After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the Montreal Canadiens:
The Montreal Canadiens weren’t shy about revamping their roster following a surprise appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
They agreed to a four-year contract with free agent forward Tyler Toffoli, a four-time 20-goal scorer in the NHL; traded for forward Josh Anderson, defenseman Joel Edmundson and goalie Jake Allen; and agreed to a six-year extension with forward Brendan Gallagher on Oct. 14 that prevented him from becoming an unrestricted free agent after this season.
“We put a team on the ice that we believe is going to be competing better than it was last year,” general manager Marc Bergevin said. “The backup goalie (behind Carey Price) was important for us. Overall, I think getting a big power forward was important (Anderson is 6-foot-3, 222 pounds). I think some goal scoring was also important, and bringing a defenseman with size and grit (Edmundson is 6-4, 215) that can eat some big minutes was also important.”
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The Canadiens strengthened a roster led by emerging centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi that helped them reach Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Philadelphia Flyers after they finished the regular season with a .500 points percentage (31-31-9). Kotkaniemi scored four goals in 10 postseason games after the 20-year-old scored six in 36 regular-season games and finished the season with Laval of the American Hockey League. Suzuki scored three goals against the Flyers, including two in Game 6, and the 21-year-old tied forward Jonathan Drouin for the Montreal postseason lead with seven points (four goals, three assists).
“Honestly, it’s unbelievable to see the additions we’ve been able to make,” Gallagher said. “Every one of them is going to play a key role on our team, and to be able to have that many pieces is pretty exciting. So when I’m sitting there thinking about where you want to be, you add those pieces on top of what we had as a group and what we were building, you talk about the young talent coming up, it’s pretty exciting right now for anyone around the Montreal Canadiens organization.”
Here is what the Canadiens look like today:
Tyler Toffoli, F: The 28-year-old, who agreed to join Montreal on Oct. 12, scored 44 points (24 goals, 20 assists) in 68 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks last season, including 10 (six goals, four assists) in 10 games after he was traded to Vancouver on Feb. 17. He scored four points (two goals, two assists) in seven postseason games. … Josh Anderson, F: The 26-year-old agreed to a seven-year contract Oct. 8, two days after he was acquired in a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was limited to 26 games last season because of a shoulder injury and did not play in the postseason. … Alexander Romanov, D: The 20-year-old agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract July 13. He had seven assists and was plus-21 in 43 games for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League last season. … Joel Edmundson, D: The 27-year-old agreed to a four-year contract Sept. 16, four days after he was acquired in a trade from the Carolina Hurricanes. He had an NHL career-high 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 68 games last season and scored one goal in four postseason games. … Jake Allen, G: The 30-year-old signed a two-year contract extension Oct. 14 after being acquired in a trade from the St. Louis Blues on Sept. 2 to back up Price. He was 12-6-3 with NHL career-bests in goals-against average (2.15) and save percentage (.927) in 24 games (21 starts) last season. He went 2-1-1 with a 1.89 GAA and a .935 save percentage in five postseason games (four starts).
Max Domi, F: Traded to the Blue Jackets with a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft for Anderson on Oct. 6 and signed a two-year contract with Columbus the next day. He scored 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 71 games last season and had three assists in 10 postseason games.
On the cusp
Jake Evans, F: The 24-year-old agreed to a two-year contract Sept. 23. He played 13 regular-season games and six postseason games for Montreal in 2019-20, when he led Laval with 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 51 games. … Ryan Poehling, F: The 21-year-old could be the third-line center behind Suzuki and Kotkaniemi if he earns a full-time role in the NHL. He scored two points (one goal, one assist) in 27 NHL games and 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 36 AHL games. … Cole Caufield, F: The 19-year-old scored 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 36 games for the University of Wisconsin and will return there in 2020-21.
What they still need
Their power play to improve. The Canadiens were 22nd in the NHL last season at 17.7 percent. They are counting on Suzuki and Kotkaniemi to take on more prominent roles, and for Drouin to build on his strong playoff showing.
Toffoli, Anderson and Allen each has sneaky fantasy appeal. Toffoli has scored at least 23 goals in four of the past six seasons and should have a spot in the top six and potentially on the first power-play unit. Anderson could finish among the top 100 players in the League with his rare category coverage after being one of two players (along with Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin) with at least 25 goals (27) and 200 hits (214) in 2018-19. Allen could have strong peripherals in a backup role to Price. — Rob Reese
Tomas Tatar — Phillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli — Nick Suzuki — Josh Anderson
Jonathan Drouin — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Joel Armia
Paul Byron — Ryan Poehling — Artturi Lehkonen
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Victor Mete — Alexander Romanov