November 31-in-31: Montreal Canadiens

Pablo Ruiz

2020-11-16

The 31-in-31 Summer Series is an annual event here at DobberProspects! Every day in November we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft and insights into their off-season movements thus far. Following this up, the December 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check back often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs until the season begins!

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If it weren’t for the COVID shortened season and a 24-team bubble, the Canadiens would have missed the playoffs for a third-straight year, despite strong underlying numbers. The bubble gave them a unique opportunity to make the playoffs by upsetting the Pittsburg Penguins in their play-in series. They gave the Flyers all they could handle in their first-round matchup but ended up falling short in six games. Despite this upset, the Canadiens fans were left with optimism after watching the team’s younger players lead the charge in the Habs’ post-season success. Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were difference makers and proved that the Canadiens could be closer to being a contender than some would have thought before the bubble.

The Canadiens’ success in the bubble gave Marc Bergevin a positive reason to be aggressive in an offseason in which most teams were forced to be passive due to financial uncertainty and a flat cap. The team began by poaching some role players for a reduced price from cap-strapped teams. They traded a third and seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft to stabilize their backup position with Jake Allen, who was fourth in save percentage last year. His addition to the team will reduce Price’s workload and let him play at the top of his game without being overworked. Bergevin later locked Allen up for two more years after this season, a move that will provide some security to Cayden Primeau, so that he is not rushed to the NHL without being ready. This will also give the Canadiens a goalie to expose in the upcoming expansion draft.

For years, the Canadiens have been deemed “too small” or “not hard enough to play against”, but Joel Edmundson is neither of those things. The big defender was the odd man out in Carolina, and Montreal did not hesitate to trade a fifth-round pick for his negotiating rights. Within the same week, the Canadians locked him up for four years at a 3.5 million average.

Next, the team acquired Josh Anderson, another challenging, big physical player. It was the biggest trade of their offseason, as the Canadiens sent Max Domi and a third-round pick to Columbus, in exchange for Anderson. Domi became the odd man out in Montreal with the emergence of Suzuki and Kotkaniemi, while Anderson could be the exact type of player that Montreal has been missing for years. He is a big bruising power-forward that can skate. He does not come without risk though; last year he only played 26 games, due to a shoulder injury, and in those games, only managed four points. Montreal believes that he is the player that scored 27 goals and 47 points two years ago, and that is why they signed him for seven years at a 5.5 million average.

Leading up to the draft, Bergevin and his staff continued to be proactive by resigning next year’s UF