BROSSARD - Marc Bergevin fielded questions from reporters via Zoom on Monday from the Bell Sports Complex.
It was an opportunity for the Canadiens' general manager to share his thoughts on a variety of topics with 15 games in the books.
Here are a few highlights from the chat:
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While the Habs are coming off an important win over the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, they've certainly struggled of late. Bergevin was asked to evaluate his team's play recently, specifically over the last five games:
We started the season well, but the other teams always find ways to adapt. Sometimes, you get too comfortable and you pay less attention to detail. It's all a part of an NHL season. The last team that didn't face adversity during the regular season over the last few years was Tampa Bay, and they ended up losing in four games to Columbus in the playoffs. They learned lessons from that. You always have to find a way to overcome adversity. I think the Senators have been playing excellent hockey since they returned from Western Canada. They beat the Jets this past weekend. There won't be any easy games. There are periods that are more difficult than others. You have to get out of it. We picked up a big win in Toronto and we're benefiting from a good week of practice now. There's going to be a lot of hockey in the coming months.
Video: Bergevin gives his assessment through 15 games
Bergevin also shared what he believes to be the biggest difference between this edition of the Canadiens and last year's squad:
We have more depth to score goals. Last year, Brendan Gallagher's line was the most productive of the bunch. The distribution of goals is more balanced with Nick, Josh and Jonathan Drouin, who are all playing very good hockey. Eventually, we're definitely going to have some tough stretches again. It's a very competitive League. It's harder and harder to score goals. We have to be patient and score dirty goals like Gally did in Toronto to give us the win.
As far as which players on the roster have impressed him thus far this season, Bergevin singled out several newcomers:
I'd say Josh Anderson. He checked off all the boxes in terms of what I expected from him when I acquired him. I like what he brings, even when he doesn't score. Am I surprised? No, but I'm happy that he's bringing what we expected from him. Tyler Toffoli is a natural scorer. I really like the detail in his game. When you see a player every day, you appreciate him even more. I see exactly what our scouts said about him. I take a lot of pride in seeing both of those players producing the way they are. I think that Joel Edmundson has also brought stability to our defense corps. He's playing well with Jeff Petry. They're among the League leaders in plus-minus differential. Jake Allen has also delivered good performances to help Carey.
Video: Josh Anderson rates things that are blue
The struggles of both Tomas Tatar and Paul Byron came up during the 45-minute Q&A session as well:
For Tomas, Claude has talked to him. We expect more. I understand scoring goals is big, but also there's little details to your game that allow you to score goals. When those details aren't there, it's harder. Tomas is a good pro. I'm not only looking at him in terms of scoring goals, I'm also looking at what else he does when he doesn't score. That's a part of his game that he has to improve. Now we have depth, so it's easier for Claude to make that decision. As far as Pauly, it's a little bit of both. I've talked to Pauly personally and I want more from him. I know when he's at his best what he does. There's also the business side of it with the cap being flat, being able to take a risk that he will clear waivers and give us more cap space, especially in a week where we don't have any games.
With top prospect Cole Caufield tearing up the NCAA, Bergevin was asked about the possibilty of him joining the Canadiens when his season comes to a close:
With respect to the salary cap, it's going to depend on where we're at come the deadline, whenever he's done. There's also the 14-day quarantine. But he's playing really well. Scott Mellanby doesn't live far from Madison, WI, so he's able to drive and watch him play quite a bit, so is Rob Ramage. He has progressed a lot in the last year. Again, it's too early to tell you exactly what the plans are, but expect him to turn pro after this year. Now, where can he play once his season's over? That remains to be seen.
Video: Cole Caufield shares the secret to his shot
The 55-year-old former blueliner also shared his thoughts on whether the upcoming NHL Draft should be delayed since scouting youngsters is especially diffcult this season given the COVID-19 pandemic:
I'd prefer to push the Draft back. We don't really know the players. The OHL should get going in April. Out West, it all depends on the provinces. It's harder and harder. In an ideal world, the Draft would be delayed. That's up to the NHLPA and the NHL, though.