News and Notes from Hab-land

By Chris Boucher
The Montréal Canadiens have made huge steps toward shoring up the team’s overall depth in each of the last two off-seasons. They’ve gone from a team without enough NHL talent, to an organization with few potential openings for prospects. As much as depth is a necessary and important aspect of a successful NHL team, it can also be a roadblock toward developing future NHL talent.

Adding to the developmental problems is the current AHL situation. Sharing an AHL franchise for one season may not seem like much of a problem, however the timing of this particular transitional season is difficult to understand. The Habs’ are currently enjoying a huge influx of solid talent into their professional ranks.

Players such as Josef Balej, Tomas Plekanec, Mike Komisarek and Christian Larrivée will be among over 40 skaters vying for 18 game-day jerseys in the NHL, and now only 9 game-day spots in the AHL. Taking into account injuries and healthy scratches, that could leave as many as ten players looking for roster spots somewhere outside the organization. Granted that some of the remaining players are no better than ECHL or even CHL talent, that still leaves management looking to farm out some quality talent.


Komisarek signs

-The Montréal Canadiens finally got their man when they recently signed Mike Komisarek to a 3-year contract. Komisarek is a huge defenseman with plus mobility, but will have his work cut out if he’s to start the season among the Habs’ top-6 defensemen. The right side isn’t as deep in numbers as the left, but the top-3 right-handers have more talent. Unless Komisarek has an incredibly impressive training camp, look for the 20-year-old to start the season with Hamilton.


Tough Nut to Crack

-The addition of Randy Mckay establishes the team with a solid dearth of talent on right wing. Starting the season with Donald Audette, Mariusz Czerkawski and recently signed Andreas Dackell will allow both Oleg Petrov and Richard Zednick to move over to the left side. This should help the team in the defensive zone, where it will allow wingers to start the defense-to-offense transition on their natural side.

This increased depth also locks in the team’s potential top-10 forwards. In addition to the previously mentioned four right wingers, the top-3 lines should also consist of an arrangement of Zednick, Petrov and Chad Kilger on left wing. Saku Koivu and Yanic Perreault will pivot the two scoring lines, leaving Joé Juneau to center the checking line. Doug Gilmour’s return would shore up a weak middle, and bring the number of locked-up forward positions up to 11.

Obviously any potential trades would affect the number of available spots, but as of now any prospects looking to crack the lineup will have to enjoy a spectacular training camp. Among those players trying to grab that one remaining spot on the left side are Yan Bulis, Gino Odjick, Bill Lindsay, Marcel Hossa, Mike Ribeiro, Eric Chouinard and natural center, but versatile forward Tomas Plekanec.


Hab you heard?

Alexander Buturlin, Montreal’s 2nd round pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft was transferred from Salavat Yulayev to Lada Togliatti on July 13th. Buturlin will continue to play in the Russian Super League. The new scenery seems to have lit a fire under the 20-year-old’s game. He scored 1 goal and added an assist in his first pre-season game with his new club, and went on to post the tournament’s top offensive numbers with 5 goals and 2 assists in 5 games. His offensive outburst also allowed the winger to be named the tournament’s top player.

Vadim Tarasov competed in the same tournament as a member of Metalurgist Novokuznetsk. The 25-year-old played in parts of three games, before suffering an undisclosed neck injury. Over the course of the tournament he was credited with 1 loss, while posting a 4.28 goals against average.

Alexander Perezhogin is currently playing a preseason tournament with Omsk. The tournament is taking place in the Czech Republic. Through two games the soon-to-be 19-year-old has scored 1 goal.

Feel free to E-MAIL me with any questions or comments (in English or French). Just click on my name at the top of this page to contact me. I am a former goaltender with writing, scouting, and coaching experience.

**Click on the Canadiens’ logo at the top left of the page to see a listing of the Habs’ top prospects. Including biographical information and updated 2001-02 stats.