5 Montreal Canadiens To Keep An Eye On During Training Camp
State Of The Montreal Canadiens Heading Into Training Camp
Heading into he 2013-14 NHL season, the Montreal Canadiens are hopeful that they will be serious contenders for the Stanley Cup, and for good reason. During the lockout shortened 2013 season, the Canadiens finished with the second most points in the Eastern Conference and the fourth most points in the entire NHL, earning them a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They went on to lose in the first round to the Ottawa Senators, a brief disappointment, but on the whole a season that provided significant reason to be optimistic that the 2013-14 season will be a great one in Montreal.
With the return of Alex Galchenyuk, Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty and Andrei Markov, Montreal will be returning a group that is both very talented and very young. Out of the players listed that make up their core, only Markov is over 26, making it likely that this group will only be getting better with time. This is very encouraging both for this season and the future.
To facilitate the progress of this core group, the Canadiens signed Daniel Briere, Douglas Murray and George Parros this summer, in order to provide some extra size, skill and grit to their roster. The size and grit that Murray and Parros provide will be especially welcome to a Canadiens team that was very small last season, and tended to get pushed around when they faced larger teams, such as their arch-nemesis Boston Bruins. Having this on the roster will help give protection to skill players such as Briere, Pacioretty and Subban that last season would have been pushed around the ice with no real fear of retribution.
Knowing that they have a group of players that is actually better than their division winning team from last season will be a good sign for things to come for the Canadiens, but will not directly result in another playoff berth. However, this knowledge provides a lot of reason for optimism entering training camp next week.
With the opening of training camp coming up and the 2013-14 season right around the corner, we have provided a list of the five Canadiens to keep an eye on.
Despite being picked with the third overall pick of the 2012 NHL draft, there was little belief that Alex Galchenyuk would actually make Montreal's roster out of training camp last season. Not only did he make the roster, but he compiled 27 points and a +14 rating while playing in all 48 of the Canadiens' roster. These were impressive totals, and left hope that over the summer he would spend a lot of time in the gym filling out his 6-foot-1,185 pound frame. It will be telling in training camp whether or not Galchenyuk added strength to complement his already high skill set.
Jarred Tinordi was the Canadiens first round pick in the 2010 draft, and spent time in both the AHL and NHL last season. Tinordi played 67 games in the AHL, where he compiled 13 points, and 8 regular season games in the NHL. He impressed enough in Montreal to stay for the playoffs and feature in all five playoff games, showing that he is rated highly by Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien. During training camp, he will be fighting to steal a roster spot from one of the seven defensemen that the Canadiens currently have under contract.
After winning the Norris Trophy last season, it is clear that P.K. Subban is one of the best defensemen in the NHL, but is he really the .90 points per game player that he was last season? Based on his previous .475 points per game rate, the conventional wisdom would say no, but he will have the ability to prove that wisdom wrong, starting with training camp. Oh, and he is going to be a restricted free agent after the 2013-14 season, so that may be a little motivation to show up to training camp better than ever this season.
Things went down hill fast for Carey Pricefter after starting off the 2013 with a very solid regular season, as he posted a .856 save percentage and 2-6 record during his last eight games of the regular season. Price only continued this poor performance in the playoffs, as he posted a .894 save percentage and 1-2 record before being removed in Game 4 with a second degree sprain of the MCL in his left knee. It will be very important to the Canadiens' hopes during the 2013-14 season that Price shows up to training camp both healthy and effective.
After signing with the Canadiens on a 2 year, $8 million deal this summer , the heat is on Daniel Briere. Sure, Briere is a native of Quebec and will initially get a warm welcoming for this, but in the end, his acceptance from fans will really come down to production. If he looks more like the player that picked up 16 points last season than the guy who picked up 68 points in the 2010-11 season, this warm welcome will wear out very quickly. Coming to camp in shape and motivated would be a good start.