After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Montreal Canadiens:
The Montreal Canadiens missed out on their big offseason target, restricted free agent forward Sebastian Aho, but believe they are on the right track to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
Montreal signed Aho to a five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet July 1. The Carolina Hurricanes matched the offer six days later.
"It's a tough league," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said. "Anything's possible. It doesn't mean because you got a player that you're going to be in the playoffs right away. There's 82 games you've got to battle through and you have to make it."
[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]
The Canadiens, who finished two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference last season, did sign goalie Keith Kinkaid to a one-year contract July 1, defenseman Ben Chiarot to a three-year contract July 4, and forward Nick Cousins to a one-year contract July 5.
Here is what the Canadiens look like today:
Ben Chiarot, D: The 28-year-old was paired with Dustin Byfuglien for much of last season with the Winnipeg Jets and had an NHL career-high 20 points (five goals, 15 assists). Chiarot was second on the Jets with 139 blocks and third with 171 hits. … Nick Cousins, F: The 25-year-old had an NHL career-high 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 81 games with the Arizona Coyotes last season. … Keith Kinkaid, G: The 30-year-old was 15-18-6 with a 3.36 goals-against average and .891 save percentage in 41 games with the New Jersey Devils last season. He was acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 25 but did not play a game for them.
Video: CAR@NJD: Kinkaid shuts down Aho, rebound chances
Andrew Shaw, F: A popular player with the Canadiens, Shaw was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks with a seventh-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft on June 30 for a second-round and a seventh-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2021 draft. He had an NHL career-high 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) in 63 games last season. … Jordie Benn, D: He signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1 after he had an NHL career-high 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) and was plus-15 in 81 games last season. … Nicolas Deslauriers, F: He was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft on June 30. Deslauriers scored 10 goals in 58 games with Montreal in 2017-18 but had five points (two goals, three assists) in 48 games last season. … Antti Niemi, G: He was not offered a contract after going 8-6-2 with a 3.78 GAA and .887 save percentage last season and signed with Jokerit of the Kontinental Hockey League on June 6.
On the cusp
Ryan Poehling, F: A first-round pick (No. 25) by the Canadiens in the 2017 NHL Draft, Poehling had a hat trick and scored the shootout winner in his NHL debut in Montreal's regular-season finale last season. The 20-year-old had 31 points (eight goals, 23 assists) as a junior for St. Cloud State University and was named MVP of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship with eight points (five goals, three assists) in seven games for the United States. … Nick Suzuki, F: Acquired as part of a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights for forward Max Pacioretty on Sept. 9, the 19-year-old will have every opportunity to stand out in training camp after he had 94 points (34 goals, 60 assists) in 59 games for Guelph and Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League. A first-round pick (No. 13) by Vegas in the 2017 draft, Suzuki led the OHL with 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) in 24 playoff games to help Guelph win the championship. … Josh Brook, D: Selected by Montreal in the second round (No. 56) of the 2017 draft, the 20-year-old had 75 points (16 goals, 59 assists) in 59 games with Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League last season. He had one assist in seven games with Laval of the American Hockey League.
Video: TOR@MTL: Poehling nets hatty, SO winner in NHL debut
What they still need
Production on the power play. The Canadiens ranked 30th with the man-advantage at 13.2 percent last season, ahead of only the Nashville Predators (12.9 percent). Little has been added to the mix to boost that production, so the onus remains on Shea Weber, Jonathan Drouin, Max Domi and Brendan Gallagher to figure out a solution.
Big names like goalie Carey Price and Weber usually garner the most attention from the Canadiens in fantasy drafts, but Gallagher was quietly their most valuable fantasy player last season. He had NHL career highs in goals (33) and shots on goal (302) and averaged 1.5 hits per game (totaling 126). He's capable of better power-play production (seven power-play points last season; NHL career-high 17 PPP in 2017-18) and is always a safe option outside the top 100 overall. -- Pete Jensen
Video: MTL@LAK: Gallagher records 30th goal on deflection
Tomas Tatar -- Phillip Danault -- Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin -- Max Domi -- Paul Byron
Artturi Lehkonen -- Jesperi Kotkaniemi -- Joel Armia
Nick Cousins -- Nate Thompson -- Jordan Weal
Victor Mete -- Shea Weber
Ben Chiarot -- Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak -- Noah Juulsen
Listen: NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast