost Phillip Danault and to top it all off, we lost Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a bunch of jerks.
But it’s not all bad. There’s still room for optimism.
The Carey Price gamble paid off – in exposing him to Seattle, the Canadiens effectively saved Jake Allen. Over the course of an 82 game season that will be less compact than last year (yes, the Olympics will condense the schedule a bit), having a healthy Price and Allen could be just what this team needs to compete in the Division of Death.
The Habs acquired Christian Dvorak – a 2nd line centreman who will aptly replace Danault’s role on the team and likely bring more offence.
Ryan Poehling will get an audition to earn a full-time role on the big club. He took his game to a whole new level in Laval last season and could very well replace Kotkaniemi’s contributions, at least on the short term.
Like him or hate him, Jonathan Drouin is back, and this writer thinks that this is a huge boost to the team. I’ll dive into why in an upcoming piece. Here’s a sneak preview, though: Jonathan Drouin deciding to return from a long term personal leave to the Montreal Canadiens is a sign of tremendous confidence and acceptance of who he is and what he can do. He’s coming back to prove who he is, and why he was pegged as the next Quebec-born superstar when he was selected 3rd overall in 2013 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Heck, he’s even willing to jump back into the centre ice position if asked, where he would inevitably be under even greater scrutiny than ever.
Drouin is the best playmaker on this team, followed by Nick Suzuki. For years, we’ve had different talented playmakers but we never had enough goal scorers to maximize their abilities. Teams simply had to put extra pressure on a couple guys to limit their chances.
Now? The Canadiens have Cole Caufield, Tyler Toffoli, Mike Hoffman, Brendan Gallagher, Christian Dvorak, Nick Suzuki, and Josh Anderson. Drouin can score his fair share of goals too, but his wrist is an unknown. With this many options, you know he’s going to be passing the puck more often than not.
This is easily the best group of goal scorers the Canadiens have had in well over a decade. My prediction is that as a team, they will score 265 goals next season – which would put them in the top 15 in the NHL in the last two 82 game seasons.
How many do you think they will score? Enter your predictions below – we’ll add up the totals for you and present the average fan’s prediction before the season begins.