Rabid Habs

5 Bold Predictions For The Upcoming Season

Habs' Alex Galchenyuk Photo - NHL.com

With the team’s training camp about a month away, there are still some things the Habs need to figure out before the opening puck drop in Toronto on October 7th.

Here are my five bold predictions for the  2015-16 Habs season:

1. Carey Price won’t match his numbers from last season

While Carey Price is without a doubt the best player on the planet right now, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to post an above .930 save percentage and under 2 goals against average again. Expect something like a .925 save percentage and around 2-2.2 goals against average from the best goalie in hockey. I think he will win the Vezina yet again next year, however, the Hart Trophy will go to someone else. He’ll need to have the other guys play better in front of him if the Habs want to go far.

2. Alex Galchenyuk becomes a full time centre by Christmas

After playing the vast majority of his first three NHL seasons at left wing, Alex Galchenyuk seems like he’s ready to move on to bigger things at centre. Drafted as the future number one centre for the Montreal Canadiens, Galchenyuk has yet to really get a shot at playing up the middle, except for a 10-game stint in December to early January in which he picked up 9 points (4 goals and 5 assists) playing alongside Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty. Things were looking good until teams started figuring Galchenyuk out towards the end of that stint. During his short time as top line centre, the Canadiens went 8-1-1.  Therrien then dropped him down to the second line in favour of Tomas Plekanec. During his few games at centre playing alongside David Desharnais and Jiri Sekac it appeared Galchenyuk wasn’t ready to be a 100% reliable centre just yet. He was moved back to the wing and hasn’t played up the middle since. This summer, Galchenyuk signed a two-year, $5.6M bridge contract. This will give the Canadiens some time to evaluate whether or not he’ll be the centre he is expected to be. This upcoming season, expect Galchenyuk to play centre in training camp but start the season at left wing. Around Christmas he could be given another shot to overstep Desharnais. If injuries occur it’ll be even likelier to happen. Galchenyuk will be given a longer stint at centre in 2015-16 season.

3. Alex Semin will score 20-25 goals

Earlier this summer, Alex Semin and the Canadiens agreed to a 1-year $1.1M contract. Semin had recently been bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes after he scored just 6 goals and 19 points in 57 games. Prior to last season, Semin had never scored less than 20 goals in a season. Semin’s biggest problem is he tends to not show up every game. But he’s on a one-year contract this season and needs to prove himself, so he’ll likely want to play for another big paycheck next summer. Semin is only 31 and is just a year removed from scoring 22 during the 2013-14 season. He is a special player and could really take a load off Pacioretty as the other pure goal scorer on the team.

4. Tom Gilbert  gets traded

The Canadiens currently have nine NHL defensemen on their roster, and will have to trade one to avoid the risk of losing a defenseman to waivers. Why will it have to be Tom Gilbert? The three defensemen that could be traded are Gilbert, Alexei Emelin or Jarred Tinordi. Emelin has a full no-trade clause and a $4.1M cap hit for another three years, so it will be very hard for Marc Bergevin to unload Emelin. However, he has managed to trade bad contracts before, and Toronto once traded David Clarkson. However, it’s just not that likely that he will be shipped compared to Tom Gilbert. Gilbert has a year left with a $2.8M salary next season. He would also provide a good amount of depth for a team in need. As for Tinordi, he may get traded if the Habs really feel he doesn’t fit on this team. They can’t risk losing him to waivers because at his size someone will take a chance on him. Is it time to move on from Tinordi or should he be kept up in Montreal for development? Clearly it looks as if Gilbert is most likely to move because it also opens up cap space if he’s traded for a 3rd or 4th round pick.

5. The Habs will win the Atlantic Division again

The Habs will be able to take the division again, seeing as their only true competition – the Tampa Bay Lightning – haven’t improved as much as the Canadiens did. Plus, the Habs also have a goaltending advantage on the Lightning, which is probably the most important position in hockey today. Also, expect the Habs to beat the Lightning once or twice next year as they have an improved offense that now includes Lightning killer Alex Semin.