Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Montreal Canadiens
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – The main move was the Galchenyuk for Domi swap in which both former highly-touted high draft picks get a chance at a fresh start. No matter what angle I try to look at this, I can’t look at it as an upgrade for Montreal. So Habs fans will need to hope for chemistry. Maybe Domi can hit it off on a line with Jonathan Drouin?
Joel Armia is a fine upgrade on Daniel Carr, but he’s not a game breaker who can turn the team’s fortunes around.
Ready for full-time – Defenseman Victor Mete is pretty much a lock to make the team, but not 100 percent. The team desperately needs him, but he’s not ready – and last season didn’t emphasize that – then this time he’s eligible to play in the AHL. Either way, he doesn’t look ready to help any fantasy squads just yet.
Goaltender Charlie Lindgren is on a one-way deal, but then again so is Antti Niemi. You can’t have two backups and Lindgren can be sent down without having to clear waivers. But he gets paid an NHL salary either way, and he’s a better goaltender than Niemi so he will see his share of action.
Matthew Peca was signed as a free agent in the summer. He was unrestricted despite being just 25, thanks to the Group VI clause in the CBA. He had a proven track record of posting 40 to 45 points in the AHL and during brief call-ups to the Tampa Bay Lightning he compiled seven points in 20 games and was plus-3. There is a strong likelihood that he establishes himself as a regular on the third or possible fourth line.
Nikita Scherbak is ready to be eased into the NHL now, which is a good thing – he now has to clear waivers in order to be sent down. Scherbak has scoring-line upside, but he’s a Band-Aid Boy who can be relied on to miss 10 or 20 games per season. Were it not for injuries, he would be a very highly-touted prospect and may have been in the league a lot sooner. He holds some fantasy interest, likely in spurts.
Montreal’s prize of the summer is center Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who they drafted third overall in June. This is a team desperate for centermen, and Kotkaniemi is a centerman. But is he ready? Reports out of prospect camp say that he is, but I would err on the side of caution here and assume he just gets in a nine-game trial before being sent down for more seasoning. Do you really want your 18-year-old prize prospect joining a team that seems destined to lose 40 games again?
Defenseman Noah Juulsen broke his foot in training camp, just when it looked as though he was going to make the team. The 21-year-old then needed to get in some AHL action to get back to game shape and was eventually called up to the big club in February. He didn’t look back, averaging nearly 20 minutes per game and establishing himself as an NHLer. He has a bit of offensive upside, but only in a secondary capacity and he will take several years to get to that point in the pros.
Montreal Canadiens prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Montreal scored 209 goals last season and that actually topped a pair of teams – Buffalo managed 199 and Arizona 208. Now that the Sabres have added a ton of firepower and the Coyotes added a couple of pieces as well – I think you’re looking at the lowest scoring team of 2018-19. But not to worry, the prospects are coming. They have, um…well, there’s uh…Ryan Poehling is pretty good. Okay, so the prospects aren’t coming either (other than, of course, Poehling and Kotkaniemi). But at least the Habs have a…long, storied history. And Carey Price.
Fantasy Grade: D (last year was B)
Other Offseason Fantasy Outlooks:
- Ramblings: Hamilton and the Hurricanes, Gibson’s Greatness, Ghosting Ghost Too Early?
- 21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
- Ramblings: Fast Starting Oilers, Kakko’s First Goal, Lehner/Raanta Season Debuts (Oct 13)
- Looking Ahead: October 11 through October 23
- Ramblings: The 10 Biggest Worries (Of My Projections)…and The 10 Guide Projections I’m Not Budging (Oct 14)
- The Journey: Next in Line - The Pacific Division
- Geek of the Week: Can Kevin Labanc Be A Breakout Star?
- Saturday's NHL Picks: October 12, 2019