It’s safe to assume that the Canadiens defence could use a slight changing of the guard and with four d-men hitting unrestricted free agency, now’s as good a time as any to change some parts.
Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, and Mike Weaver need new contracts, and after seeing Mike Weaver battle, he should stay. Not the biggest guy, but fearless, smart, and experienced. An important player in the trenches.
Weaver, 36, is a right-handed shot.
We know what Andrei Markov brings. He’s crafty, experienced, usually great on the power play, and he’s been a key mentor for Alexei Emelin and PK Subban, which often goes unnoticed but so important. And although he’s slowing down, I’d like him back for two more years. But he wants at least three and it’s a tough one.
Markov shoots left and is 35 years old.
Francis Bouillon can probably be replaced, and although he wasn’t all that appreciated by many Habs fans, I thought he did yeoman’s service for the most part and from time to time would come up with a huge goal. But he’s 38 and it might be time.
Douglas Murray is Douglas Murray. A bruiser who stops people in their tracks. But he’s incredible slow, he’s awkward with the puck, and he’s 34. It’s time for him. He also shoots left.
So our unrestricted free agent defencemen consist of three who shoot left and one right, with an average age of 35.75.
It’s time to give younger guys regular minutes.
We’ve seen how Nathan Beaulieu can skate and move the puck, although the Rangers series exposed some inexperience. He shoots left.
We know left-handed Jarred Tinordi can apply thunderous hits, is a good skater who handles the puck much better than Murray, and although he’s still learning, he’s extremely close to playing full time.
Greg Pateryn is 6’2″, 214 lbs, shoots right, and is smart and ready to go. It’s time to give him a quality look.
If Bouillon and Murray left, it would leave the team with 3 right-handed defencemen (Subban, Weaver, and Pateryn), and 5 lefties (Markov, Emelin, Gorges, Beaulieu, and Tinordi).
Dalton Thrower, who just signed a three-year entry level contract, needs some minor pro seasoning first before even being considered. He’s a right-handed shot but cracking next year’s lineup straight out of junior is asking way too much.
If Markov doesn’t re-sign, the power play, aside from Subban and maybe Pateryn, doesn’t seem to have much oomph. Unless a forward with a big shot is put back on the point the way Boom Boom Geoffrion was. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forwards with big shots.
Markov should be resigned. It’s only money, the franchise has plenty, and the guy’s not finished yet. And Emelin still needs some mentoring, as will Tinordi, Beaulieu and Pateryn.
So the blueline lineup could have some inexperience. Pateryn – 3 regular season total games, Beaulieu – 23 games, Tinordi 30. Not a lot of games for almost half the defence corps.
Anyone out there in unrestricted free agency that Bergevin could focus on? Matt Niskanen? Marek Zidlicky? Dan Boyle? Kimmo Timonen? Derek Morris? Willie Mitchell? Andrej Meszarov?
Maybe through a trade? All kinds of packages could be put together, including getting the most bang for the buck by moving Dustin Tokarski now while he’s hot, as Mike Mckim suggests.
Or maybe Subban, Emelin, Gorges, Markov, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Weaver, and Pateryn just might do it.