The Montreal Canadiens made a series of moves this offseason that many are calling incredibly smart, but also bold in an attempt to improve their situation as a contender next season. And, with the NHL potentially having to revise their divisions to work within the guidelines of travel and crossing the border, that they are potentially joining a Canadian division makes them a potential top team should the NHL lean that way.
Considering that’s a presumptuous statement based on the skill that exists on some of the other Canadian teams, what did Montreal do that should make them so confident? We can point to three key things.
Canadiens Are Deep
The Toronto Maple Leafs added pieces this offseason to the bottom of their lineup including Wayne Simmonds, Joe Thornton and others that will make them a strong team and hopefully less reliant on the top of their lineup. The Edmonton Oilers have to two best players in the world and potentially a decent third line now. Calgary filled serious holes. But, the Canadiens are deep everywhere and not just with rookies or aged veterans.
Their center depth is fantastic if the young guys continue to step the natural steps forward most expect. Their winger depth is some of the best in the NHL now with the additions of Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson and their blue in drastically improved. This isn’t even mentioning their one-two punch in net with Carey Price and Jake Allen.
While that depth might not last beyond this season, the Canadiens have the pieces to make a run this year and have players who can play up and down the lineup in multiple roles depending on injury or team chemistry.
Canadiens Have A Good Mix
One of the reasons Toronto added the pieces they did was because they didn’t want to lean so heavily on guys who’d never won in the postseason. Montreal already has that mix and added more of it this offseason. With veterans like Shea Weber and Toffoli mixed with the younger, hungry guys playing for contracts, there’s a little bit of everything on this Habs roster.
Their old isn’t too old. Their young isn’t too young and their style of play varies with skill, grit, speed, sandpaper and more, all combined into one lineup. If you want to play multiple styles, the Canadiens should be able to keep up.
The Players Have a Lot to Prove
Whether it be for contract reasons, bouncing back from an injury, or to show last season’s upset of the Pittsburgh Penguins wasn’t a fluke, there are a lot of reasons players on the team have something to prove.
A few hefty contracts were just signed and some of these players are going to want to show they’re worth the investment their GM just made. Others are playing to keep their spot on the roster while the younger guys come knocking. Some are looking to convince their GM they’re worth a pretty penny in a tight market. Whatever argument you want to make as to why these players have something to play for, nearly half the roster has an internal motivation of some kind.
A case can be made that every team has these types of players; that is true. But, some of the players on the Canadiens roster have a lot more to lose than just a chance at the Stanley Cup if things don’t go as planned.
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