Well, the New Jersey Devils just handed the Montreal Canadiens their sixth straight loss. Something is rotten in the province of Quebec, and there is no sign of a quick turnaround at this stage. Perhaps their best opportunity to turn the corner came last night, and they absolutely booted it. Hard times in Montreal.
It begs the question; would the Habs be better off to tank for Alexis Lafrenière?
It is still early, so it isn’t out of the question that they could still come back. You look at what the St. Louis Blues did last year — and the success that Montreal has enjoyed at times against elite teams this year — anything is possible. But if Marc Bergevin and co. don’t think they can execute a run at least close to what the Blues pulled off, why not go after a kid who is almost universally agreed to have franchise-altering potential?
The way I look at it, they can fire Luke Richardson for the defensive woes, and try to make improvements to the team. Seek a significant upgrade at left defense, as well as some firepower up front by sacrificing some prospects and picks; I suggested as much with respect to Taylor Hall recently. But upgrades cost, and of late it feels like liquidating assets to fill the holes in the Habs’ boat is tantamount to burning money.
And if you’re not in the burning money business, the sensible decision could be to blow everything up and hope for the generational talent.
I have said plenty against Bergevin throughout his tenure, but I honestly do not envy his position here. There were flashes of a legitimately good team this season, so there must exist some temptation to go for broke. You blow it up, the franchise will get a great player, but you might not make it to draft day as the general manager.
I couldn’t make that call right now. As much as I’d like the Habs to compete, I don’t know if they can, and Lafrenière looks like a special player. The thing is, if they’re going to tank, they have to tank really hard to earn the worthwhile shot at getting him.
And even then, nothing is guaranteed in the lottery. Marc Bergevin doesn’t have an enviable decision to make, but he needs to make one soon.