With a short training camp and the team's top skater in a contract dispute there are plenty of unanswered questions out there for the Habs' lineup. Here is my top 5:
1. Will the top 4 hold up in Subban's absence?
With the team's number one defender still without a contract, the Habs' blueline looks precarious.
Are the expected pairings. No question Old Markov can carry a first pairing with a lesser partner (see Komisarek, Mike; O'Byrne, Ryan). Can New Markov manage anything close to the same. On the other hand,, is Emelin ready to step up to be the 2nd pairing defenseman he clearly has the talent to be?
On the other top 4 pairing we have one of the league's better pure defensive defensemen in Josh Gorges paired with Kaberle. Kaberle is still terrific at moving the puck but horrific at defending in his zone and retrieving the puck. Will the two compensate for eachothers weaknesses and be effective?
2. How will the top power play pairing work out?
Markov and Kaberle are both historically elite power play defensemen. But both are also primarily play-makers rather than shooters. Will they have any chemistry as a top unit with the man-advantage?
3. Who plays top unit power play on forward?
The team has been practising with two playmaking centers (Plekanec/Desharnais) and 3 winger pairs on the power play.
One of the 3 pairs is necessarily going to sit.
4. How good is the PK without P.K.?
Subban was the team's most effective penalty killing defender over the past two years and the squad no longer has Hal Gill to take big minutes there. Right now they have one top killer in Gorges and a lot of question marks after him.
5. How good is Galchenyuk?
Galchenyuk dominated the OHL with a 1.84 points per game average, a number normally only seen by 1st/2nd overall draft picks (Hall, Stamkos, Tavares) and 19 year old veterans in their final season. His NHLE projects to be a .25+ goals per game and .5+ points per game forward, essentially Andrei Kostitsyn totals. But he'll only accomplish that if he manages the transition from junior to NHL reasonably well. Can the kid manage that? Can he beat that?