Over the next past few weeks, Die By The Blade staffers have taken an in-depth look at each of the other teams in the Atlantic Division as the Buffalo Sabres prepare for the 2021-22 season.
Next up: the Montreal Canadiens.
Last Season’s Results: 24-21-11 (59 points) in the Scotia North Division.
Key Offseason Acquisitions: F Christian Dvorak, D David Savard, F Mike Hoffman, G Samuel Montembeault
Key Offseason Losses: F Phillip Danault, F Tomas Tatar, F Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Season Outlook: What a 2020-21 NHL season for the Montreal Canadiens, no real other way to put it.
Montreal edged out the Calgary Flames by four point for the final playoff spot in the Scotia North Division.
The Canadiens then turned on the jets and shocked the hockey world, game after game.
Montreal fought as much as they could but Tampa Bay would not be denied their chance at making history, becoming back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions.
Following the heartbreaking loss to Tampa Bay, the page would need to be turned to the offseason very quickly. An expansion draft forced Montreal to make some very surprising and tough decisions, including asking and receiving permission from goaltender Carey Price to waive his no-move clause expose him to the expansion Seattle Kraken.
Montreal’s offseason only got crazier from there.
The franchise’s white-hot feud with the Carolina Hurricanes continued in earnest, when the Hurricanes signed restricted free agent Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet. After a few days of back-and-forth, Montreal declined the option to match and subsequently received Carolina’s 2022 first-round and 2022 third-round picks in return.
The ink on Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet was still drying when Montreal pulled the trigger on one of the bigger trades of the offseason, acquiring forward Christian Dvorak.
The Canadiens will certainly look different this season, starting in goal. Longtime goaltender Carey Price failed his physical this offseason due to a knee injury and subsequently entered the league’s Player Assistance Program. With no timetable set for Price to return, Jake Allen reportedly will be the Opening Night starter and Samuel Montembeault will back Allen up.
Montreal’s young offense, led by Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, will benefit from Tyler Toffoli’s veteran presence, the return of Jonathan Drouin and the addition of Christian Dvorak.
With all the changes that Montreal has undergone, it remains hard to say whether or not they can recreate last season’s magic but that is why they play the games.
Games vs. Buffalo: Thursday, October 14 (at KeyBank Center)
Friday, November 26 (at KeyBank Center)
Saturday, January 8 (in Montreal)
Tuesday, April 26 (in Montreal)