WE MADE IT! Habs and NHL fans alike rejoice as we are but single digit days away from the official start to the 2021 NHL Season. The Habs kick things off with 42 players invited to camp which is set to get underway today with all but two players ready to take part in on ice activities. To quote Habs General Manager (GM), Marc Bergevin: “You can put anything on paper, it doesn’t matter until you start playing games and having the results”. So let’s get things going!
The aforementioned quote came from the team’s pre-season Press Conference that took place yesterday afternoon. I will try to keep the recap of this presser short, but let’s begin with the quote that came from his answer to a Stu Cowan question about Bergy’s excitement level about this team. Of course he said he was excited, I would expect Bergy to lie even if he wasn’t, but as the GM mentions, this team is still fast, he added size, some scoring and some veteran leadership.
The highlight of the Press Conference was when Bergevin made a Poker analogy. This is amazing because this will allow me to double down on the gambling analogies after the Roulette Theory. In, what I can only consider a conspiracy theory question, Bergevin was asked if he chose to make ‘a move’ with his roster this season because “other teams in the league had already thrown in the towel on the season”. Paraphrasing a bit with the translation, but one, this is a dumb question and two, Bergevin immediately discredited any and all of those allegations.
Bergy chose instead to use a Poker analogy to say that this is far from the team going ‘All In’. He very astutely pointed out that he and his staff took advantage of the perfect storm. The team had a ton of available Cap space and the league as a whole found themselves in a precarious financial situation the team used to their advantage. More importantly, the team managed to make all of these upgrades without having to sacrifice the future. Outside of a 3rd and 5th, the Habs kept all of their future asset.
One aspect of the team that will be fun to watch will be the Cap management. Bergy got hit with a sequence of questioning from Eric Engels, Arpon Basu and François Gagnon as to how the team would manage the Cap, active roster and Taxi Squad. Long story short, it is going to be a juggling act that savante John Sedgwick is well prepared for. The nuances of the Taxi Squad implications on the Cap were discussed in my previous article, but Bergy basically said that they are prepared for all options and the team’s roster will be a juggling act on a day to day basis.
A few more small points of note, with the CHL in limbo, the league is currently working on parameters that would help these players see some ice time. Depending on who you speak to, some people have confirmed that the NHL will allow CHL players to join their respective AHL camps until the moment that the respective leagues begin their seasons. Finally, trades and waivers will be a complicated matter this year so don’t expect much. This basically puts an end to trade deadline before the season starts, but as Bergevin put it, who knows where we will be come April, so things can change.
Now back to the ice, with the Habs first official practice in the books, here are the line combinations at practice:
Without diving into a full analysis, some first impressions looking at these.
1. Tatar and Perry were not on the ice as they both have an additional day of quarantine to clear protocol.
2. Speaking of Perry, I would like to see him lined up alongside Kotkaniemi and Toffoli, but that’s just me.
3. Romanov is getting the Suzuki treatment, and I fully expect him to have every opportunity to earn his spot next to Weber come season’s end.
4. Kulak and Petry will play together this year, they were too effective together to not play together, but might as well try things now.
5. Bergevin mentioned that the internal expectations and competition has been raised, this is clear looking at this roster.
6. Bergevin said he wanted a roster than can play any style of game; mission accomplished.
7. The Habs may not be able to carry a full roster to start the season; about that internal competition.
8. Despite that fact that they are well insulated and protected, this team will go as far as their young Centers will take them.
9. As much I hate to say this, Drouin is the X-factor in this line up. He was brought in to be an elite offensive talent, and like a (insert fancy sports car model here), he requires Premium gas or talent to get the most out of him. He’s out of excuses now, it is time to produce.
10. While wait for the Power Play lineups to come out, for fun, here is what I would like to see (positional names are not official, just mine).
Net Front – Perry Gallgher
Bumper – Anderson Kotkaniemi
Half Wall (L) – Weber Toffoli
Half Wall (R) – Drouin Suzuki
Blue Line – Tatar Petry
What would you like to see?
Anyone interested in sports, who has lived in Montreal for any amount of time knows that there is an inexplicable vibe that runs through the city that is directly correlated to the Habs. For the first time in a long time there is an excitement shared by the fans, front office, and now the player’s too! Before we get ahead of ourselves, it is important to remember, nothing matters on paper.
As always, check out the rest of the Hot Sauce community! In our final Podcast of the year, Peeze, Terry and Eagle talk Football, 2020 in review and welcome Guiness World Record Holder Shangrila Rendon to the show! Shangrile is a World Record Holding Triathlete that now coaches and motivates people to become better athletes and people.
Alex the Intern and Terry take a look back at the season that was in Fantasy Football with the Fantasy Football Hustler. A fitting interview for Week 16, but for those of you looking to get a head start on next season look no further. I personally got a nice beat down from Peeze in the finals of our company league, so congrats to him as I go cry in the shower.
I am also happy to announce that we have started an Interview series. Terry and I follow up our interview with Brent Sopel by welcoming HC Torpedo, Strength and Conditioning Coach Andrew Kacsor to the show. We bring things back to the beginning with this Beauty to talk about his journey to the KHL. Teaser, we discuss the infamous Russian gas!
Don’t forget to take advantage of our Promo Codes by visiting MikesBBQrubMTL.com with Promo Code HotSauce10 to get 10% orders on all individual bottles.