Another year has ended prematurely for the Montreal Canadiens.
Although many of the players are headed for the links, the work is far from over.
General Manager Pierre Gauthier has a lot on his plate this summer.
Most of the defense corps is unsigned for next season. He also needs to decide what to do with a couple of underachieving forwards and whether or not to substitute some aging veterans with younger players.
After his review of the team, Gauthier will inevitably shed some assets in order to acquire new ones or simply free up cap space.
The following is five players who won't be in the plans for next season.
Despite all the injuries to the defense corps, Alexandre Picard hasn't played since March 22nd.
That tells you all you need to know about what Jacques Martin thinks of him.
It's not that Picard is a horrible player. He just simply doesn't add anything to the team.
He isn't particularly physical. He doesn't skate that well and doesn't have a great first pass. He has a weak shot and an average hockey sense.
With the call up of Yannick Weber, the team basically came to the realization that they prefer to carry players that actually have a particular skill set.
Because of his inability to have any real impact on the team, Picard will have to find a new home next fall.
Benoit Pouliot can't be back with this team next year.
After a brutal playoff in 2010, Benoit Pouliot was rewarded with a raise upon the expiration of his entry level contract. He then went on to give the Habs a 13-goal, 17-assist performance. He was then, for the second year in a row, brutal in the playoffs. He was benched after Game 3 and never seen again.
He took bonehead penalties all year and failed to produce consistently despite numerous opportunities on the team's top lines.
He's a poor defensive player who was outshone offensively by a natural defenseman in Yannick Weber.
Pouliot serves no purpose on this team but to aggravate the fans. I'm fairly certain that after his performance in this year's post season, the organization has given up on waiting for his potential to finally materialize.
Sadly, the Montreal Canadiens will be letting the best beard in the NHL walk this summer.
Mara was acquired for one purpose, the temporary replacement of Jaroslav Spacek.
Surprisingly, Mara actually played pretty well for the Habs.
In 20 games with the team, he was a plus-two, had 27 hits and 36 blocked shots. He was averaging over 15 minutes a night and was providing the nasty edge this team was desperate for.
Despite his rather strong performance, however, Mara won't be retained by the club. There simply isn't room.
With Markov and Gorges coming back, and the anticipated attempt to sign James Wisniewski, Hal Gill and or Roman Hamrlik, Mara will likely be the odd man out.
Add to this the fact that Jacques Martin was reluctant to use him in the playoffs, it seems like Mara isn't in the organization's future plans.
Notice how Sopel's being beaten to the outside in this picture? Well, that happened quite a bit in his time with the Canadiens.
The Habs gave up on Ben Maxwell for this guy, and to this day, I can't understand why.
I understand that with the injury to Josh Gorges, the organization believed it would be prudent to acquire a shot blocking defenseman. The fact that he has Stanley Cup winning experience also likely made him more attractive.
If you look at the situation more closely however, you may come to the conclusion that it was a useless acquisition.
Firstly, the team had already acquired Paul Mara. Mara was slightly quicker, played with a physical edge, and was more comfortable with the puck on his stick. Prior to the arrival of Sopel, Mara was playing regularly and quite well to boot.
Secondly, Sopel is not an adequate replacement for Josh Gorges. The reason Gorges worked so well with Gill the year before was that they complemented each other. Gorges' skating ability made up for Gill's lack of mobility.
With Gill playing next to Subban this year, however, Sopel was forced to play with Jaroslav Spacek, who is also lacking in mobility. The pairing was doomed to fail from the start.
Finally, how much Stanley Cup experience did he really have with Chicago last year? Keith and Seabrook were playing nearly 30 minutes a night. Campbell and Hjalmarsson were playing well over 20 minutes. How much ice time did that leave for Sopel, and how effective could he really have been?
Sopel is slow footed, has a poor first pass and isn't overtly physical.
Josh Gorges will likely be resigned by the team, allowing Gauthier to let Sopel walk this summer.
According to Hockey30, Jeff Halpern won't be offered a new contract for the 2011/2012 season.
This one is slightly more perplexing.
I understand that the team is committed to its younger crop of centers. Desharnais and Eller will be given the opportunity to develop with more significant ice-time.
The problem with this move is that it leaves the team without a reliable face-off man. The Habs first-round loss to the Bruins was evidence of this.
Thomas Plekanec won 43.3 percent of his draws. Lars Eller won 43.1 percent. Scott Gomez was even worse at 40.1 percent. The only centerman on the team whose faceoff percentage was over 50 was Jeff Halpern.
He won 73.2 percent of his faceoffs.
With this move, the Habs are losing their only defense first center, a key penalty killer and their best face-off man.
The whole situation reminds me of Dominic Moore all over again.