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Brian Gionta (left) and Tomas Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal definitely had depth-scoring concerns last year. It certainly doesn’t help matters—when trying to find enough able bodies to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis—that its top three scorers constitute just “two-and-a-half men.”
If Cole, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty still comprise the team’s de facto top line (when, in all honesty, they would make for a really good second line on a playoff team), it begs the question: Just who will round out Montreal’s top six forwards?
Tomas Plekanec is a relative shoo-in, as he’s scored 50 or more points in four of the last five seasons. Captain Brian Gionta is another logical choice since his strength lies in going to the net, even if his small-in-stature nature and 31 games played last year might indicate he really shouldn’t.
In any case, that leaves a group of players vying for that last spot that would likely make for a more intriguing police lineup and Usual Suspects sequel than be able to competently complete a scoring line.
Rene Bourque, Scott Gomez and Brandon Prust are all arguably overpaid players that have scored over 10 goals at one point or another in their careers.
However, based on recent performances, they each still may have trouble convincing others of that fact, and in Gomez’s case, that he’s a former Eastern Coast Hockey League most valuable player, let alone capable of scoring 10 there.
Meanwhile, Lars Eller is an actually attractive option, a two-way forward with a pedigree, who just last year was able to pot four goals in one game, albeit against the defensively lax Winnipeg Jets.
And how about Travis Moen, a favorite of former head coach Jacques Martin, who, despite his lack of the appropriate skill set, filled in on one of the top two lines whenever, offensively, things weren’t going as they should?
Michel Therrien’s probable answer? Colby Armstrong: a player who should get more than a few looks on that second line if last year’s team-wide inability to score consistently is any indication of what will happen this season.
And then, there’s the wild card the Habs just may be itching to play against their better judgment…