Frank Seravalli was joined by Mike McKenna to discuss the future of the Montreal Canadiens on the latest episode of Daily face-to-face live.
Frank Seravalli: Let’s take a look at our offseason series where we take a look at a team each day that is in full offseason mode we have 28 at this point with only four remaining the Montreal Canadiens are in place today. What struck me about Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton’s tenure as general manager and president of hockey operations was the series of small victories they managed to string together.
You make five, eight or 10 smart moves, they suddenly add up to much bigger moves at the end. But when you look at the Montreal Canadiens and where they finished. The obvious practice success with Marty St. Louis leading things off the bench and the positive direction they are heading in going forward. What stands out to you as their top priority heading into this offseason?
Mike McKenna: They still believe they can challenge for the Stanley Cup playoffs next year. I have no doubt, because much will depend on health. You have Caufield, Dach, Slafkovsky who need to be in the line-up more next season. For me, I think they’re going to have to consolidate the middle a bit. Sean Monahan, this ship probably sailed. They need some depth from the start to complement some of the younger players.
What’s interesting though is that on the face of it I think they need a defender, a veteran defender to help the three debuting players in Guhle, Barron and Xhekaj. I don’t think that should happen now that I’ve spoken to some of the young players. We can’t trade some of the veterans and we probably don’t need to add any either.
At the end of the day, I think there are still some growing pains that these young players will learn on the job. But Matheson, Edmundson and Savard play a huge role in that mix and Wideman will likely slip this year as a 6-7th defender depending on his health. So that surprised me a bit, but I think they need help up front, Frank, more than they would at the back, even though there’s little experience over there.
Frank Seravalli: It’s funny you say that because I look at their attacking group and say they’re not far from competitive. I don’t think they’re a playoff team next season, I think they just have too much work to do, personally I’d like to see a little more depth on that backend, quality depth. I still think you’re missing the real leader of this band. Like who is your number one, who do you rely on to be the only person that separates you on defense.
And then for me the other big question is on the goaltending front, Carey Price held the fort for so long in Montreal. Jake Allen is under contract for two more years and definitely someone who can help bridge that gap. But he is certainly not the long-term solution already at 32 years old. Who’s going to be that guy who can really stabilize you in the net?
Mike McKenna: I expect them to pick up high again when it comes to goalkeeping this year. Allen will be a palliative, I think Montembeault at 26 has improved, it’s probably a year where he has to play 50 games and show if he can actually be number one or not. But they have to grow from within, I don’t think Cayden Primeau has shown he’s ready for that so I expect them to come back high at goalkeeping.
You can watch the rest of the episode here…