Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Montreal Canadiens
For the last 14 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
This year, due to Dobber’s battle with cancer, he recruited Cam Robinson (of Frozen Pool Forensics fame) to pinch hit. The 15th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Never let anyone tell you that Marc Bergevin is afraid to ruffle some feathers. For the second offseason in a row, the Habs GM made a major splash via the trade route. His acquiring of Quebec-native, Drouin brings the team a much needed, youthful offensive player – especially with Alexander Radulov signing in Dallas. The cost of their very best defensive prospect surely wasn’t easy to swallow for a team that lacks depth in that department already – again, especially with Beaulieu being strangely shipped out for a third-round pick. The team has clearly set its course on winning now and Drouin provides more immediate value than Sergachev does. Long-time, top four defender, Markov heads home to KHL and is replaced by a lesser version of himself in Streit. David Schlemko is an underrated performer and should bolster the bottom pairing, while the big free agent acquisition of Alzner brings a player capable of playing 20 minutes a night - whether that role is best suited for his skill set remains to be seen.
Ready for full-time – Michael McCarron looked strong in his half season with the AHL affiliate in St John’s, recording seven goals and 19 points in 32 games playing a heavy, two-way game. He saw 31 contests with the big club in primarily a depth role, seeing just 9:53 a night while chipping in with a goal and four helpers. The massive centre and former first round selection will come to camp with an eye trained on a full-time fourth line pivot gig. Read more on McCarron here.
The Habs’ most dynamic forward prospect, 2014 26th overall pick, Nikita Scherbak progressed nicely in his second professional season, recording 13 goals and 48 points in 66 AHL contests – good for third on the team. Prone to stretches of inefficiency and living on the perimeter, the Russian winger needs to prove he can battle on a nightly basis to earn a spot with the club. Read more on Scherbak here.
Charles Hudon has done everything the Canadiens have asked of him in the minor leagues. He’s amassed 159 points in 198 career AHL games spread over the last three seasons. However, he’s only earned three NHL games in each of those last two years. It was clear former coach, Michel Therrien wasn’t his biggest fan, so with Claude Julien now at the helm this could be the year he breaks camp with the club. He signed a very cost-effective two-year, two-way deal this offseason and would be a cheap option to bring offense from the team’s bottom six wing. Read more on Hudon here.
Fantasy Outlook – Carey Price still holds the moniker of the best goaltender on the planet. The team in front of him isn’t as elite as some of the other prime net minder assets but if you own Price, you’ve got a chance to win. Max Pacioretty remains an underrated and wildly consistent producer and shall remain the team’s top left-wing option despite the presence of Drouin. Brendan Gallagher is due for a nice bounce back so long as his health remains. He’s looked ready for a 30-goal campaign for some time and 2017-18 could be his year. Speaking of 30 goals, don’t be surprised if Arturri Lehkonen makes a run at it himself. The sophomore winger is a volume shooter with a deceptive release. He’s a sleeper to keep an eye on.
While Drouin signed for big money upon being dealt and has the weight of a ‘hometown hero’, he’s yet to produce consistent results at five-on-five and is shifting to a position with far less surrounding talent than his previous stop. Expectations should be tempered. The question still remains if Alex Galchenyuk can become the team’s top pivot, but he should be given the reins without pause this season as there really isn’t any other option. Shea Weber will continue to be a safe bet for nearly 20 goals and 50 points but the offense on the back end dries up after that; unless you feel like putting faith in 39-year-old Streit.
Fantasy Grade: B (Last year: B-)
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