2018 Montreal Canadiens Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
Growing up as a Canadian hockey fan, I hated the Montreal Canadiens because they were better than us (my hometown team is the Calgary Flames). They were a proud franchise that used tradition as fuel, and they were always dangerous. They played in a holy temple, they revered their past heroes, and they won. A lot.
But now I mostly pity them.
The last few years have seen more bad decisions made by management than most franchises have to endure over decades. They seem determined to drive this team right into the ground. Most disturbingly, they don't really seem to have a plan to change the path they are on - or even the recognition that they are on the wrong path. The league is much better when the Habs are a top team - just like baseball is improved when the Yankees are strong even though everyone hates them, and football is better when the Cowboys aren't embarrassingly stupid. But don't hold your breath - this is going to be a bad, bad team.
Montreal Canadiens Offseason Moves
We have to start with the most recent move. After stretching it out far too long, the team finally traded away captain Max Pacioretty. The five-time 30-goal scorer now plays for Vegas. In return they received a lot of unrealized potential in Tomas Tatar, a nice prospect in Nick Suzuki, and a second-round pick. Not a bad haul, but not one that will fix the problems of the team, either. Pacioretty struggled last year and then was injured, and the team struggled mightily. Those two things are related.
Stepping into the top-line winger spot vacated by Pacioretty will likely be Max Domi, who was acquired in a trade with Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk. Both young players desperately needed a change of scenery, so the move should be positive. But Domi has not yet shown that he is a legitimate top-line player.
Aside from those moves, the team was active but mostly just in shuffling role players. Maybe the most interesting addition was Tomas Plekanec, who the team traded to Toronto at the trade deadline last year in his 13th season with the Habs. They have him back now, along with the second-round pick and other pieces they got for him.
Being so bad last year allowed them to pick third overall in the draft, and
they landed a good one in Finnish forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. He's a
center, and this is a franchise that hasn't had a No. 1 center in far too
long. He will likely be given a few games with the big team to start the
season, but if I was betting I would guess he will wind up back in Finland
for a second pro season over there and more seasoning before hopefully
cracking the NHL full time next year.
Montreal Canadiens NHL Outlook
It's bleak. So bleak. Their No. 1 line isn't a No. 1 line for probably 25 teams in the league. Their depth is far from great. The defense is a mess at the best of times, but Shea Weber - the player who most represents the dawn of this horrible era in Montreal history through no fault of his own, and the trade of him for P.K. Subban was an utter mess in every way - is out until at least December after missing a lot of time last year, so they are going to be even worse than their best. Carey Price is the best goalie on the planet when at this best, and he is paid like it, but he was just plain lousy last year and needs to be so much better - despite playing behind a lousy defense and not getting consistent goal support. I could go on, but you get the point - this is a bad team in a division that is very tough on the top end.
Montreal Canadiens Schedule
At Toronto, at Pittsburgh, L.A., Pittsburgh. That is the absolutely brutal four-game stretch the Habs open with. It feels close to a lock that they will lose all four. Talk about a demoralizing way for a likely fragile team to come out of the gate.
Montreal Canadiens NHL Futures Odds
Montreal is at +10000 to win the Stanley Cup at Bovada . That ties them with a handful of really lousy teams and ahead of only three real duds - Vancouver, Ottawa and Detroit. Oddsmakers expect a significant improvement from the 71-point season last year - the season point total is set at 79.5.
2018-19 Montreal Canadiens Predictions
Taking the "under" here is one of the easiest plays on the entire board this year. They aren't better than they were last year. They may improve a little just through sheer luck, but nine more points is a whole lot to ask. This is going to be a mess of a season, and the only hope is clearing out the front office and starting from scratch with someone competent. Thank goodness I am not a Habs fan.
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