Welcome back to the final installment of my Montreal Canadiens player points predictions series. We are now a mere 22 days away from the drop of the puck with the rookie currently going and the big camp just around the corner.
Let’s just drop the puck and get-er going!!
The hot topic of the last few days has been the signing of Jeff Halpern as the 23rd man on the Habs roster. Halpern will bring a wealth of leadership and experience to the Habs. He can provide grit and even score goals when needed as evidenced by his 20 goal season only 2 seasons ago. Time will tell if this was a good pick up, but for 600k, you can’t go wrong. 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 defensemen; I hope you have enjoyed the series of articles.
#79 – Andrei Markov
I once heard the slogan “Like a rock”, that is the exact slogan I would use to describe Markov. Aside from last year, Markov has been nothing but spectacular for the Habs. He is an offensive defenseman but is just as good defensively as evidenced by his play on both the power play and the penalty kill. All though he can be shy, there is no denying the effect that Markov’s presence has not only on the ice, but in the dressing room as well. Many people have speculated that Markov will be named the teams’ next captain; unfortunately, due to his shyness with the media I really don’t see him being given the “C”. However, he will for sure get an “A”.
Until last year, Markov has enjoyed a relatively major injury free career. We can only hope that his knee injury sustained in the playoffs will not hamper his abilities. That being said, Markov is known for making miraculous recoveries as is evidenced by his 34 points in only 45 games for the Habs last season. As for this year, Markov agent has stated that Markov may be ready for the start of the season. My hope is that the Habs brass tells him not to rush it but I do still feel that we could see him back within the first 10 games. Time will tell.
2009/2010: 6 Goals, 28 Assists, 34 Points (Only played in 45 games)
2010/2011: 15 Goals, 50 Assists, 65 Points
#76 – PK Subban
As the Eagles once said, “Everybodys talkin’ bout the new kid in town”. I remember watching the draft and couldn’t believe that that PK actually slipped by to the second round. However, I was extremely happy when Trevor Timmins announced his name as the Habs second round pick. Subban was an instant hit with both the fans and media due to his impeccable way with his words. I remember the 2 games that he was called up for in the regular season and you could already hear “Subbanamania” beginning to grow.
Subban was superb in his call by the Habs during the playoff run. He was counted on to make big play and play big minutes, both of which he did. It is being said that Subban has put on about 15 pounds in the offseason and it certainly seems to be paying dividends, just ask Hunter Bishop. While his spot on the roster is not fully locked in, I have a feeling that we won’t being seeing Subban in a Bulldogs uniform this year. I don’t want to jinx him, but I firmly believe that Subban has a legitimate shot at winning the Calder this year.
2009/2010: 0 Goals, 2 Assists, 2 Points (Only played in 2 regular season games)
2010/2011: 10 Goals, 30 Assists, 40 Points
#44 – Roman Hamrlik
As a former 1st round draft pick, Hamrlik is now regarded as a very rock-steady D-man who is responsible in his own end and still has the hands to make things happen in the offensive end. Though “Hammer” may be getting older I have much respect for him for the way he stepped up his game and played monster minutes during the Markov injury. Hammer will be relied upon to help with the growth of Subban since both showed good chemistry together in the playoffs. If you ask me, that is perfect! Just ask guys like Phaneuf and Sarich, they’ll confirm how steady of an influence that Hammer was.
I don’t expect much out of Hammer in the offensive department but will definitely expect him to remain the defensive monster that he is. He is very smart in his own end and has no issues using his body when required. I expect him to be paired with Subban as the teams second unit and hope that he can also have an influence on Ryan O’Byrne as he tries to regain his early 09/10 form.
2009/2010: 6 Goals, 20 Assists, 26 Points
2010/2011: 5 Goals, 15 Assists, 20 Points
#6 – Jaroslav Spacek
After compiling 45 points with Buffalo in 08/09, Spacek was looked upon as the replacement for the departed Mark Streit. Unfortunately, things just didn’t work out as expected. However, I do respect Spacek for the amount of minutes he was able to log during the Markov injury. The hope is that with a reduced work load that Spacek will once again find the form that led to his being signed with the Habs as a free agent. Here’s hoping!
Though his regular season left a lot to be desired, his performance in the playoffs was excellent. The way he was able to shutdown both Ovie and Crosby was just unreal and, to me, is the other reason that he was signed by the Habs. A lot of people tend to forget that Spacek was a part of Edmonton’s run to the final in 05/06
2009/2010: 3 Goals, 18 Assists, 21 Points
2010/2011: 5 Goals, 25 Assists, 30 Points
#75 – Hal Gill
I have been following Gills’ career ever since he played for the Bruins and can honestly say that I was shocked when he was signed by the Habs. All of my regular season memories of Gill seem to be of another player skating around him like he is some sort of pylon. That being said, my opinion of Hal started to change during the 08/09 cup run by the Pens. The way he was able to use his big body to both block shots and take players off the puck was simply unreal. As suspected, his 1st regular season with the Habs was not the greatest, but his first playoff run was simply amazing!
Gill knows he is not the greatest skater, that being said, the key to Gills’ success lies in his positioning. I suspect that he will be paired with Georges since they shared major success together in the playoff run. We should not expect much out of Gill in the offensive department but what we should expect, and hope for, is a solid defensive effort on a consistent basis. I am also hoping that Gill with take O’Byrne under his wing and show him how to effectively use his size.
2009/2010: 2 Goals, 9 Assists, 11 Points
2010/2011: 4 Goals, 11 Assists, 15 Points
#26 – Josh Georges
Since coming to the Habs in a trade that saw veteran d-man Craig Rivet and 5th round pick go to San Jose, Georges has been nothing but spectacular. The guy never seems to run out of energy! His tireless work ethic and willingness to give his all every night was very refreshing on a team that seemed to have quite a few loafers at the time. It’s also his work ethic and his way with words that made him an instant fan and media favourite.
There are many calling for Georges to be names the next team captain. While his is not my pick, I would not be against him being picked. Georges leads by example and both he and Gill set the bar quite high for themselves going into this season. I have a very good feeling that we will continue to see Georges do what he does best, shut down the other teams’ best players.
2009/2010: 3 Goals, 7 Assists, 10 Points
2010/2011: 5 Goals, 10 Assists, 15 Points
#20 – Ryan O’Byrne
What to say about Ryan O’Byrne … what to say. I honestly do feel for the guy. He had a very rough year after an excellent start. I firmly believe the unraveling of Ryan was mainly due to having to deal with the death of his mother due to cancer. I know exactly what Ryan was going through as my own father was diagnosed with bone cancer earlier this year. It’s never an easy thing to deal with especially since his mother was home in BC while he was away. I can only pray that Ryan has had time that he needed to both reflect upon her life and make peace with her passing.
Before his mothers’ death, Ryan was on a tear. He likes to use his massive 6-6 frame to lay punishing body checks on the opposition. I hope we get to see more of that this year. Unfortunately, I believe that Ryan will be starting the year as the teams 7th d-man unless he has a spectacular training camp. Here’s hoping!
2009/2010: 1 Goals, 3 Assists, 4 Points (Only played in 55 games)
2010/2011: 3 Goals, 7 Assists, 10 Points
That’s it for now… Thank you for taking the time to read the series, it has been fun writing it!