Saturday, July 3, 2010

2010-11 Habs

The Habs made quite a bit of headway in securing next year's lineup, by signing all of their RFA's except Price and Lapierre, and their lone must-sign UFA, Tomas Plekanec. Given these signings plus the Halak trade, the lineup for 2010-11 is taking shape.

The goaltending and defense situations are the most obvious. Price has been handed the reins again as starting goaltender (a big mistake on Gauthier's part, at least from a negotiation standpoint). Alex Auld will be his backup. Price has a lot of potential, and we'll see if he can live up to it, especially with the rule changes governing pad sizes.

On the blueline, both Mara and Bergeron will no doubt not be re-signed. Instead, Gauthier will go with Markov, Subban, Hamrlik, Spacek, Gorges and Gill. O'Byrne will serve as the seventh. This gives Martin a better mix of left and right handed defensemen than last year. It also has a nice mix of youth and veteran experience, as well as stay at home types vs the offensive minded. This is clearly the strength of the Habs lineup.

Up front, the only changes are the UFA's that couldn't be re-signed due to cap issues: Moore and Metropolit. Moore was brought in to improve the Habs' percentages on faceoffs. He did a decent job in the regular season, but fell off precipitously in the playoffs. Lars Ellers will probably take his place, given his projection as a future second line center man.

Metropolit was a gritty fourth liner, and had a much needed right handed shot (used to good effect on the PP). But he doesn't fit with the Habs' desire for speed. Gauthier acquired and signed Dustin Boyd as a potential fourth line center man, but it says here that Boyd is just insurance in case Ryan White doesn't work out. White showed real promise last year, and would be the only right handed center in the lineup.

So that would probably leave the forward lines looking something like the following:
Cammalleri - Plekanec - Kostitsyn
Pouliot - Gomez - Gionta
Moen - Ellers - Lapierre
Pyatt - White - Darche

Kostitsyn is a RFA next year. This is his last chance to prove that he wasn't yet another first round bust for the Habs. There are a few others that could make the lineup and push players like Pouliot, White and Darche for playing time. Pacioretty and Boyd would be the most likely candidates to round out the lineup, but JT Wyman's size and right handed shot would fit nicely. Ben Maxwell is another candidate and got a long look last year, but rarely made an impact.

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