*Regular Season Finish: 8th in Eastern Conference’*Postseason Finish: Eliminated in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals’
Montreal has been one of the most active teams in the 2009 offseason, basically re-shaping a significant portion of their entire lineup. After being quickly knocked out of the 2009 postseason by their nemesis, the Boston Bruins, GM Bob Gainey decided it was time for the Canadiens to take on an entirely new look. >
The Habs had a large number of unrestricted free agents in 2009, many of whom had been prominent members of the organization for some time. Saku Koivu was not offered a new contract, ending his ten year term as team captain. Also departing the squad were forwards Chris Higgins and Alexei Kovalev, as well as promising young defenseman Ryan Mcdonagh. Alex Tanguay also appears headed for new territory, as the Canadiens have been shopping him around the league. Finally, the Habs also lost All-Star defenseman Mike Komisarek, who signed with, of all teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Surprisingly, despite losing 3 of their top 5 point scorers and their most physical defenseman, the Canadiens still feel as if they have improved their roster. Brian Gionta was signed and re-united with former linemate Scott Gomez. High scoring forward Mike Cammalleri was added to the mix, and will most likely start the season across from Gionta with Gomez in the middle, giving the Canadiens a fast and potent, if diminutive, first line. Roleplayers Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche were also signed.
On defense, the Habs added big Hal Gill, fresh off his run for the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009. Gill has proven he is a valuable asset as a physical presence in his own zone, as well as a solid penalty killer. In addition, Montreal signed veteran defensemen Jaroslav Spacek and Paul Mara, giving them a pretty solid defensive corps from top-to-bottom.
While the new Habs are certainly a much different team than was iced in 2008-09, it will be interesting to see how the team meshes. Different is not always better, but Bob Gainey and Canadiens fans will definitely be hoping for some better results in 2009-10.