There is no doubt that while the Montreal Canadiens have surprised many this season and currently hold the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, they could have actually been a lot better not only this season, but the last few seasons and even into the future.
While it is all in the past, both the Habs’ franchise and their fans have probably been kicking themselves for the last several seasons. In that time, they have made several questionable moves and ones that were very unpopular with the club’s fans.
One move that hurt a bit was when they traded their former captain Max Pacioretty to the Vegas Golden Knights. This was a guy that produced year in and year out, was a leader both on and off the ice, and was someone who wore the team’s logo on his chest while doing everything he can to make his team relevant and a contender.
Pacioretty, 30, is having a decent season. He currently has 35 points on 21 goals and 14 assists in 55 games.
Yes, I realize that is not a lot of points. With that said, however, his 21 goals would put him fourth on the Habs in scoring behind guys like Tomas Tatar (22 goals), Max Domi (22 goals), and Brendan Gallagher (30 goals).
I understand that those goal totals are not bad at all. With that said, you can never have too much goal scoring in this league so having a guy like Pacioretty on this roster would have been beneficial.
Prior to that, it was trading P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators. This guy is an all-world defenseman who is a great hockey player, someone who can keep the guys loose as well as a guy who can stick-up for his teammates both on the ice and with the media.
Before Subban, it was the trade of Ryan McDonagh to the Blueshirts. McDonagh may not have the name recognition of a Karlsson, Hedman, Burns or Doughty, but he has been one of the league’s most steady defensemen over the last handful of years.
Do you know what these three players have in common? They were the Habs’ first three picks in the 2007 draft. These three guys all have letters on their jerseys, have had solid NHL careers and all have a lot of time left in the league. These three all gone and the return for each of them were all inconsequential.
Had the Habs not moved these three guys, things could be a lot different. Not only would they be in a more secure position in the Eastern Conference, but they would be a team that would be more than competitive in an extremely good Atlantic Division.
The team would also have one of the best blue lines in the game, a more than solid offense, and with Carey Price between the pipes, it would be enough to make them a contender. In fact, it could be said that they would be one of the top teams in the entire league.
Again, things are good with the Habs right now, but had they not made certain moves, things would be even better.
*Photo: Sports Illustrated