Although the Montreal Canadiens had the least amount of wins within the entire National Hockey League this year, it does not appear to be a continuing trend for the Habs. There may be light down the tunnel with Martin St. Louis behind the bench and 14 picks in the NHL 2022 Entry Draft (two first-rounders, one being the first overall). But still, this team had a horrific 2020-22 season after making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2020-21. There is still a large amount of work to do.
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By the Numbers
Power Play: 13.71% (31st)
Penalty Kill: 75.55% (27th)
Goals For: 218 (27th)
Goals Against: 317 (32nd)
Although the Canadiens had a tough year, stars like Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield still shined. Despite the Habs’ horrible positioning in the standings, these two guys battled every game. In his third NHL season, Suzuki led the team in points with 61, setting his regular-season point record. In 2021-22 he notched 21 goals and fed 40 goals. In his rookie season, Caufield led the team in scoring with 23 goals. He also placed second on the team in points with 43, which gives optimism for his future in the NHL.
Although Joel Armia has never been expected to be the team’s superstar, he barely assisted as a depth guy in the 2021-22 season. He scored six goals and tallied eight assists in 60 games with a plus-minus of -15. He had one goal and one assist in his last 15 games in 2021-22. Those statistics are rather underwhelming, and according to a Canadiens beat writer, he was one of the biggest disappointments on the ice for the Habs this season.
Behind the Bench Analysis
When St. Louis was brought into Montreal on February 9th, 2022, it was apparent that there were some changes taking place in the locker room and behind the bench. The team wanted a more unified culture, which was very noticeable to the public. After being hired, St. Louis coached the Habs for 37 games in the backend of the season and led them to 14 victories. It is clear that he is all in on the development of the young players who create a large portion of this team, like Caufield. Regardless, St. Louis still has a lot of work to get the Habs back up to the franchise the Montreal fans are used to.
Front Office Analysis
It was quite an interesting season for the Canadiens’ front office. Less than five months after reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2021, the Montreal Canadiens let go of Marc Bergevin on November 28th, 2021. Following that, Jeff Gorton, the former New York Rangers general manager, stepped in as the new executive vice president of hockey operations and would search for a new general manager. On Tuesday, January 18th, Kent Hughes was named the Habs’ new general manager. Hughes soon fired Dominique Ducharme and hired St. Louis as the interim head coach, which was an excellent thing for that locker room from a media perspective.
Hughes used to be St. Louis’s agent, so these two were already familiar with working together. Regardless, they still have a lot of work moving into the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and the 2022-23 season. Nevertheless, Hughes brought in St. Louis because of his drive. St. Louis said, “I’m not coming here to be a substitute teacher.”
2022 NHL Entry Draft
The Canadiens have 14 picks in the upcoming draft, one being the first overall pick. This is Montreal’s first overall pick since 1980, and it’s their first time hosting the draft since 1985, which means there will be a wild party in Montreal this July. The Habs indeed have some leeway this off-season with the number of picks they have, giving them the opportunity to make some trades. However, regardless of what they do with their draft selections, they will surely bring in some solid new talent with two first-round picks, two second-round picks, three third-round picks, three fourth-round picks, one fifth-round pick, one sixth-round pick, and two seventh-round picks.
The Habs are certainly in rebuild mode. They have many needs to fill, such as forward depth, super start blue-liners, and a number two goalie to pair with Carey Price. However, it is clear that the Canadiens’ front office has a plan to assess those gaps and work towards a successful future. It is unknown whether they go for a guy who can impact next season or plan for years to come, but they can go down both roads. And with a very underwhelming 2021-22 season with many face-changes within the front office and organization, the Habs need to get off on the right foot in 2022-23.
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