[EHM 2018-09-21] Off Season 2018 Retrospective

It's a new season for Kersus' EHM Montreal Canadiens. Some things look the same and others look different.

Price still sits as the undisputed goalie however everything after him is very much disputed.

This is Kersus third year at the helm. His first year was a disaster and he attempted a huge rebuild while losing a battle out of the basement. With some maneuvering at the draft he was able to snag Nico Hischier. Some good Free Agency acquisitions saw the Habs shock everyone to top the league and win the Cup in his second year. Now expectations are high for a repeat.
The Cup winning lineup was as follows:

Fucale (sometimes McNiven in the playoffs)
Scratches - Marleau, Kozun, Lehkonen (all switched in and out with the third or fourth line) however Dawes only came in during the playoffs as that was when his previous contract ended.

While the defense remained basically the same people, Weber was the only player to consistently play the same spot. All five other defensemen moved around him. Daley was a bit of a disappointment (brought in mid-January in exchange for Condon and Benn who went to the Penguins) but still played well. Alzner was a steadying influence if nothing spectacular. Davidson filled a hole well on the second line but was outplayed by another as time wore on. Taormina periodically performed like a star and other times like he belonged in the AHL but overall exceeded expectations. Klein as well exceeded expectations; starting in the AHL he came up later in the season to not only claim a spot on the pro roster (from Jerabek) but to cement himself as a second behind Weber despite Kersus positioning him as an extra. This caused a rift between Klein and Kersus where at the end of the season, Klein was willing to remain unsigned instead of even talk with Kersus about a new contract.

As for forwards, Shipachyov started as RW on the top line and ended up centering the 3rd or 4th line. This may sound like a demotion for Ship however he struggled to Centre his own line all season and only in the end and during the playoffs did he show he could fill a needed Centre position while Gallagher went from 4th line to 1st; finally gelling with Pacioretty again as no one else really could. Drouin was a disappointment all season and even winning the Cup he was a fringe player. Thornton was a key player and helped Rychel step up his game and even reclaimed Dadanov as a premiere player. While Weber wore the C, Thornton was sensational.

Lehkonen continued to improve despite often having his minutes limited. Marleau may have brought some leadership to the dressing room however he never found a place that fit on the ice - performing poorly all season. To some degree that was also Galchenyuk's problem. Not that he had any leadership but he couldn't gel with the other players and floundered from position to position. Michael Raffl was a late claim off waivers who took over for poor Teddy Purcell. Purcell was a solid reserve forward however when Raffl became available there was no longer any space for Purcell who didn't get claimed off waivers and didn't even get play-time on the farm. There were a lot of sad feelings about that situation however Raffl was a good pickup and able to perform better than Purcell. Kozun was a solid fourth liner who played the bulk of the games during the season. Byron may have played the final game where the Habs won the cup but he spent most of the season with the Brampton Beast and then the St. John's IceCaps in the playoffs.

Price did okay and Fucale was admirable as a young backup. Poulin, McNiven, Lindgren and MacIntyre all played between the AHL and ECHL. Other temporary goalies like Kuhn and Caron came in when injuries occurred. Poulin was admirable and solid, McNiven probably played a little above himself because of the good players around him however his own abilities seem stunted. Lindgren showed that he has the talent however he would get tired, injured and make poor decisions later in a game. MacIntyre played the season with the Beast (ECHL) on a tryout contract and impressed all observers despite getting few games behind McNiven. He was offered ridiculous amounts of money to have a shot with the Habs but perhaps the offers came too late and he went to Switzerland.

The Habs AHL affiliate lost the league finals in game seven to the Checkers and Nikolai Goldobin was the fan-favourite player.

In the ECHL the Brampton Beast absolutely dominated the Alaska Aces to win the Kelly Cup. Chase Nieuwendyk, a try-out player, was the fan-favourite; Baker was the defenseman of the year and held the +/- record; Addison won the sportsmanship award and all-star MVP; Boni as coach of the year (two years running); D'Agostini was the playoff MVP.

Max Pacioretty was the fan-favourite with the Habs and made the first all star team. Hischier and Lehkonen making the rookie all-star team with the former taking the Calder. Drouin ballet hopped to the Lady Byng and Bob Hartley, for good reason, won the Jack Adams. Price took the Conn Smythe with Shipachyov on his heels.

Ship started slow and took all season to find his way in the North American game, but once he did... Wow.

I don't think enough can be said on how Rychel flourished while playing with Big Joe Thornton and Flashy Dadanov. This line got better and better, taking an AHL player and making him into the star of many games. This isn't to take away from Rychel's potential however he's now an example of how to develop a player properly. This stands out with a franchise that's blown many prospects from poor development.

F Shumakov was traded to Detroit for D Ouellet.
The rights to G Skinner, 3rd and 5th picks to Philly for the rights to Cody Ceci.
Prospect C Mattila to Tampa for prospect C Suzuki.
F Pacioretty to Detroit along with a 7th pick 2023 for F Tatar, D Hickets, 1st and 2nd picks 2019.
F Raffl and F Friberg to Vancouver for D Cederholm.
D Ceci to Dallas for D Honka and 2nd pick 2019.
C Bradley to Capitals for C Kotkaniemi
C Galchenyuk to Phoenix for LW Domi
Prospect Staum with 5th and 6th picks to Blue Jackets for prospect Kindschi and 7th pick.
FA Signings: Reaves, Koivu, Green, Bereglazov, Haugen
Released: Davidson, Klein, Taormina, Daley, Fucale, Poulin, Greening, Redmond, Martinsen, Purcell, Marleau, Kozun, Hrabarenka