Habs’ Need Right Winger

By Chris Boucher
The Canadiens have recently made many moves to bolster the front office. Bringing in solid managerial and scouting talent in Andre Savard, and Martin Madden. Both men should help Houle make the necessary choices when it comes to player movement. But the fact still remains that the Habs are an organization lacking depth; especially at the three forward positions.

Many questions are being asked by Fans and Media alike, “Are the Habs going to grab any free-agents?” And if so who?” Names such as Alexander Daigle, Stephane Richer and Claude Lemieux have been mentioned.

The fact that all 3 of these players are right wingers is no accident. The Habs’ current roster holds only 3 players with tangible NHL experience who shoot right-handed. Which creates a problem among the team’s right wingers. Why is it important for a right winger to shoot right? For 2 reasons; First, it facilitates the transition game. Especially in the defensive zone, where the transition is essential. Not only in clearing your own zone, but in creating offensive rushes. Second, it reduces the likelihood of a turnover in the defensive zone.

How does a right winger on right wing, or a left winger on left wing help? Simple, a right winger on the right side can receive a pass from his defenseman on his forehand. Which is a much easier play to make than a pass on the backhand. Having received the pass on his forehand the forward is now in a much better position to make that all-important outlet pass to one of his linemates, or to bang the puck off the boards in order to clear his own zone. A left-handed shot on the right wing would be forced by a pinching defenseman to bang the puck off the boards using his backhand. This makes it difficult for the forward to make this play with any kind of power or precision.
Why then do some players who shoot left play right wing? For offensive purposes. Although a player playing on his off-wing is at a disadvantage in the defensive zone. He is actually at an advantage n the offensive zone. A left handed shooter who is skating down the right side just inside the blueline has a better angle for a shot than he would have on the left side. This is because he is carrying the puck closer to mid-ice, thereby giving him more net to shoot at.

This said, Claude Lemieux seems to have priced himself out of contention. Thereby leaving Daigle and Richer. Although Daigle is cheaper, and younger then Richer, he is o a left-handed shot. Richer on the other hand shoots right. Daigle had 26 points in 58 games with the Rangers last year. While Richer had 37 points in 56 games with Tampa Bay and St. Louis. Daigle made $600,000 last year, while Richer must be expecting some sort cut from the $1.6M he made last year. Richer though, in no way helps the team in regards to its’ 3 year plan. Daigle is currently 25 years old, and would thereby be 28, and possibly in his prime( However bad that prime may be) by the end of Houle’s 3 year plan.

The questions are easy to ask. The answers are a little more difficult. Canadiens’ fans just hope that the teams’ new managerial team can find the answers. Because hopefully along with the answers might come a little success.