When star goaltender Carey Price went down, so did the Montreal Canadiens season. Marc Dumont from Eyes on the Prize stops by to give us the skinny on Les Habitants entering the 2016-17 campaign.
What are your thoughts on the Habs' performance during 2015-16 in a tidy nutshell?
It was a perfect storm. Injuries to key players, a terrible shooting percentage which led to a brutal PDO, a lack of strategy adjustments, and some bad play towards the end of the year. It wasn't as bad as it seemed on the surface, but it was indeed quite an eye opener for those that still believed the Habs are "more than just Carey Price".
What was the team's best offseason move thus far?
Radulov was a smart signing. In my opinion he was arguably the best UFA available. Of course, most UFAs said they were not interested in playing for Therrien, so you also have to acknowledge he was the only impact player willing to sign with the team. He also received very few offers, so it was a perfect fit. He's intense, always produces, and from what I've heard he's matured a lot since his days in the NHL.
What departure will hurt the Canadiens the most?
P.K. Subban, no doubt. He drive the vast majority of the offense, he was fantastic defensively, and he was one of the rare players that made watching the Habs last season enjoyable. That's not to say that Weber is a bad player, but he's certainly no Subban. They're vastly different when it comes to playing style, which means the Canadiens will need to find a blue liner that can drive the offense from the back end. It might be up to Beaulieu to fill that massive void.
What prospect is most likely to crack the lineup and make an impact?
Artturi Lehkonen is the most interesting prospect heading into camp. He has all the talent to play in the top six, and the Habs currently lack skill on the wings, which means the door is wide open for the young Finn.
Realistically, what would constitute a successful 2016-17 campaign?
Realistically, the Canadiens just traded the face of their franchise for a defender that was more or less hand picked for the coach. Which means they also narrowed the Stanley Cup window to roughly 2-3 years. The Canadiens -have- to make noise in the playoffs for it to be considered a good season. One playoff round win might not be enough to placate the frustrated fans.