Habs Quick Hits: Gionta for Captain, Palushaj Makes a Push and More

Kamal PanesarCorrespondent ISeptember 16, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 24:  Brian Gionta #21 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wachovia Center on May 24, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Reprint from HabsAddict.com

Montreal, QC—With the 2011 NHL season drawing ever nearer, it seems that new storylines are springing up every day.

And not a moment too soon either!

While we were crushed by the boring free agent offseason and the dreaded dog days of summer, it seems that the boredom is now lifting as we are tantalizingly close to being back into the full swing of hockey.

So, in that spirit, here is a bit of a round-up of what is going on with the Montreal Canadiens right now. 

UPDATE - Sept. 16, 2010 - 10:35am

RDS's Renaud Lavoie is reporting that Roman Hamrlik injured his knee and will miss the beginning of training camp (out 2 - 3 weeks). 


The Rookies are pumped

The Canadiens opened their annual rookie training camp this past Monday, and the players are doing their best to impress.

Players like P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty have come to camp with additional muscle on their frames, and are eying roster spots on the big club.

While Subban seems all but a lock to make it with the Habs this year, Pacioretty's situation is a little more clouded.


Hampered by late season injury last year, Pacioretty never really hit his stride in Hamilton.

This year, while he is clearly looking to steal a roster spot out of camp, chances are that he will start the season in Hamilton. With a logjam of players throughout the top-three lines for the Habs, Pacioretty will be hard-pressed to make room for himself.

There is always the possibility that he could dethrone either Benoit Pouliot—who also put on 12 pounds of muscle over the summer—or Andrei Kostitsyn, but I don't believe that will happen out of camp.

In all likelihood, Jacques Martin will start the season with Pouliot and AK46 as part of his top-six forward group. If, however, either or both of them are not up to the challenge, a strong camp by Pacioretty could put him in line to take one of those two spots. 


Fisticuffs at Camp

As you may have heard by now, Subban and young Ben Maxwell got into a tussle during a scrimmage yesterday. While some will make a big deal about this, I'm here to tell you that it means nothing.

Maxwell's squad was on the losing end of a 7-1 drubbing, and he was displaying the intensity that he needs if he wants any chance of making the big club.


The way it looks right now, and with Maxim Lapierre, Jeff Halpern, and Lars Eller all ahead of Maxwell in the depth charts, this looks like his last chance.

Moreover, and barring a miraculously strong camp, Maxwell looks like he will be left on the outside looking in and could possibly become trade bait later in the season. 


Aaron Palushaj is looking strong

Scoring four goals in yesterday's inter-squad scrimmage, Palushaj looks to try and deliver on the promise that he once demonstrated in the St. Louis system.

Palushaj was considered—as recently as 18 months ago—to be one of the top prospects in a deep St. Louis Blues system. The fact that he was traded for Matt D'Agostini last season shows that he had fallen out of favour in St. Louis.

But keep in mind that Palushaj was second round pick, 44th overall, in the 2007 NHL draft so he has he ability to be an effective top-six player.

Whether he can turn things around in Montreal remains to be seen but a year or so in Hamilton should help show what he is truly made of. 



Brian Gionta is your new captain

According to published reports in La Presse, Brian Gionta is the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens.

While neither Gionta nor the Habs have confirmed nor denied the story, all signs point to the fact that this is a fait accompli, and that he will be officially named captain before training camp starts.

With the players hitting the links today for their annual pre-training camp golf tournament, Gionta is sure to be swarmed by the media. But, if there is one thing we learned during last year's playoff run, it is that Gio does not get intimidated by the media and is adept at remaining tight-lipped.

As for Gionta as the Habs captain, I personally feel that he is the best choice among a sea of good choices.

He is calm, cool and collected with the media off of the ice, and is a fiery competitor on it.

He has a Stanley Cup ring and cut his teeth in the perennial winning system that is the New Jersey Devils. Not to mention that Gionta never takes a shift off, works harder than anyone on the ice, is well respected by his peers and the media, and brings a winners attitude to the team.

If he is the standard that all others must hold themselves to, then the Canadiens organization is headed in the right direction.



That's all for now but the storylines will continues to unfold as rookie camp wraps up and the pro camp starts up on the weekend.

In the meantime, what do you think unofficial appointment of Gionta as captain? Is he the right man for the job?

Also, where do you think Pacioretty fits in the Habs lineup? Will he make the team out of camp, or is half to a full season in the AHL just what the doctor ordered.

What about Maxwell? Will he still be part of the Canadiens organization come the end of the season?


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