Montreal - The Montreal Canadiens is off to a great start in its 100 years celebration season.
The team is boasting a great 8-1-1 after 10 games. It is the only team showing only one loss since the beginning of the season. All this is very nice and looks great in your local news paper's NHL Standing page.
The question Gainey must reflect on is: Does the team has what it takes to go all the way and drink out of the big bowl?
Of course the Canadiens has great talent. The team has depth in pretty much all positions, something we haven't seen in years. The problem is that some players are either very young or some others have shown some flaws in their play. I am talking about Ryan O'Byrne, Patrice Brisebois, Steve Bégin and Mathieu Dandeneault. Lets take a look at them:
O'Byrne is a very good defense man... to be. Is it is now, unless he finds a nice deal at the flea market and buys himself 1 second and a pivot, he will not help the Canadiens. With Hamilton in the AHL he had great success but he has to adjust his play at the NHL's level. I agree he can distribute good checks but in the NHL you need more than that.
Patrice started his career in Montreal and was traded to Colorado in 2005 before returning to Montreal in 2007. When Brisebois came back, I was happy for him and I think his 2007-08 season was a good one for him. He helped a lot on and off the ice. This year, Patrice seems to be struggling a little. We all know he's got a bad back and is not getting any younger. The good thing about him is that he knows what his role is and will not complain if he is a healthy scratch for a few games. I think he wants to retire a Canadiens and he would deserve it.
Now this is a player I would be very sad to see leave the team. As soon as Steve's skates touch the ice, he goes to work. He makes 45-50 seconds shifts and he gives everything he's got. He is the type of player who probably will have a short career in the NHL due to a broken body. He takes and gives hard hits and after a few sesaons the body will start sending signals.
Dandeneaul is a veteran with a lot of experience. He played with the best in Detroit, winning the Stanley cup. Dandeneault's quality is that he's a versatile player. If the team loses a defense man during a game, Dandeneault can be used as d-man every 3 shifts. I don't see Dandeneault in Montreal passed Chrsitmas.
Montreal needs to add a 4th defenseman and a right handed center man. Gainey has a lot to offer to land one or two of these players. It all depends who Bob wants. There has been rumors about Gaborik in the passed few weeks. A Russian news paper stated that Ilya Kovalchuk may end up either in Montreal or Toronto. The paper stated that Kovalchuk's agent had talked to Fletcher and Gainey about his client. The main concern about bringing one of those two guys is chemistry. As it is now, the team seems to be united and bringing Gaborik or Kovalchuk could shake that unity. Also, Gainey must look to land another d-man to play with Hamrlik. Aside Mathieu Schneider, there's nothing much to look at in the NHL. Schneider is an old veteran who, I am sure, could help for this year's cup race.
Gainey has a few guys he can trade. I am thinking about Koivu (who could end up with his brother), Higgins, O'Byrne, Halak as well as draft picks and prospects.
Gainey must move and land an impact player and a solid defense man if he wants a shot at the cup for the centennial year.