2017-18 Montreal Canadiens Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
It was a rocky year last year for the Canadiens. They won their division, which is obviously a good thing. But they faced a surprising February coaching change, bringing Claude Julien back to town for another coaching stint. And when things really mattered in the postseason they forgot how to score and gave up without much more than a whimper. Then P.K. Subban, who fans still miss in a serious way after his shocking season last summer, went all the way to the Cup final with his new Nashville squad to add insult to injury. The team really needs to find a way to get better results when it matters and avoid all the drama. And they got pretty aggressive this offseason in an attempt to reshape and improve themselves.
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Montreal Canadiens Offseason Moves
Everything that happened this offseason was driven by two unavoidable realities. They needed to pay all-World goalie Carey Price, and they paid him handsomely - $10.5 million a year for eight years. They needed to lock up stud youngster Alex Galchenyuk, and they now have him tied up for three years and $4.9 million per. Those moves forced some limits on what else they could do but also laid a solid foundation to build on. That wasn't the end of the bold moves, though. Far from it. They traded away top defenseman prospect Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay for immensely-talented forward Jonathan Drouin, who had a redemption year last year after a rough start to his career, and then locked up Drouin for six years and $33 million. And they added defenseman Karl Alzner for five years and nearly $5 million per year.
To make way for those four sizeable contracts they had to let some guys go.
Alexander Radulov, who revived his NHL career in Montreal, cashed in with
Dallas. And four defensemen are gone. Andrei Markov and Nikita Nesterov
returned to Russia to play. Alexei Emelin went to Las Vegas in the
expansion draft. And Nathan Beaulieu was traded to Buffalo. Markov, Emelin
and Beaulieu were the three guys who played with top defender Shea Weber
last year, so they have a real hole to fill. Alzner might seem like the
obvious choice, but he is likely better suited on the second pairing. David
Schlemko was added as well, but while he is a handy journeyman he's likely
not what Weber needs. The answer may be Jakub Jerabek, a 26-year-old free
agent addition. The Czech defender shone in the KHL in his first year in
that league last year after previously playing at home. He's promising, and
he comes cheap on a one-year deal, but the transition from the KHL to the
NHL isn't always smooth.
The team also added a couple of low-cost veterans late in their careers, hoping that they still have a little left to give - forward Ales Hemsky and all-round utility man Mark Streit.
Montreal Canadiens NHL Outlook
Last year the team had offensive woes. Eight teams outscored them in the Eastern Conference, and with the loss of Radulov and Markov they have some offense to make up for. Drouin is obviously a boost, but he needs to find the right line to play on, and he needs to show he can handle the pressure of being the NHL's best Quebecois player in the hockey mad-province of Quebec. There isn't a player in the league who will face more pressure - Montreal's a brutal place in that way. A decent boost from Hemsky would be nice, too. Add in the uncertainty and widespread changes defensively and this is a tough team to judge. If Carey Price can stay healthy, though, that is certainly one thing the team doesn't need to worry about.
Montreal Canadiens Schedule
Montreal plays six of their first eight games on the road, and 11 of the 12 games played in October are either against surefire playoff teams or strong playoff contenders. Nothing will come easy early on, so the team has no chance to ease into things.
Montreal Canadiens NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has Montreal at +2000 to win the Stanley Cup, which has them tied with Columbus and behind 11 other teams to win it all. That has them in the realm of solid playoff team but perhaps not a true contender. BetOnline has them tied with Toronto and Columbus at +1000 as co-fifth choices to win the Eastern Conference. They are the third choice to win the Atlantic Division like they did last year at +400, behind favored Tampa Bay and Toronto. The season win total sits at 44, with the "over" solidly favored at this point. Last year they won 47 games.
2017-18 Montreal Canadiens Predictions
The win total feels about right. The team has gone through a lot of changes, and I'm not convinced it has helped improve their real areas of need, but if they can find chemistry early it should turn out fairly well for them. The -130 price on the over robs it of value, though, so there are better plays to be found elsewhere on the board.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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