As free agency is now in full effect, many teams look to fill their roster holes with players in order to be competitive. Many teams sign big name players to lucrative contracts while others stay away from all this madness.
This year, Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin played it safe. The longest contract he signed as of today was a two-year deal to Matthew Peca and the biggest name he signed was Tomas Plekanec. This was the best way to truly kick off an important off-season.
To those who want a quick fix and want to be very competitive as of next season, I give you a one word response: patience.
The Montreal Canadiens can’t afford to patch things up. They don’t have the ammunition to trade what St. Louis gave up to acquire Ryan O’Reilly and they haven’t had the success as of late to attract players such as Paul Stastny and John Tavares didn’t see Montreal as a win now team. So patience it is.
If you love what the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets have done, then this should be the route that has be taken. Both teams landed major pieces in the drafts and made some moves to acquire significant assets. Marc Bergevin’s plan was to build through the draft and now he has no choice but to put that plan into full effect.
Who’s part of this process?
The biggest names that have been talked about are Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Ryan Poehling. They are not only the two best prospects the Canadiens have but they are also playing the most important position a team has, a spot in which Montreal is the most desperate to fill. They are centers. They also seem to be creating a bond with each other but perhaps the greatest part of all is that they are young and are showing signs of maturity and high levels of character.
Jacob Olofsson and Lukas Vejdemo are dark horses to make a significant impact as top 6 centers in the NHL. On the wing, they added Jesse Ylonen this past draft and he brings a high level of dynamic play and playmaking abilities. Other players such as Will Bitten and Joni Ikonen as well as roster players like Artturi Lehkonen, Nikita Scherbak, Brendan Gallagher, Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin add extreme depth among top 9 forwards.
On defence, the best prospects are already on the team and showing great signs.
Noah Juulsen and Victor Mete may prove to be key players to this process. Josh Brook, Cale Fleury and Rinat Valiev have a top four ceiling. The dark horse for a potential top four spot is Seattle Thunderbirds defensemen Jarret Tyszka who played an excellent 2nd half in the Western Hockey League this past season.
In goal, the Canadiens are very deep. With the likes of Charlie Lindgren, Michael McNiven and Cayden Primeau, it ultimately made Providence star Hayden Hawkey expendable before he was traded recently to the Edmonton Oilers. Primeau will likely get himself on the Team USA World Junior Championship roster.
That tournament will likely feature many Canadiens prospects.
The best teams today are built with prospects. All organizations have players waiting at lower levels and affiliations of their perspective franchises. They shed veterans and replace them with young players and stay competitive.
They draft in later rounds and find quality players. The Montreal Canadiens have to do the same. They need more of their roster players to be their own developed players. Get their kids in the lineup and let them develop the right way and it looks like this is the path they are taking.
Marc Bergevin should keep doing exactly what he is doing which is using the tools he has in order to acquire more assets such as draft picks and prospects. In doing this, it would make the next decade better rather than just the present. While re-introducing Tomas Plekanec to the local Montreal media on Sunday, he did mention the fact that this is not a rebuild and to this point, I certainly agree.
They don’t need another 5 years of being a bottom 5 team because all they need is to be patient and continue to draft well because that should lead to one day becoming a yearly contender and stop this continuous cycle of being considered mediocre.