Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
Lars Eller turned quite a few heads in 2010-2011
Remember Jaroslav Halak? Remember how he was traded for some no-namer named Lars Eller? It seems that the Canadiens may have actually got the better end of that deal. Halak had a mediocre season in St. Louis with flashes of brilliance, as did Eller in Montreal. At age 22, this former first-rounder has given us a glimpse of what he has to offer: soft hands, a strong frame, smart hockey, and dependable defensive hockey. He can be counted on to guard against players like Ovechkin and Bergeron, and he is just finding his game. Eller should develop into a dependable two-way player capable of logging lots of minutes.
David Desharnais, at 5'7" and 170 lbs., seems like a typical Habs' mistake. If you are not Marty St. Louis or Theoren Fleury, there is no hope, right? Well Desharnais doesn't seem to think so. Though one of the smallest players in the league, he showed why he is bigger than he looks, squaring off against Chara in numerous physical battles without looking out of place. in 43 games played, he netted 8 goals and 22 points as a rookie. Desharnais will likely play on the third line with Eller and Kostitsyn this year. Look for him to be a 20 goal scorer over the next couple of seasons.
Ryan White will be a career depth player. He will never score 20 goals, won't see any significant time on the powerplay, and won't be expected to contribute much offensively. He is there to crash, bang, hit, fight, and energize the team. He was one of the NHL leaders in hits per minute, and our only player willing to drop the gloves on any given night. He is no Bob Probert, but he brings a physical game that we failed to get from an ageing Georges Laraque. Along with Eric Cole and Max Pacioretty, he gives a third option to send in an bang around the net. He can be counted on to provide some spark and help us face off against teams that want to push us around.
Finally, Alexei Yemelin will finally don the Habs uniform. Expectations for him are mixed, and debates continue over whether or not he is "NHL-ready". What we do know is that he is an offensively-sound, hard-hitting defenceman. We also know that he is good enough to dictate a clause that will allow him to head back to Russia if he doesn't get the playing time he thinks he deserves. Yemelin will provide additional offence from the back-end, where the likes of Hamrlik, Sopel and Mara are gone, and Markov, Subban, Yemelin and Weber will lead a new offensively sound D-corps.