Well folks, its 34 days till the season starts, but training camp is right around the corner!
Finally! Let’s get back to some hockey!
Living in Ottawa gives me a unique opportunity to watch 3 brands of hockey. Besides the Sens, I can also take in either an Ottawa 67’s (OHL) or Gautineau Olympiques (QMJHL) game. This year I will be doing both so I can catch Jarred Tinordi and Louis Leblanc/Philippe Lefebvre in action when they are in town. But I digress …
Since the Habs roster is just about set I thought I would try my hand at making predictions, from a fan perspective, for your enjoyment. Feel free to disagree with anything that you read. All I ask that you keep your comments clean and back-up your argument.
Today I’ll be predicting the Wingers and make my way to the back end in my next article.
#13 – Mike Cammalleri
Ever since his arrival in the NHL, Cammalleri has been regarded as an extremely hard worker with an incredible scoring touch. When I think of Cammalleri, the words that come to mind are: determination, speed, courage, power, grit, and goals, lots of goals. In case you can’t remember, the last 40 goal scorer for the Habs was Vincent Damphousse in 93/94. I firmly believe that “Cammy” will indeed reach that mark.
Besides scoring goals, Cammy is also not afraid to stick up for his teammates when needed. He may not be the biggest guy out there, but his heart makes up for the difference. Since going on his scoring rampage in the playoffs I have been using the phrase “The Cam Man Can”. I have a very good feeling that we will be using that phrase all year long as Cammy lights up the other team’s goalies.
2009/2010: 26 Goals, 24 Assists, 50 Points (Only played in 65 games)
2010/2011: 40 Goals, 35 Assists, 75 Points
#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn
Since being picked 10th overall in the 2003 entry draft, Andrei has yet to consistently live up to his potential with the exception being the 07/08 season when he scored 26 goals and added 27 assists. Since then, there have been many things going on for the Russian including: being linked to Russian mob, getting creamed by Kurt Sauer and last, but certainly not least, having to deal with his brothers’ non-sense on a daily basis. Well, the link was proven to be untrue, he has had time to heal from the hit and his brother was traded to Nashville.
He can skate, he can hit and he has the deadliest wrist shot on the team. The key for Andrei will be to do/use all of those things on a more consistent basis as many fans and reporters alike have taken to comparing him to, the enigmatic, Alex Kovalev. However, like Kovalev, when Andrei is on his game there is not much you can do to stop him. If ever there was a time to prove people wrong and earn a nice new contract, for Andrei, this is it.
2009/2010: 15 Goals, 18 Assists, 33 Points (Only played in 59 games)
2010/2011: 30 Goals, 35 Assists, 65 Points
#21 – Brian Gionta
If I was ever asked who has the biggest heart in the NHL, Brian Gionta would definitely be my answer. He is a 2 time Stanley Cup champion who, like Gomez, gives it his all, night in and night out. At 5’ 7”, Gionta may be the smallest player in the league but he has no issues taking on the big defensemen such as Chara. Jacques Martin stated that the Habs would name a captain during training camp and in my opinion there is no better pick than Gionta. As a player, I can honestly say that Gionta is absolutely the type of player I would look up to and want to follow into battle. He is the perfect example to show that you don’t have to be the biggest guy to make it, an example that all Habs prospects can look up to.
As a former 40 goal scorer, there is no doubt that Gionta can put the puck in the net. He has the uncanny ability to always find the hole in the oppositions defence and has no issues going to the net to do the dirty work. We also found out that the chemistry between him and Gomez has not diminished in the least. As a fan, I love how easily they can pick apart another teams defence and look forward to seeing more if it this year!
2009/2010: 28 Goals, 18 Assists, 46 Points (Only played in 61 games)
2010/2011: 30 Goals, 35 Assists, 65 Points
#57 – Benoit Pouliot
Pouliot had an immediate impact after he was brought in by the Habs in a trade with Minnesota that sent Latendresse the other way. However, according to the pundits, since being picked 4th overall in the 2005 entry draft, Pouliot has yet to live up to that potential. I would have to agree but add in the fact that Pouliot never really had the chance to play his style of game under the defensive thumb of Jacques Lemaire. While Martin is also a defensive coach, he also knows the value of an excellent run and gun attack, which Pouliot excels at.
After playing the majority of the year with Gomez and Gio, we can expect to see him there again this year unless someone steps up in training camp. From what I read, Pouliot has added about 15 pounds of muscle over the summer and is looking forward to his first full season in the Red, White & Blue. The hope is that signing a 1 year deal will be the motivation he needs to produce and become more consistent.
2009/2010: 17 Goals, 11 Assists, 28 Points (Only played in 53 games)
2010/2011: 25 Goals, 25 Assists, 50 Points
#81 - Lars Eller
As per www.hockeysfuture.com
, Eller has decent size, is a good skater with very good technical skills. He also works hard and is in general very well-rounded as a player. His scoring touch is pretty good, but Eller is much more noticeable as a playmaker. He has really good hockey sense and has that special ability to find openings that few other players can. A team player, he plays a good two-way game, but could still use some fine-tuning in his defensive game and play without the puck.
Eller is expected play with the Habs next season. According to AHL reports, he is a true #1 centre at the AHL level already. He takes important faceoffs, establishes physical contact when needed, back-checks and transitions well. From the footage I have seen of Eller I would have to mirror those words. I look forward to seeing what the kid can do.
2009/2010: 2 Goals, 0 Assists, 2 Points (Only played in 7 games)
2010/2011: 15 Goals, 25 Assists, 40 Points
#94 – Tom Pyatt
Did anyone even know who this kid was before the Habs acquired him in the Gomez deal? I know I didn’t, but I certainly know who he is now. He was the steal of the deal! Pyatt is an extremely hard worked who seems to have endless amounts of energy. He provided a needed boost to the 3rd line and was superb when used on the penalty kill. While he is not really known for being a goal scorer, Pyatt does have good hands and can chip in on the offense.
He will most likely play on the 3rd line with Laps, who he already has chemistry with, and Eller. I believe this line will be explosive, fast, tough to play against and will give the opposition nothing but head aches all year long. Look for Pyatt to bust his butt all year in order to get himself a nice pay raise since he took a pay cut to remain with the Habs.
2009/2010: 2 Goals, 3 Assists, 5 Points (Only played in 40 games)
2010/2011: 5 Goals, 10 Assists, 15 Points
#32 – Travis Moen
As a fan, I was extremely excited when I found out that the Habs signed Moen for 3 years at a relatively good price, but ...he hasn’t lived up to my expectations ....so far. However, his performance in the playoffs was definitely what I have expected to see from him all along. He was big, he was mean and he scored. I have read that he is training with Georges and Price in Kelowna. I love this scenario as Moen can certainly help both of those guys with their development. As a Stanley Cup Champion, Moen is well aware of what it takes to win the Lords Cup.
At 6-2, 215 pounds, the Stewart Valley, Sask native is known for having a mean streak and a decent set of hands, just ask Sergei Gonchar. He may not score a lot, but the goals he does score always seem to be when the Habs really need it and he can always be counted on to stick up for his teammates even if it means dropping the gloves. I expect more of the same from Moen next year and am curious to see what him and Boyd could do together.
2009/2010: 8 Goals, 11 Assists, 19 Points
2010/2011: 10 Goals, 10 Assists, 20 Points
#52 - Mathieu Darche
Who would have thought that a 33 year old who has been signed by 7 NHL teams would have the impact that Darche had? Not me, but I am certainly glad that he did. Of the 5 goals that scored after the call up, 3 of those were game winners. However, the bigger impact was on Lapierre. For some reason, Lapierre started to come out of his funk while playing on a line with Darche. Perhaps the competition was just what Laps needed.
For his efforts, Darche was awarded with his first ever 1 way deal. It may only be for league minimum, but that amount is guaranteed! We can expect Darche to start on the 4th line and possibly move up to the 3rd if needed. If you ask me, Darche is finally living the dream. That being said, I really don’t see him wanting it to end anytime soon.
2009/2010: 5 Goals, 5 Assists, 10 Points (Only played in 29 games)
2010/2011: 12 Goals, 13 Assists, 25 Points
That’s it for now… but keep an eye out for my next piece on the Defensemen!