Time For Montreal Canadiens to REBUILD

Published November 30, 2021 at 5:24 PM

Well, the Bergevin era is over. Whether you loved him or hated him, things are now changing.

Listening to Geoff Molson yesterday I really got a sense that the rebuild is coming. He said he isn't afraid of that word, and that he didn't think the fanbase would be either. Brendan Gallagher, the de facto leader of the Habs at the moment, said after the game last night that he wants to be on a team where winning is the top priority. We haven't heard from Price on the matter, but I would have to assume his mentality is the same as Gallagher. Weber is gone, Danault is gone, Petry looks checked out, and even the young guys look mentally exhausted. Looking at everything listed above this has to be the time to rebuild. I can't see any other option for this team to ensure they can be competitive long term.

Moving on from this group will certainly be difficult for Habs fans. Even as I write this I'm almost questioning whether I could accept it, but the reality is it needs to happen. We have 2 deep drafts coming up this summer and next. The Habs are off to the worst start in the history of the franchise this year, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel to be seen. The chances to get a high pick, or even the top pick, is almost certain. Shane Wright is projected to go first overall this season, and next season there is Connor Bedard. Obviously trying to coordinate a plan around winning the draft lottery is not a smart move, but beyond those 2 players there is a whole host of young talent that could propel the Habs into the future. Imagine for a moment though the Habs draft Wright this year, and then get Michkov next season. They would have those two as a duo, and then Suzuki and Caufield as another duo. That could potentially form the backbone of the NHL's best top 6.

The Habs can definitely find takers for a number of their veterans. Probably not Price, not at his full salary anyway. But there would certainly be takers for others. During the summer there were rumours that Calgary was interested in Gallagher, and more recently The Rangers seemed to have interest in him. There would be no way he would be traded while Berg was in town, but now I could definitely see it happening. Some people may laugh at this, but I truly believe he could get a 1st round pick in return for him, provided the Habs would be willing to take back a bad contract, perhaps on a 1-2 year remaining term. Ben Chiarot could absolutely get a 1st round pick back for him. A contending team looking to add strength and stability to their defence would drool over adding him at the deadline. Although Petry hasn't looked good this season, I think he could also get a 1st rounder in return, with the Habs retaining salary. I believe all 3 of these moves could be done this season, and the Habs could have a similar looking draft to Arizona this summer. Imagine how excited the city would be, the draft in Montreal and the Habs having 3-4 first round picks? After the season ends I do believe other players like Drouin, Hoffman, Dvorak, Armia, and Allen could be moved. I don't think 1st round picks would be the returns on those players, but a mix of picks and young prospects would provide a pool of young talent to get the rebuild successfully moving.

A question likely being asked while this is being read is, who will the Habs actually put out on the ice if everyone is gone? I think they should take back bad, expiring contracts and fill in any roster spots with those players. The Habs certainly don't have a shortage of cash, and they can realistically run a roster like this for 2-3 seasons while the young talent is built up.

There are already good young players/prospects in the system, most notably, Suzuki, Caufield, Romanov, Norlinder, and Guhle. But the Habs also have others who are looking like they can take the next step and become full time NHL players. Sean Farrell is one. He was a late pick in 2020 and doesn't get much media attention, but I think he is a sleeper prospect who can do great things for the organization. He is currently playing for Harvard and has 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points in 9 games. Last year playing for the Chicago Steel in the USHL, he had 101 points in 53 games.

Looking at the players they currently have, plus the potential to add high end picks in 2 deep drafts, this has to be the time to go all in on the rebuild. It will be tough for the next 2-3 seasons, but it could finally end the drought we Habs fans have been living with since 1993.
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