Montreal Paying Price, But for What?
If I am 1 of 31 teams not named the Montreal Canadiens, I am calling Marc Bergevin about a deal. From an outside perspective, the Canadiens are putting their eggs in all the wrong baskets. Their latest venture was extending their star goaltender, Carey Price, through 2026 at a total of $84 million. Yes, they are paying the goaltender the same as Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews, the proud owners of 3 Stanley Cups. Bergevin’s rationale, as quoted by Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, was that, “it’s a position that’s hard to find and we have in our opinion one of the best in the business, if not the best.” One can argue that Price is one of the best in the game but hard to find? I am not so sure about that.
There were 8 goaltenders with a better save percentage than Price, according to NHL.com, including Vezina winner, Sergei Bobrovsky with a .931. And in case you forgot, Columbus was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs just as Montreal was. To sum it up, the Canadiens invested heavily in a goaltender who has never seen a Stanley Cup Final game, has a similar save percentage as many others, and they are a team with serious need of speed and scoring.
If there was one promising addition (no, not Karl Alzner), it was Jonathon Drouin. He is an all-offensive player, which they need, but it was not cheap. Trading Mikhail Sergechev was a steep price for Drouin as the big Russian is the type of defenseman the game is looking for. Yes, he is a prospect, but he can put up offense and would add speed on the back end. He is also coming off of a Memorial Cup victory as the host team, though Windsor were eliminated in the first round of the OHL playoffs. Adding an offensive forward is usually never a bad move but time will tell if the cost was worth it. Drouin’s style does not often mesh well with Claude Julien. See Tyler Seguin!
Many hockey insiders have rumored that Marc Bergevin is looking to unload Alex Galchenyuk, who Julien cannot decide is a center or winger. With a team that wants scoring, why add Drouin but drop Galchenyuk? His possession numbers and scoring efficiency are solid. His overall scoring is not high but Montreal is not exactly a high scoring team at even strength, despite having the fourth most amount of time at 5 on 5.* The Canadiens are a strong puck possession team but cannot afford to move a player that can score. So, if I am any team, I would be dialing Bergevin about a deal for Galchenyuk as he may thrive in a different system. Don't forget, that this is the same GM that traded P.K. Subban, who has more games in the finals than Carey Price.
So, was it really worth making Carey Price the highest paid goaltender in the NHL when your team lacks speed? Will Claude Julien be able to adapt to the pace of the NHL going forward to ensure that the team in front of Price is successful? Based on most of the decisions of Marc Bergevin, I do not see it happening. They are in win now mode with a team that got slower on the back end, which will doom them in the playoffs. For Price, I really hope it was worth it despite being paid handsomely. If Bergevin gets fired, and I would bet on it in the next two or three years, will the next GM value him the same? Without a Stanley Cup, there could be a whole lot of regret on both sides.
*Stats from stats.hockeyanalysis.com