The Montreal Canadiens have just went through a rough pre-season that has fans thinking. Questioning not only the integrity of this team, but the level in which they can compete. As we get closer and closer to the start of the regular season, fans are going to start to get impatient with this team. Can they win? Yes. Will they though? Ultimately, the answer isn’t that simple. There are a few things we can look at, like the current team overview, a look at some prospects and the future of the Canadiens.
Current Team Overview
The Canadiens have had a fair bit of success over the past few years when it comes to the regular season. Over the long-term however, their ability to remain competitive may become an issue. Their current core is composed of players like Carey Price, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Drouin, Shea Weber, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw, and Brendan Gallagher. This is a very strong group of skilled players who can and will challenge for a Stanley Cup. The problem is that only three of these players are under 25 and their supporting cast is aging. Their core is in ‘win now’ mode, and is capable of challenging for a cup right now. A lot of their core however, has maybe 5-7 years of competitive play left in them, before they slow down and eventually retire.
The 2017-18 Montreal Canadiens pic.twitter.com/LlmO4LYxA3
— Beer haver (@hockeeyyy) September 28, 2017
Montreal has seemingly poor luck with developing prospects and getting them to have success at the NHL level. Players like Jared Tinordi, Jacob De La Rose, and Sven Andrighetto are recent examples of players who have not yet transferred their skills to the NHL level. Failures like that are going to cost the Montreal Canadiens when their core players start to show their age. In contrast, look at the Chicago Blackhawks. For years, they’ve had to let players go or trade them in order to save cap space, yet they are still competitive. This is because they have prospects mature and take those spots in the bottom six whenever players are let go. The Blackhawks are a perfect model for teams looking to sustainably have long-term success. However, the failure to develop top-notch, quality talent in the minors has made the future of the Canadiens questionable.
The Future of the Habs
Ultimately, the Montreal Canadiens can be cup contenders. The thing is, they’ve had Carey Price on such a good contract and didn’t bring anyone in to make a real, serious push to win. If none of their prospects step up they will fall from being contenders and then fall into a rebuild. They do have a lot of prospects currently bubbling under such as Artturi Lehkonen, Nikita Scherbak, Phillip Danault, Mike McCarron, Noah Juulsen, Zachary Fucale, and Charlie Lindgren. If some, or all of these prospects can grow on their game at the NHL level they will be able to stay competitive. Look for the Canadiens to either fail or succeed entirely based on the success of these prospects. Regardless, look for them to still be highly competitive for another 3-5 years with or without those prospects.
Do you agree with my opinion? Leave your responses in the comments below.