Rabid Habs

Habs Will Expect More From Emelin

Good morning everyone!

I mentioned yesterday that I would continue my analysis of the Habs’ off-season soon, well here I am!

I will get to the Danny Briere trade soon, but first I wanted to say a few words about the impact all these personnel changes will have on one defenseman who has lost a little bit of his lustre in the last couple of years: Alexei Emelin.

When Emelin first arrived with the Canadiens in 2011-12, it was with the condition that he would not be sent to the AHL, or else he would return to the KHL. It didn’t take long to notice that the man was of NHL calibre, and that his bodychecking abilities were out of this world. I mean the man literally demolished people. So much so, that you could clearly see it on the ice, as opposing teams started avoiding his side of the ice when he was on, for fear of getting laid out at the blue line. But that was when he was playing on the left side. Over the last 2 years, a shortage of right handed defensemen in the Canadiens squad, forced coach Therrien to use the bruising defenseman on the right side, and ever since then, we just haven’t seen the same Alexei Emelin. He just doesn’t throw his weight around as much when playing on the right, and he also seems a little lost at times.

However, now that the Habs have hired a top 4 right handed defenseman and made some room on the left side by trading away Josh Gorges, Emelin sees his opportunity handed to him to become a solid top 4 man playing on his natural side. He knows it, and the Habs know it. With a nice contract averaging $4.1M per year, management will be looking to cash in on their investment. I expect a breakout year from #74, at least I sure do hope so, as we will definitely need him to be a key player in our defensive core this season, if we’re to have a successful 2014-15 season.

Now to the Danny Briere trade… Did anyone NOT expect it? I mean, I have nothing against the guy, and I’m not sure we really received better than what we gave, but it just wasn’t working out for him with the Canadiens, so a change was needed. As far as Parenteau is concerned, his reputation precedes him. He’s apparently a bit of a lazy player so he might also wind up in coach Therrien’s doghouse very quickly, but at least he brings size on the wing, along with a certain amount of skill.

As far as I’m concerned, Parenteau will be a question mark, much like the new guy, Jiri Sekac. Until we see them in action in pre-season and during the regular season, who can tell how they will do. We’ll just hope for the best.

Regarding Sekac, by all accounts everyone seems impressed with the guy, including our own Tomas Plekanec. But the transition from a big European ice surface to the smaller NHL rinks can be a big one as we’ve seen in the past. One thing is for sure however, I’m very curious to see what he can do on the ice. He seems talented, but most of all he seems driven!

Another interesting acquisition this summer was the signing of Manny Malhotra, an experienced, physical and defensively sound centreman known for his skills in the faceoff circle that will come and make our penalty killing unit even more effective. At first glance it seemed kind of odd to add another fourth liner when we already have Weise, Prust, Moen and Bournival that can do the job very well, especially another centreman. Are the Habs looking to move one of them? If so, who? It’s no secret that Alex Galchenyuk is close to being ready to pivot one of our offensive lines. Is Bergevin perhaps looking to move Plekanec to make some room? Or Eller or Desharnais? That’s gonna be another story to follow this year.

So there it is, my take on the Habs’ off-season! Did I miss anything? Feel free to write your comments, they’re always appreciated!

Until then, thank you for reading!