August 31, 2017, 9:57 AM ET [78 Comments]
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With rookie camps right around the corner, the sense of the season is upon us. Whether it's predictors, fantasy drafts or even just a greater focus on the upcoming year we all have our ways of getting excited for puck drop 2017. Thought with this heightened interest for many teams, the Canadiens in particular, there are still many questions that have many wondering if this team is a contender or pretender.
The team is still rolling with $9 million in cap space and at this point their big late season move has been signing Eric Gelinas to a PTO, which makes people wonder what's the point of this? Well if he makes the team good on him, but it's just another 6-7 guy on a team that has stock piled them to begin with. He makes the team, just means someone else has to travel to Laval and if he doesn't make the team, no big deal that's why he had to accept a PTO in August.
Canadiens management seems to believe in what they have on the wings to give them a shot at being competitive, and that seems like a safe assessment. Pacioretty, Drouin, Lehkonen, Gallagher, Hemsky, and Byron fill out the spots nicely in the top 9 and give them great depth in that area. If Drouin breaks out, Gallagher is healthy and Lehkonen builds on what he started then goals will finally not be an issue and we'll all forget about Radulov in Dallas.
The center position is very worrisome and if things do not workout then the depth down the middle will rival what the Golden Knights have. If people thought Therrien had little patience for Galchenyuk then people will get to see Galchenyuk get the Julien treatment once he realizes that he's never going to be a perinial Selke candidate. Danault is a wild card. He built chemistry with a lot of wingers in Montreal as he worked his way up the line-up, but if Galchenyuk flops as the team's number 1 I don't see Danault being able to carry the load a a number 1 C for a whole year, plus if they squeak into the playoffs... Those are the projected top 2 centers, with the 3rd being Plekanec, and if all goes well for the other two then the 2-way vet will fit perfectly with the role and ice time given because the days of him being a lower end, top 6 center are behind him.
For Canadiens fans, while the spots seem filled the team somehow feels incomplete, but with little options unless a trade is on the horizon what they have now will be what hits the ice in October, but if things go south then many won't be on it by April.