The team from Montreal has been on a spectacular run these past two seasons. The last campaign saw them finish with a most respectable 100 points, which was second to only the New York Rangers in the entire National Hockey League. The only real disappointment came in their second round defeat in the playoffs at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who themselves racked up a most respectable 108 points. This scenario paints a picture that good is not simply good enough when trying to compete in the ultra competitive higher ends of the NHL. You must be great, and to do that the focus must be on the off season. While there is not much room for improvement that can be seen in terms of shoring up the Canadiens roster, there are certainly some areas that can strengthen their chances when the playoffs next come around in 2016.
Graphic via theoilersrig
The first two months of the offseason to this point have seen some worthy moves. The process began in early June when the team was able to agree to terms with defenseman Jeff Petry. The deal is long term, set at six-years, so this is welcome news for the blue line moving into the future. Moving into mid-June saw the signings of defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and Torrey Mitchell. Each got two and three years respectively, so this gives some stability up front. Ending the month of June saw the Canadiens finally agree to new terms with Brian Flynn when he also signed a two-year contract. This left two major players on the team that still needed new contracts, and those were ironed out by mid-July. On the 14th, the team came to terms on a one-year contract with forward Michael Bournival, and then on the 15th with defenseman Jarred Tinordi. In early July the team decided to make some room on the roster and traded away Brandon Prust to Vancouver. In exchange, they picked up right-winger Zack Kassian and a fifth round draft pick in the next years draft.
On the whole, the Canadiens are posed to repeat as contenders next season. The remaining question mark continues to be their offense. Their defense is solid, but the club has been known to struggle to score goals for games at a time. They do, however, have some notable players that are on the rise and should continue to improve. This includes Max Pacioretty, who will certainly be back. He has become one of the most prolific scorers in the NHL, in addition to being quite versatile all over the ice. Couple this with the likes of Tomas Plekanec, Alex Galchenyuk, and Brendan Gallagher, the offensive future may indeed be bright. Between those players just mentioned, the Canadiens sit near the top of the statistics table in many offensive categories. All they need is a bit more consistency, possibly more time together, and the goals will come. We will see come October.
Graphic via canadiens.nhl