We are in the dog days of summer, and there is little to report in the way of news, trades, & signings. So now that 98% of the pieces have fallen into place for the upcoming campaign, we can look at each club's additions & subtractions and assess what can be expected of them. Most teams are competing for the Stanley Cup, others are at one point or another of a rebuild, retool, or a straight up tank job. With 32 teams to get to, we're going to start with the Atlantic Division. Next up, the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs aren't anywhere close to a Stanley Cup contender, despite having been a finalist just two short years ago. Under new GM Kent Hughes & President Jeff Gorton the team is midway through a full rebuild. So far it is paying off.
Just this summer the Canadiens drafted Juraj Slafkovsky first overall, traded for Kirby Dach, Evgenii Dadonov & Mike Matheson, and they moved on from Jeff Petry. Even so, in light of these transactions the Habs will likely be a bottom-ten team, rendering them eligible for the Connor Bedard/Matvei Michkov sweepstakes.
There is no beating around it, the Montreal Canadiens were the worst team in the NHL last season. With serious injuries to Shea Weber, Carey Price, Jonathan Drouin, and Brendan Gallagher, they just couldn't replenish the ranks adequately.
Price was obviously the biggest loss. Jake Allen & Sam Montembault struggled behind a mediocre team, so it is hard to pin the Habs' issues on them. But Carey Price & his abilities are legendary, and without him alone the team is without its best player. Then factor in Shea Weber and the like, and the team just isn't built to contend in its current state.
To give credit where it is due, however, GM Kent Hughes went out & added a few pieces that will benefit his team in both the short & long-terms. And likely finishing in the bottom-10 again, they will add another top prospect to an already deep system. According to Hockey Prospecting's Byron Bader, the Canadiens have the 8th ranked prospect skater group & the 17th ranked goaltending group:
(This thread is high-quality, I recommend)
Montreal will miss the playoffs by a wide margin, landing themselves another top pick. No shame in it, it is what it is. The absolute worst thing they can do is rush this rebuild & forsake all of the good work they have done so far. But we will 100% see Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, and maybe even Juraj Slafkovsky on the highlight reel, which is reason enough to tune in.