Here’s a scenario for you: A team gets rid of a guy who had 17 goals and gave minimal effort every night and they become better? Yes I’m talking about Max Pacioretty who was the Canadiens captain but never really acted like it or deserved the letter. When the trade was made for Shea Weber he was clearly the leader in that room.
Here’s another scenario: A team drafts a player 3rd overall and has no idea what forward position he plays; the kid doesn’t fully develop but also doesn’t really show much effort into wanting to develop and come back past his own blue line. The team trades that player for a guy who wants to be in hockey-crazed Montreal and who will bring it every night, even if the numbers from the last few seasons show the Canadiens ‘lost’ the trade. Yes, I’m talking about trading Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi.
Last Scenario: A kid is ranked to barely make the first round of the NHL entry draft but keeps improving throughout the year and ends up being ranked around pick #5 and the Canadiens take him at #3. Turns out the kid has impressed in almost every game and is likely to be a key for the team for the next 15 years. Yes, I’m talking about Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
It’s interesting how people looked negatively upon every one of the scenarios for the Canadiens. Max Pacioretty was loved by most in Montreal even though he had 17 goals in his last year and also wound up with 1 assist in 6 playoff games in 2017. This year would have been a nightmare for him if he wasn’t dealt. Contract questions every day and seeing how much he cost himself with every bad performance. Pacioretty is a good scorer but does not drive his line and is not supposed to be ‘the guy’ for a good team. See Vegas, 2 goals in 12 games. Meanwhile Tomas Tatar has 14 points in 16 games and Nick Suzuki has 25 points in 16 games in the OHL.
Max Domi had 9 goals last year, and somehow 4 of them were into an empty net. Max Domi has 9 goals (and 10 assists) in 16 games this year and has been every bit the sparkplug that the Canadiens needed up front. Domi’s personality screams that he wants to be the guy in Montreal, and to me, it looked like he just couldn’t play to his potential in Arizona.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi rose so much in the draft last year and wounded up being taken 3rd overall. People at the draft were fuming because they thought Filip Zadina or Brady Tkachuk would have been the ‘better’ pick. Well you draft Centres because they’re not available in Free Agency and good luck trading for one. Kotkaniemi has impressed in Montreal, he might only have 7 points in 16 games. But Claude Julien trusts him at both ends of the ice and that’s saying lots for an 18 year old.
The Canadiens have started out 8-5-3 which isn’t outstanding but it’s better than what people expected. You could even say the best part is Carey Price only has an .892 save percentage in 12 games and they have started out well. When Price regains his form, look out.