As the NHL’s worst team, the Montreal Canadiens outperform practically every other team in at least one significant statistical category: the amount of holes in the lineup. General manager Kent Hughes will have his hands full trying to fill them this winter, whether it’s through the NHL Entry Draft, trade, or free agency!
So, here are the things that the Canadiens can work on in their offseason break!
New Full-Time Head Coach (Martin St. Louis)
In most cases, the search for a new head coach would take precedence. However, given that the Canadiens already have their man under contract, this is great news!
They plan to extend interim head coach Martin St. Louis’ contract as soon as possible.
Even if St. Louis faltered late in the season, few other coaches could have done better with the lineup he had. Finally, with the ambitions the Canadiens have (or should have) for 2022-23, St. Louis is undoubtedly the guy for the job right now, especially with a more complete club on the ice.
For several seasons, Suzuki has been predicted to fill the team’s need for a No. 1 centre. With Caufield’s comeback under St. Louis (22 goals and 35 points in 37 games), the Habs have two-thirds of a top line ready to go, leaving a need for another winger.
Josh Anderson has been their most frequently used linemate. In fact, the Caufield, Suzuki, Anderson line was the team’s most often used line this season.
And, ideally, the Canadiens would locate someone of comparable size who also plays a power-forward game, although with greater consistency and offensive ingenuity.
A new Goalie perhaps
Carey, the goalkeeper Price’s future is unknown. In fact, there are indications that Price may retire. It would be a radical move, but it is still a possibility, which means the Canadiens might be in the market for a No. 1 goalkeeper.
Cayden Primeau’s playoff performance in the American Hockey League may have put him back in position to be the Habs’ future goalie.
That would be a huge relief for the company. Even if it does, the Canadiens will require a stopgap remedy at the very least.
They do have Jake Allen. However, he’s more of a 1B who, with all due respect to the 2021 Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy winner, has shown he can’t carry the weight for an extended length of time.
A new Defenseman
Overall, the Canadiens’ defence is in solid position for the future, thanks to organisational strength on the left side. Shea Weber has “retired,” leaving the right side pretty bare. If the Canadiens deal Jeff Petry, which is becoming increasingly likely, the need to fill grows even larger. Shoes, as well.
As a result, as a stopgap solution, the Canadiens should explore re-signing pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) Chris Wideman.
It also wouldn’t hurt to take a right-handed offensive-minded defenseman in the draught. The only issue is, as there aren’t any projected draftees set to go as high as one of the first three picks at the Draft, it would be bad asset management to use that first-overall selection on one.