Dating back to a time when Michel Therrien was the head coach of Montreal, Carey Price questioned what the identity of the Canadiens was. Now that the trade deadline has passed, Montreal didn’t address their scoring woes, but they definitely added some size, which will make the Habs harder to play against.
Montreal Canadiens Acquire An Identity
Including the Jordie Benn deal on Monday, all five players coming to the team are six foot or taller. Even if they did not address the scoring issues, the Habs got their team ready for the playoffs by adding size and grit. These acquisitions aren’t just big bodies, they bring a certain element that can be very useful in Montreal’s line up.
Certainly the player most fans are excited about is Dwight King. The two time Stanley Cup winner brings an element of toughness. Being 6’4″ and 230 pounds King is an intimidating presence on the ice and is an aggressive forechecker. What King may not be recognized for is his penalty killing capability. King was the second most used forward on the penalty kill for Los Angeles this year. He will fit nicely in a penalty kill role that is improving under Claude Julien. The Saskatchewan native was an important part in Los Angeles’ Stanley Cup runs, totalling 69 career playoff games with them. The Canadiens will expect that King can bring his playoff experience and gritty play for this year’s playoff push.
Habs fans got a little taste of Jordie Benn already. Benn logged just over 15 minutes in Tuesday’s overtime win against the Blue Jackets. Like King, Benn is effective on the penalty kill and was slotted beside Shea Weber on the first pairing. The 29-year-old established himself as a regular NHLer, playing top four minutes in Dallas this season. He has been quoted as saying he is excited to make a name for himself, instead of being Jamie Benn‘s brother in Dallas. A determined and confident Benn will only translate well on the ice and the Canadiens will benefit most from it. Benn has only two goals and 15 points this season, but does not need to put points on the board to be a useful NHL defenceman.
The 14-year-veteran had a hard time finding the ice in Detroit this year. Steve Ott appeared in 42 games this season registering three goals and six points. The Habs like Michael McCarron as the fourth line centre, but Ott is versatile and can play the wing. At 34-years-old, he still plays a gritty game. Most of his career he was an agitator which made other teams hate playing against him. One of Ott’s strengths is in the face-off dot, sporting a 58% rating in that category this year. Like the other acquisitions above, Ott can be useful on the penalty kill. He won’t play every game for the Habs, but when he does, he can be effective on the fourth line.
Is it safe to say this is Jeff Petry 2.0? Edmonton giving up on a young defenceman, and Montreal swooping in to take them off the Oilers hands. After a bout with cancer in his first professional season, Brandon Davidson came back and showed some promise. In 2014-2015, Davidson was on the top pairing in Oklahoma City (Edmonton’s AHL affiliate) and arguably the best player during their playoff run. He worked his way into Edmonton’s top four last year, before he was injured. Davidson will come into Montreal with a log jam at the position, so an immediate impact is less likely. However, Davidson is a nice piece moving forward as a young defenceman, who like Petry, is defensively reliable and smart with the puck.
Following the theme of the deadline Montreal added size. Andreas Martinsen is 6’3″ and weighs in at 220 pounds. He was flipped for 5’10”, 188 pound Sven Andrighetto, who was given the shot to be in a top six role, but was out played by Artturi Lehkonen. Martinsen better fits the bottom six role Andrighetto was currently occupying. In 55 games played Martinsen has already racked up 146 hits, which is something the Habs needed to address heading into the playoffs where that style of game is showcased. Coming into Montreal he will have the opportunity to compete for a bottom six role.
Montreal still needs some scoring, with only four players scoring for the team in the month of February. Without the acquisition of a goal scorer, Alex Galchenyuk will be relied upon to continue his recent surge. Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec will need to step up and contribute offensively as well. One name in particular that can be a sneaky addition for Montreal’s offence is Charles Hudon. With smaller players like David Desharnais and Andrighetto out of the picture, Montreal can afford to bring up a small Hudon to jump start the offence. Hudon has 36 points in 36 games played in the AHL this season, and is known for his offence, collecting 141 points in 175 games over his three year career in the AHL. At this time, Hudon is the best internal option to help Montreal’s offensive woes.