The Montreal Canadiens were poised to build on a terrific 2014-15 last year only for their season to end in November. They didn’t know it at the time but the reigning Hart and Vezina winner Carey Price had his season end after only 12 games started. Most people expect the Canadiens to bounce back this year but after one of the worst trades in recent memory, it’s all going to be on Price’s shoulders. In my opinion, it’ll take another all-world season just for Montreal to contend for the playoffs. Despite a flawed roster, they still have some interesting fantasy pieces so let’s take a look!
Over the last two seasons (78 starts), Price has 54 wins, a sub 2 GAA and a ,933 sv%. Those numbers are beyond absurd and that’s why he went in the first round last season. I would never draft a goalie in the first round because it puts you too far behind the eight ball when it comes to scoring. Regardless, there are a few goalies that I rank ahead of Price and there are a few reasons why. First, while he appears to be past it, the injury is still a potential issue. More importantly, I expect the Canadiens to take a massive dropoff defensively due to the departure of P.K. Subban. Subban is one of the best possession players in the league while Shea Weber has had a negative relative Corsi the last couple years. In basic terms, the Predators were a better possession team with Weber off the ice than on. I expect Price to face a lot more shots than he has in the past. While his save percentage should remain terrific, I think the days of an elite GAA could be in the past. I’ll probably still have him as a top 5 goalie when all is said and done but I think Price is more likely to be ranked 1st or 2nd with Braden Holtby by ADP.
Montreal was finally smart and got a quality backup goalie, signing Al Montoya. Montoya had a superb 2.18 GAA in 25 starts for the Panthers last year. At this point, his value would solely be as insurance for Price.
This is one of the ugliest groups of defensemen in the NHL. While his game in real life has fallen off quite a bit, Shea Weber still has plenty of fantasy value. He scored 20 goals in 2015-16, including an incredible 14 on the power play. Weber is also a monster at hits and blocks for those of you in leagues who count those categories. That said, his penalty minutes and shots on goal took a big step back last year. I don’t think this trade does too much for his fantasy value; he’ll be somewhere outside of the top 10 but within in the top 15 defensemen.
Andrei Markov is a nice option for assists and special teams points. Otherwise, there isn’t much there. He doesn’t shoot the puck enough at this point in his career and the penalty minutes are mediocre. In some team builds, I could see carrying him as your last defenseman in a 12’er but I’d rather only hold him if you’re hit with the injury bug.
Nathan Beaulieu has some potential but it’s not as an offensive player. In deep leagues, he could be a PIM boost in desperation plus his minutes will increase. That said, he still won’t be on the power play so the value is minimal.
Jeff Petry is the opposite; for deep leagues he should get you decent shots and some cheap special teams points but there’s not much here. The other guys aren’t even worth mentioning and that’s why I worry for Carey Price.
Max Pacioretty has turned into one of the most consistent forwards in the league. The fact that you can almost bank on 30 goals and 300ish shots gets him a ton of value. The penalty minutes are decent enough that it doesn’t hurt you and he’s had 30+ assists for two straight years. Patches is probably in the 30-40th overall range worthy of a high end pick.
I wrote last year that I thought Alex Galchenyuk‘s breakout was a year away, mostly because he was stuck on the wing. Well, Michel Therrien moved him to center in the middle of the season and Galchenyuk took off. The 22 year old ended up being one of the lone bright spots scoring 30 goals while maintaining or improving everywhere else. He looks to be locked into the 1C role now; a 70 point season wouldn’t shock me. The lack of PIM and decent but not great shots will probably keep him right around 50th overall with upside to be better.
Brendan Gallagher was outstanding this year on a per game basis. He took well over 3 shots per game and almost had 20+20 despite playing only 53 games. While the Canadiens on the whole scare me, I think the first line could be terrific. Gallagher is certainly a top 100 player (I’m guessing he settles around 75-80?) and is a great fit for teams who are light in shots going towards the middle of their draft.
As expected, Tomas Plekanec took a step back last year after an incredible 2014-15. That’s not to say he was bad; in fact, he was a hold the entire season. However, the shots dropped back down and his goals were almost cut in half as a result. In deep leagues, I like drafting Plekanec a lot because he’s only missed 1 game in the last 3 years, 3 in the last 5, and 12 in the last 10 seasons. Dependability like that is crucial in deeper leagues. In a standard REL, I’d draft him in the later rounds but wouldn’t be opposed to dropping him fairly quickly.
After playing in the KHL the last four years, Alexander Radulov is making his return to the NHL with the Canadiens. He’s still only 30 years old and was productive during his time in Nashville. Radulov is a gamble but one that’s worth taking in the middle to late rounds in standard drafts.
Andrew Shaw moved from Chicago to Montreal which puts a big dent in his value. He received an unwarranted amount of time on the first line in Chicago; I doubt he’s in the top 6 for Montreal. I wouldn’t draft him in 12’ers and would leave him for potential streaming.
There are some younger guys with potential i.e. Sven Andrighetto and Daniel Carr who should be in their opening day lineup but they’re streamers at best to start.
I’m going to start listing the top 5 prospects from a fantasy perspective for each team. If you want more details, feel free to ask me in the comments.
1 – Mikhail Sergachev
2 – Zachary Fucale
3 – Charles Hudon
4 – Mike McCarron
5 – Charlie Lindgren
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Thursday with the Ottawa
Karlssons Senators. Please leave any questions or comments that you have below; it’s much appreciated. Take care everyone!