Bartlett: Bergevin, Canadiens still have summer work to do

John Bartlett
7/10/2012 11:21:18 AM
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It's still a few months away before training camp opens, yet there is plenty to talk about in Montreal when it comes to the Canadiens. While Marc Bergevin has been a very busy person the last few weeks, his work might not be done just yet.

Since his appointment as the new General Manager in the first week of May, Bergevin has been busy filling out his management team and coaching staff, while working alongside Trevor Timmins to prepare for the Draft. When it comes to shaping the roster, it would be the July 1 deadline that would offer him the first chance to start putting his stamp on the look of the Canadiens.

So often on July 1, teams have the chance to improve, but must be cautious when it comes to length and financial numbers of the contracts offered, especially at a time when overpaying can be an easy trap to fall into. Make no mistake, the Minnesota Wild for example have improved their team, but at a very high price. While it's exciting now, you have to wonder if their roster will still include their high priced talent 13 years from now. Just ask the Islanders and Canucks how things can change when long term deals look great at the outset.

It was no secret that the Habs needed to increase their team toughness, and Bergevin addressed those needs, but did it by avoiding big contracts and long terms. A smart move considering there is labour uncertainty heading into September.

The acquisitions of Colby Armstrong and Francis Bouillon will add some depth and sandpaper to the line-up, yet both being one-year deals at affordable prices, also allow the flexibility that if things don't work out, they could be moved at the deadline, or worst case, set free at the end of the season. As for Brandon Prust, they have added a much needed physical presence and a different look to their fourth line. While the length is four years, it provides another contract that does not weigh them down, and could always be moved if need be, but if Prust is put in the right role and excels as he did under John Tortorella, then he will quickly become a fan favourite at the Bell Centre.

There is still some work to be done before training camp opens, and it will be an off-season where General Managers will tread carefully not knowing what lies ahead. Yet, there are still several big parts available via the trade route that will act like a domino effect through the league and it will be interesting to see where all the parts land. While the Habs might not be at the top of the active list, look for Bergevin and company to still be in the mix some way or another with an eye on improving their roster even more.

Even if the moves to come aren't necessarily the big splash moves at the moment, they could be moves with a ripple effect, such as addition by subtraction when it comes to some players and contracts.

Whether or not more movement happens, the Canadiens are already a different team than the one that finished the season, and by the looks of early July, one that will be much tougher to play against this year, which is something a lot of Habs fans were calling for.

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