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After a crushing defeat to their biggest arch rival to end their season in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the summer months haven't exactly been all that kind to the Montreal Canadiens either.
The Habs have been rather heavily gutted by free agency, losing a large portion of their talented core to other squads. Combine that with the fact that they are closing in quickly on the salary cap with some free agents still left to re-sign, and you've got a team that's looking like it might come crashing down this season.
As previously stated, summer was not all that kind to the Canadiens.
For starters, they were forced to say goodbye to proven veterans Jeff Halpern and Roman Hamrlik, who both left for the Washington Capitals. Both these losses alone will deeply hurt the Habs as they were key pieces of the team's veteran leadership as well as talent on the ice.
But the losses continued in the depth ranks, as defensemen Alexandre Picard and Matt Carle as well as forwards Tom Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot all left for different teams.
To compensate, the Canadiens brought in defenseman Jeff Woywitka from the Dallas Stars to help shore up the blue line, and most notably found a new backup for Carey Price in Peter Budaj, who could be a good pickup after never really finding a home with the Colorado Avalanche.
And to strengthen their forwards, the Canadiens acquired Erik Cole from the Carolina Hurricanes to attempt to replace the departed Halpern.
The Canadiens may have lost possibly their best defenseman in Hamrlik, and that could put this in jeopardy, but I believe the Habs are the strongest in goal with All-Star Carey Price manning the net.
After nearly carrying the Canadiens to the playoffs almost single-handedly, I found it an absolute shame he wasn't given the honor of being a finalist for the Vezina Trophy (even though he would have eventually lost it to Tim Thomas anyway).
And with a solid backup secured in Peter Budaj, the Habs can afford to give him a few more nights off next season, meaning he should be more fresh come the end-of-season stretch run and possible playoffs.
The biggest weakness for the Habs has got to be their depth, and particularly their depth on defense. While their first-choice players make a pretty strong squad, everybody knows an NHL team can't stay healthy for an entire season and that makes the Canadiens a little vulnerable.
Most importantly, however, is their depth on defense. It's safe to say Jeff Woywitka will probably see some time with the big club this season if any of their top six players go down injured, and that could signal trouble for the Habs, who really have a pretty empty closet when it comes to their defensemen waiting in the wings.
Easily the deal breaker for the Canadiens is going to be their special teams. The Habs finished seventh-best in the league in both power play and penalty kill last season, which was huge when it came to the team holding off opponents and securing their way into the playoffs.
If they want to continue that success they're going to have to maintain that excellence in both man-up and man-down situations, particularly because they were short-handed more times than any other team in the NHL last season (a whopping 327 times).
If Montreal wants to make a return to the playoffs, they're going to have to really fight for it as they've lost some of their key players.
As a result, I think they could fall short, particularly if they struggle with injuries early on.
They will likely be one of the bubble teams fighting for their playoff lives into the last couple weeks of the season, battling with teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes for what might be one final spot. And if that's the case, their thin blue line might come to cost them unless Carey Price can have another stellar year and stand on his head night after night.
Ultimately I expect the Habs to struggle, and don't be shocked if they're sitting below eighth place when the season comes to a close.