The Montreal Canadiens center position 2017-2018 has some big questions. With 37 days to go till the puck drops on opening night, is the Canadiens’ pivot position solid enough to make a long post season push? With a top four of Alex Galchenyuk, Phillip Danault, Tomas Plekanec, and Torrey Mitchell from the outside, it does look like a number one center would greatly improve the Canadiens playoff hopes.
Looking at the Montreal Canadiens’ Center Position for 2017-18
At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Alex Galchenyuk is highly skilled with upside. Offensively, he has fantastic vision and creativity. A highly skilled passer that has equal skill in putting the puck to bed, on the scoring end he is a force to be reckoned with. Defensively, his play without the puck along with his work at the dot needs improvement. Staying healthy and remaining in the lineup for the entire regular season and a playoff push would be a welcome event.
Phillip Danault is versatile, as he is capable on the penalty kill and can be effective on the powerplay as well. At 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds, he has good hockey sense and can play center and wing. His consistency needs to improve. With a pass first mentality, Danault needs to shoot more to keep the opposing defense honest. He’s reached his potential, as Danault is contributing to the squad as much as he possibly can.
At 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, Tomas Plekanec is a playmaker with a great hockey IQ. He is quick and at the faceoff dot, he is on point. He’s a two-way player that’s showing his age. Plekanec can’t handle bigger centers over an 82 game campaign plus playoff games, he gets wore down over the long haul.
Torrey Mitchell is a value at the faceoff dot and on the penalty kill. His offensive skill just isn’t there. Mitchell is an above average checker who is strong on his skates. At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, he’s suited as a fourth line player who can play both wings as well.
There are your four centers, and a true number one center is a very real need. Galchenyuk will succeed in spades with a number one center acquisition, or at least a center of his caliber that would put Danault in on the third line with Plekanec and Mitchell to battle for fourth line time.
The problem is that there are no free agents to just go out and sign that would upgrade the center mix. So any acquisition would be by trade. St. Louis’ Paul Stastny, Colorado’s Matt Duchene, the Islanders‘ John Tavares, Philadelphia‘s Claude Giroux and Edmonton‘s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins compromise a nice wish list.
All would come at a heavy price. It would take high-end prospects and a first-round pick to even start discussions. With $8,500,000 in cap space, returning a center in the trade would be ideal, as it would free up more cap space plus loosen the logjam at center that a trade would create. Left defense is still a weak position that needs to be addressed. If Jakob Jerabek impresses and can fill the bill, then acquiring and paying a top flight pivot isn’t such a hit.
If the teams want too much or just won’t deal, then maybe one of the farm boys can make a splash at camp and fill the void. Charles Hudon and Jacob De La Rose both spent time in Montreal last season. They may be ready for the show, but they aren’t going to help fill top six center positions.
They will have to look outside the organization to fill the need. The farm boys may fill the void in the future, but the need is now. How many years do the Montreal stars Carey Price, Shea Weber, and Max Pacioretty have left to be able to make serious Cup runs? The Habs need to spend the assets to make a serious Cup run while they have these stars.
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