2013 started out great for player 31, who was an early candidate for the Vezina Trophy. His play began to diminish as the season unfolded, culminating in an impressive collapse after the Habs clinched a playoff spot. 31 had one good game in the playoffs, which was more disappointing than his late season play. There is a bright future ahead for this roster, but they are going to need strong goaltending to make it happen. Defenseman player 74 has proved his value with his physical play, but he's now out for the next 6 months after ACL surgery.
The most troubling aspect of the Habs success this season is my steadfast belief that Michel Therien is a terrible coach. The fact that his name was mentioned in Jack Adams conversations caused me physical discomfort, but I was very pleased to see that he was not nominated. It was not until the Habs hasty retreat from the playoffs that some of the shine started to come off Therien, as he personally led this team straight into a meltdown against a lower ranked opponent. He lacked composure, and it filtered down to his players. The fat, bug-eyed, walrus got the better of them.
Preseason Rank: 28
Midseason Rank: 3
Final Rank: 3
GM Grade: B+
1st Star: Player 76
2nd Star: Player 67
3rd Star: Player 14
UFAs: Michael Ryder, Colby Armstrong, Jeff Halpern, P. Nokelainen, Davis Drewiske
RFAs: Ryan White, Mike Blunden, Gabriel Dumont, Yannick Weber,
Best Contract: Player 76: 1 more year at $2.9M
Worst Contract: Player 31: 5 more years at $6.5M
What I said about them in preseason: Some say "accelerated compliance buyout" others say the "Scott Gomez rule". Scotty is gone, this team will compete for a playoff spot until the end of the regular season, but they will fall short.
The future is brighter for Montreal than many other teams in their position. Marc Bergevin's first season as GM proved to be very strong, especially getting player 76 to agree to a low ball contract, only to see him nominated for the Norris Trophy. The double edged sword being that 76 will probably demand a $6-$7M annual deal in 2014 when Montreal could have locked him up to a 5 year deal at $5M. They will return next season with mostly the same line-up from 2013; hopefully with player 81 will be healthy and ready to go and player 61 being a little bit more careful with his blind passes.