The Montreal Canadiens season has finally come to an end and while some may be disappointed, there is simply no reason to be. They ended the season with a 44-30-8 record which was good enough for 14th in the NHL despite missing the playoffs. The two major trades that they made in the off-season proved to work out very well for them as Tomas Tatar and Max Domi both put up career numbers in their first season in Montreal. Carey Price was the old Carey Price once Shea Weber returned to the Habs lineup after missing the first 31 games of the season.
With this season being a rebuilding year, there were a lot of surprises that emerged from the Montreal Canadiens. The two big surprises in my book were rookie center Jesperi Kotkaniemi and veteran forward Andrew Shaw.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi (11G,23A,34P): The third overall pick in the 2018 Draft wasn’t expected to spend the whole year in Montreal, but did and put up some very strong numbers. He spent the majority of the year as the Habs third line center and did a solid job. He won 45.7% which isn’t great, but I’m not complaining about that. Overall, Habs fans should be ecstatic about what Kotkaniemi brought to the table.
Andrew Shaw (19G,28A,47P): Despite playing in only 63 games due to injury, Shaw had a career-high 47 points and came a goal short from tying his career high in goals. When Shaw originally joined Montreal, he was brought in for size and has emerged into a guy who can not only play the body, but also has a knack for putting up points as well.
In a season that was supposed to be filled with disappointment, the season ends with only one clear disappointment. The Habs PP was incapable of performing this season and finished 30th in the NHL with a mere 13.2 percent success rating. It’s not that Montreal doesn’t have guys who can score on the power play, it’s just that they can’t find a way to set up and take advantage of the opportunities.
I mean, at one point, the Habs had Joel Armia, a guy who hadn’t scored a PP goal in his life on the PP. In the end, there was one bright spot of the Habs power play at the end of the season and that was Jordan Weal. Weal is a guy who is quick and can move the puck and became a light in a rather dark power play for Montreal.
Notable Mention: Antti Niemi had a god awful season for Montreal, especially down the stretch. Niemi failed to give the Habs any source of confidence and was one of the main reasons I believe Price played so much down the stretch. With this being said, I believe that there is no way Niemi is back next season in a Habs uniform. I would expect to see Charlie Lindgren move into the backup position which would also give Cayden Primeau some well needed starts down in Laval.
Why You Should Be Excited about Next Season
The Habs are going to be a very fun team to watch next season with Ryan Poehling and Jesperi Kotkaniemi possibly both starting the season in Montreal. In his only game with Montreal this season, Poehling picked up three goals and the shootout winner in a 5-4 win in the season finale. Montreal needed to get younger and they have been and will continue to get younger over the next few years.
Guys like Josh Brook and Cale Fleury will help solidify Montreal’s defense which hasn’t been anything to ride home about over the past few seasons. I believe that Montreal will be a playoff team and if everything goes according to plan, they could possibly be a team that could go deep into the playoffs.