Hockey NHL

2021 Montreal Canadiens: 5 Spicy Predictions

I will let the legend John Buccigross sum up my intro in one tweet:

1. Tomas Tatar is the Habs best Forward on the season finishing First in Points again.

The love affair between Tatar and the city of Montreal has continually grown at an exponential level since that classic TATARRR video. This has to be up there as one of the greatest toss in trade pieces in recent memory. Tuna has put up back to back career years with the team but no one wants to take notice.

Even I said that Tatar will likely be the unfortunate man out at the end of the season due to Cap issues. The Habs top line from the last couple of seasons has two players in contract years, both of whom deserve much more money. If you look at Tatar, he was the team’s leading scorer last season, furthermore let’s look at all of the players in the NHL to score 60+ points last season. If you eliminate Rookie Contracts, Tatar had the 4 lowest Cap hit of this group!

The Habs have enjoyed a couple years of discounted scoring from Tatar who just turned 30. Because of his age Tatar is obviously looking to cash in big one last time while he can, but what happens if this team makes a deep run? Instead of playing for a Pay Day, does Tatar take a discount for term to see things to the end with the Habs?

2. Shea Weber will finish First on the team in Goals, this one is the mildest of the bunch so why not ease into it

Turning the temperature to Tabasco, for this to happen the Habs Power Play (PP) would need to function at an average NHL level. This year the team has the depth to fill out two competent units that can be rolled out in any situation. Weber’s 1-timer remains the most dangerous shot in the NHL (Ovie’s is more effective, not more dangerous) and opposing team’s have strategically been taking that away from the Habs. With the additional weapons taking the focus off Weber, thereby giving him more space to operate as well, this should lead to a more efficient PP and Goals for Weber.

Another thing to point out courtesy of the Hockey Expert himself, Marco D’Amico, Weber will have two right handed shots teeing him up. Marco recently joined Terry and Alex and explained that a righty to righty 1-timer adds an element of spin that puts a bit more velocity on the shot. Marco compares this to the Markov to Kovalev days! You can check out the full interview by following the link at the bottom of the article

3. Romanov will force his way into the Calder conversation

We’re still working our way up the Scoville scale so for this Tasbasco Take, it is strictly in the conversation. Not a nomination nor am I naming him the front runner for the trophy. Shestyorkin (Shesterkin?) to me is the run away winner, but Kaprizov and Laffy will make it fun. I think that Romanov will however earn some ‘Honourable Mentions’ in similar fashion to Suzuki. If you look at Suzuki’s usage last season under Claude Julien, he started on the Fourth line before earning his way into a Top 6 role and making a serious late season push towards the Calder. Choosing to believe that Suzuki’s rookie season was a foreshadowing for Romanov, the defenseman is already ahead of the curve. He is starting on the third Pairing, just like Suzuki on the fourth line, but Romanov is already being used on the PP.

The other part to this, which Terry eluded to in the interview with Marco, I think that we will see Romanov playing next to Weber by mid-season. Edmundson gives the Habs the versatility to adjust their shut down pairing based on matchup and he can also switch over to play on the right side. Edmundson and Chiarot could become the top shut down unit for this team, which would allow Romanov to play and develop beside Weber. In this condensed season, a half point per game pace is 28, and I think that Romanov has a chance to get into the low twenties to get himself in the conversation.

4. Trade – Drouin to the Avalanche

Full disclosure, I doubt we will see any trades this season. Regardless of how many people heard a rumour from a friend whose neighbour dog sits for the Habs Equipment Manager’s grandmother’s Crib partner. Far too many factors at play for the trade market to really have any substantial footing and the Trade Deadline likely won’t be anywhere near what we have become accustom to. However, since we have reached Habanero/Ghost pepper levels of Spice, let’s create a hypothetical.

Jonathan Drouin is like a Black Market Ferrari to me. It cost you a lot to acquire (Sergachev, 9th overall pick), it is a fairly good long term, value investment (6 year, 5.5 AAV), but it requires a lot of up keep. He must be paired with premium oil or talent for optimal performance, otherwise it is just another nice looking sports car with no real benefits under the hood. It is unfortunate that injuries put an end to a couple of good stretches in his time with Montreal, but overall Drouin has failed to live up to expectations nor does he make anyone around him better.

Now let’s take a look at a few things here, for starters Drouin’s best hockey was next to MacKinnon. Now imagine him on the Left Wing skating alongside MacKinnon and Rantanen. If Colorado goes all in on this season, maybe they pay the price to acquire Drouin to try and recreate that magic. They currently have the Cap Space to afford a $4M player so there would be some hurdles, and they also have more important needs, specifically in the crease. The goalie market may be too expensive for the Avs and they are more than set on Defense with Byram not even in the official starting line up yet.

So if Drouin has another tough season, do you say no to possibly a 1st and a prospect? A Justin Barron to replace Juulsen? Newhook would be an obvious name to throw in here but it would probably require the Habs to retain Cap and toss in another piece.

5. The Habs will have fans in the stands for the Playoffs!

This both implies that I think the Habs will make the Playoffs and that the Canadian Federal Government rolls out the vaccination perfectly according to plan. Even then, this may not happen in time, however here’s to being optimistic! This is Carolina Reaper levels of spice which would be poetically fitting if the Habs make it far enough to play against the Hurricanes!

I’m getting way ahead of myself, but the excitement level for this season makes it tough to not get wrapped up in the optimism. I selfishly hope for a Canadiens vs Toronto playoff matchup, I’ve waited my whole life for it. Dare I even say that the ideal first round matchups would be

Montreal vs Toronto
Calgary vs Edmonton

An iconic Original 6 series with the Battle of Alberta!

I will leave you with this as we count down the minutes to puck drop.

The boys are back at it again this week as our Flagship Podcast goes through a rebrand to start 2021! Welcome to Not Sauce For Work, a new name but the same idiots you love. Peeze, Terry and Eagle discuss the recent Mets trade and recap the week that was in the NFL and NBA. The boys also sit down with Chad Geter of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, finally wrapping things up by giving their suggestions for NHL division names.

Here is the much anticipated interview with the one and only Hockey Expert, Marco D’Amico! The perfect way for you to get yourself ready for tonight’s season opener!

Don’t forget to take advantage of our Promo Codes by visiting with Promo Code HotSauce10 to get 10% orders on all individual bottles.

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