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31 in 31

Inside look at Montreal Canadiens

Drouin, Alzner hope to aid offense, offset loss of Radulov, Markov

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Montreal Canadiens.

The Montreal Canadiens questioned where their offense went in the Stanley Cup Playoffs following a six-game loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round last season.

The Canadiens tried to solve that question by acquiring forward Jonathan Drouin from the Tampa Bay Lightning for their top prospect, defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, on June 15.

"There's obviously that pressure of playing in Montreal, everybody knows that, but for me as a player I think I'd rather have that pressure on myself than some other places," said Drouin, who signed a six-year, $33 million contract ($5.5 million average annual value). "I'm a French-Canadian and I'm going to thrive on that pressure. I like that stuff. I've played at the Bell Centre many times as an away guy, and just to be on the home side is going to be even better."

 

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Montreal also added free agent defenseman Karl Alzner, who left the Washington Capitals and signed a five-year, $23.125 million contract ($4.6 million AAV) on July 1, and gave goalie Carey Price an eight-year, $84 million contract extension ($10.5 million AAV).

"I know when I talked to Karl one of the first questions was, 'Do you think Carey will be here for a long time?' " general manager Marc Bergevin said. "And I said, 'Well, you know, we'll do our best to make sure Carey is.'"

Price, who could have become an unrestricted free agent following this season, said he had no intention of leaving Montreal.

"I have a lot of confidence in [Marc]," Price said. "He's a very savvy GM and I know he's going to find ways to constantly improve our team and to find ways to put a competitive team on the ice. I've never thought about playing anywhere else. It's a great place for me. I have enough experience to deal with anything being a goaltender for the Canadiens can throw at me, so I never really thought about putting on another uniform. I thought it'd be too weird, I guess."

Video: 31 in 31: Montreal Canadiens 2017-18 season preview

Right wing Ales Hemsky signed a one-year, $1 million contract on July 3, leaving the Dallas Stars. Free agent defenseman Mark Streit returned for a second stint with the Canadiens on a one-year, $700,000 contract.

But after failing to come to terms with free agent right wing Alexander Radulov, who signed a five-year contract with the Stars on July 3, the Canadiens were unable to retain veteran defenseman Andrei Markov, 38, who left Montreal after 16 seasons to play in Russia.

"I've been around long enough to know that guys are going to make decisions that's best for their families, and they've got to take care of themselves as well," Price said. "They obviously were two big parts of our team last season."

Neither Hemsky nor Streit will replace what Montreal lost in the departures of Radulov and Markov.

"We'll have to do by committee, I guess," Bergevin said. "I mean, we're not going to start inventing players who are not there. So we'd like to have these guys back, but there's so much you can do."

Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on June 17 and the Canadiens lost defenseman Alexei Emelin to the Vegas Golden Knights, who selected him in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft on June 21.

Bergevin replenished his depth on defense when he acquired defenseman David Schlemko in a trade with Vegas on June 22 and signed free agents Joe Morrow and Matt Taormina on July 1.

"I think whatever we put on the ice, we just need to have the performance of all the players, that's what it comes down to," Price said. "I think we have a lot of the right pieces right now and it's just going to come down to the players responding and playing well next season."

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