Montreal Canadiens Defense Taking Shape Ahead of 2020-21 Season

Montreal Canadiens Defense Taking Shape Ahead of 2020-21 Season

by November 1, 2020 0 comments

When the 2019-2090 National Hockey League regular season was brought to an abrupt halt due to COVID-19, the Montreal Canadiens had a 31-31-9 record through 71 games. After the commissioner’s office in conjunction with the player’s association (PA) adopted an expanded postseason format in the summer, the Canadiens were given a second wind. The Habs rallied and pulled off an improbable upset defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualification round in four games (3-1) officially advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs before losing in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers.

As we look towards the 2020-21 campaign, the Canadiens are one of the most fascinating teams in the NHL. Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin added the likes of talented forward Tyler Toffoli in free-agency, and Joel Edmundson and Josh Anderson via trade to further bolster his team’s lineup. On defense, however, is a real point of interest for the Canadiens leading up to next season for a variety of different reasons. Who slots into the top-six and who’s on the outside looking in? Let’s read on and find out.

Shea Weber: First up is team captain, defensive stalwart, and tower of power, Shea Weber. Although he’s battled the dreaded injury bug (on and off) over the past three seasons, Weber is the undisputed leader for head coach Claude Julien and the Habs, and an absolute force to be reckoned with. On the ice, Weber is mean, physical, intelligent, and has an absolute rocket of a shot from the point that saw him tally 15 goals last season, and 14 the season prior. He plays an “in your face” brand of hockey and is one of those players who you love to have on your team. At 35 years of age, Weber is certainly no spring chicken anymore, but he can still change the dynamic of a game with his sheer size and unique skill set. Look for the Sicamous, British Columbia native to log big, important minutes once again, on the Montreal blue-line this season.

Jeff Petry: Up next is Jeff Petry who comes in as one of the most underrated defensemen in the National Hockey League. Fresh off a (well-deserved) four-year/$25 million contract extension, Petry should have some added pep in his step this upcoming season after a phenomenal regular season (and postseason) with Montreal in 2019-20. As a player, Petry has done everything and anything asked of him in the “Tricolore” of Montreal and has emerged as a fan favorite amongst the passionate Canadiens faithful for his strong, consistent play, and community involvement. He’s also committed to the team (and city) for the next four years which is a huge plus. He’s offensively-gifted, strong in his own end and a very graceful skater for a big man. At 6’3, 200 pounds, Petry is a sturdy and stable right-shot defenseman and one of Julien’s most trusted blue-liners. Look for the big man to pick up right where he left off in 2020-21.

Alexander Romanov: The Tsar has arrived, ladies and gentlemen. One of the most highly-anticipated prospects is set to hit the ice next season for Montreal. His name (all the way from Russia) is Alexander Romanov. After being drafted in the second round, 38th overall at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Canadiens fans from far and wide have been itching to see this kid play. If recent history is any indication, Romanov should be a shoo-in to crack the Habs roster next season as one of the league’s most coveted prospects. Listed at 5’11, 185 pounds, Romanov is a fierce, physical defenseman that’s just oozing with raw skill and potential. He’s strong on his feet, reads the game extremely well, and loves to lay the body. I love his vision as a youngster and how he’s just brewing with confidence both with and without the puck. The last few seasons have seen the likes of Russian- born blue-liners such as Dmitry Orlov, Mikhail Sergachev, and Ivan Provorov take the league by storm. I think we’ll have one more in Romanov-this kids the real deal.

Ben Chiarot: 29-year-old Hamilton, Ontario native Ben Chiarot put together a pretty impressive campaign in La Belle Province in 2019-20. Quietly going about his business, he managed to tally nine goals and 21 points to go along with a plus-five rating while averaging 23:08 worth of ice time. After spending his entire career in Winnipeg prior to last year, Chiarot impressed with his size, smarts, and physical play all season long. A fixture in Montreal’s top-four, the 2020-21 campaign will be slightly more competitive for Chiarot to keep his place. You can definitely pencil him in on Montreal’s opening-night lineup-this guy’s earned it, and then some.

Joel Edmundson: The Canadiens have added some serious size this offseason with Toffoli and Anderson up front and Edmundson on the blue-line. Imagine opposing teams’ forwards going up against Weber, Petry and Edmundson back-to-back-to back? Not exactly a walk in the park, now is it? Tipping the scale at 6’4, 215 pounds, Edmundson has been a solid, consistent performer at the NHL level, and has the ability to play either as a depth piece, or in a shut-down top-four role. The Canadiens are lucky to have him, and own a pretty formidable core of piece rounding out their blue-line heading into 2020-21. I’m a big fan of Edmundson because he adds some size and truculence to the Habs D-core, and will help their penalty killing unit tremendously playing anywhere between 13-20 minutes per game.

Victor Mete: Rounding out the top-six is former London Knights standout, Victor Mete, who’s fresh off a one-year (prove-it) contract extension worth $700,000. At 22 years of age, Mete has shown glimpses of what he can be at the NHL level with his agility, gap-closing tendencies, strong skating ability, and puck-moving prowess. Listed at just 5’9, 183 pounds (on a good day), Mete remains an integral member of the Canadiens blue-line, but will need to play with a little more jam, consistency, and offensive production if he is to remain a long-term fixture in Montreal. We’ll just have to wait and see how the season pans out for the Canadiens and Mete.

On the Bubble: Xavier Ouellet, Josh Brook, Brett Kulak, Cale Fleury

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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