Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

Habs begin offseason tweaks

It started with Andrei Markov's new contract on Monday, and it continues tomorrow night in Philadlphia, as the Habs get set to pick 26th overall at the NHL draft. Trevor Timmins has shown a penchant for drafting unexpected players, so there is no way of knowing who the Canadiens may be targeting, but I wouldn't mind seeing Brendan Lemieux, Ryan MacInnis, Ivan Barbashev or Josh Ho-Sang in le tricolore once the evening is over. Some pundits have the Canadiens looking to trade up, so perhaps the stakes will change, but as of now, they are at the behest of 25 other clubs as they wait to see who is still available. MacInnis and Lemieux would give them some size up front, not to mention some decent NHL bloodlines, Barbashev some prime skill and speed, while Ho-Sang would offer talent that many say is among the highest in the draft. 

Otherwise, look for the Canadiens to try and beef up their forward core with a top six winger on July 1, be it Tomas Vanek redux, a Jarome Iginla short term deal, or through a trade. The Habs are also keen to add a top four defenceman, and some whispers have them talking to the Panthers in that regard, who have a glut of large defencemen. It seems reasonable to suggest new Panthers coach Gerrard Gallant may have asked his GM to nab a couple of Habs he is fin of. That said, every draft week every year is the same song and dance: lots of smoke, not much fire. Perhaps this will be the year that bucks the trend?

As for me, I like the idea that the Habs might try and add some size and grit at the 26th pick, but if Ho-Sang is there I hope they grab him. Raw talent of his regard is rare, and something the Canadiens would be blessed to work with. I also wouldn't shy away from Vanek, despite his playoff results. The Canadiens simply need a top six forward. Is there anyone better out there? As a fallback, I would look West and see if Mike Cammalleri might be willing to come back. But his addition would require more size elsewhere, and the surefire departure of a Brian Gionta, which may not be a bad move anyhow. Gionta has lost a step, and now would be a good time to pass the captaincy on to a younger leader.

On the back end, another player I might target is Alex Edler. Vancouver is rebuilding, and he seemed to be out of favour late last year. Could he perhaps be available? The re-signing of Mike Weaver would also be a good depth move, but as of now he appears likely to be heading elsewhere.

The Canadiens are also on the lookout for a new assistant coach to replace Gerrard Gallant, something else to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. Would Guy Carbonneau be interested in joining Michel Therrien's staff, and would Therrien be interested in his services? Carbonneau could offer help with the Canadiens sputtering special teams, given his past success in that area. 

Draft Friday, free agency Tuesday. An exciting week to be a hockey fan. What does it hold for the Habs? We'll know soon enough.

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com