The Blueliners

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?

Nope.

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.

13 thoughts on “The Blueliners”

  1. Dennis,
    Thanks again for another wonderful season of blogging and for keeping your followers so well connected to the fortunes of Les Canadiens through your interesting, diverse and funny columns. Undoubtedly you’ve seen Aislin’s cartoon saluting the Habs for the best hockey Montreal has experienced in 20+ years – perhaps you could share it on here for everyone to appreciate. Again, thanks for all the effort you put into your writing. Have a great summer – we look forward to hearing of Luci’s safe return. Eric

  2. Josh Gorges still has four years left at $4M per season.

    I wasn’t overly impressed with his performance against the Rangers and I wonder if Marc Bergevin might try to move him. His contract has a limited no-trade clause.

  3. Dennis – I agree with Danno … I wouldn’t be surprised if MB shopped Gorges along with Tokarski … and I would love it if we took a serious run at Dan Boyle … can’t wait to see a full season with Tinordi patrolling the blue-line

  4. Gorges could be part of a package, Danno, or something like that. Although he has excellent leadership which the team needs. Pretty sure the captain didn’t do a whole lot that way. Gorges and Weaver play similar games blocking shots and not being overly spectacular. I don’t know, to be honest with you. I need to think about this for a bit.

  5. These are not easy decisions for sure. It’s sad how Gionta who used to be such a sniper can’t buy a goal these days.

  6. Minor correction…

    “…Or maybe Subban, Emelin, Gorges, Markov, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Weaver, and Pateryn WILL MORE THAN do!”

  7. Maybe you’re right , Mike. Maybe that’s the eight. Especially if PK goes on a Norris tear.

  8. Danno, for me, in my own personal opinion that might not be kosher with others, I might keep him if he takes a serious pay cut and passes on the captain’s C to someone else. Like PK.

  9. Agree with Mike , good defensive corps there . Gionta has to go as he has not provided the scoring needed at key times . I think MB is a very good GM so far so lets see what he does to retool the team this summer . Dennis I thank you for all the great blogs you put up , I look forward to more . Have a great summer and don’t be so hard on yourself , that bike is pretty nice . Peace !

  10. Thanks a lot Joe. Yeah, I have faith in Bergevin. A couple of tweaks here and there and presto, a much longer run! We have lots to look forward to. And thanks about the blogs part. Really appreciate it.

  11. Dennis, I think your list shows we have to resign Markov even if it means overpaying him for longer than his legs will carry him. Ideally his contract should be front loaded, more $$$ for the first year when he’s still one of the best, only about $2-3M for the last when we can expect him to start slowing down. I don’t think that would be too out of line compared to Murray and Bouillon who each made $1.5M this past year.

    I think our big worry is Emelin. He has the big hits, but isn’t doing a great job defensively day in, day out. NY turned him completely inside out. Was he injured? Did he ever fully recover from the Lucic injury from last season?

    Note we still have Drewiske making a (low) NHL salary in Hamilton.

  12. I agree Christopher, about Markov. The Habs have lots of money and so what if he’s not worth the third or fourth year of a new deal. He’s needed on the power play and to help so many inexperienced guys. Emelin, yeah. Sometimes he goes brain dead and sometimes he appears nonchalant. I just want, as both you and I haven’t mentioned before (as has others) to see Tinordi and Beaulieu play regularly and Pateryn more.

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