The EOTP staff predicts the 2017-18 Canadiens season

We’ll probably be wrong, but what if we’re right?

Brad Simpson: Montreal will mostly do well, be competitive. Have one lull during the season but recover from it. At the trade deadline, Marc Bergevin will acquire past-their-prime gritty "character" guys. Montreal will make the playoffs and get eliminated in the first or second round. Also, Alex Galchenyuk gets traded, Habs do not get full value in return and Chucky turns into a 30+ goal beast somewhere else.

Shannon Leah: Artturi Lehkonen and Charles Hudon have breakout years, Tomas Plekanec rebounds as well with them on his wing. Most consistent line of the season.

Charlie Lindgren comes up at some point. I have a feeling we see an injury and/or they want to give him another look.

Jonathan Drouin makes a huge impact on first line, specifically for Brendan Gallagher. Some additional speed and creativity will help him after a rough season.

Finally, YES of course we make the playoffs.

Julian McKenzie:

Tampa Bay

Alex Galchenyuk won’t end the season as a Hab and Jonathan Drouin will lead the team in scoring with 76 points. Marc Bergevin will say to expect the unexpected, fans will expect the Canadiens will land Matt Duchene, doesn’t happen.

Victor Mete plays beyond the nine-game threshold, gets 20 points in rookie season.

Patrik Bexell: Scott Matla’s “Hudon Hype Train” is real and this means that the youngsters Charles Hudon and Artturi Lehkonen will draw the older Tomas Plekanec to a great season (in a contract year no less).

Montreal will make the playoffs as the second team in the Atlantic (behind Tampa Bay). Alex Galchenyuk gets 30+ goals over the season.

David St-Louis:  Jonathan Drouin becomes a true centre for the Habs. Ales Hemsky has a rough start to the season, but moves up in the lineup and manages more than 30 pts. Jakub Jerabek is called up early in the season and gets a chance to play with Shea Weber. Due to injuries, Jacob de la Rose centres a line in the top 9 and looks very good paired with skilled line-mates.

Nathan Ni: Brendan Gallagher realizes that there’s more ways to play hockey than crease-crashing and rebounds with a 15+ goal season... or doesn’t, and struggles to make an offensive impact.

Alex Galchenyuk scores at least 25, Charles Hudon pots 15. Matt Duchene doesn’t come to Montreal. Mark Streit won’t last the season. Montreal finishes within the top two of the Atlantic Division.

Ian Murray: Ales Hemsky bounces back, playing nearly a full slate and helping to cement Montreal’s fourth line as one of the league’s best.

Artturi Lehkonen takes a step forward as well, posting his first career 20-goal campaign.

Claude Julien implements a sustainable power play strategy, helping to push the Habs’ success rate into the NHL’s top-10 (without relying exclusively on Shea Weber’s cannon) and the Canadiens to the Atlantic Division title.

Scott Matla: Looking at the team they're going to battle for the division crown once again, as the reports of the teams demise have been greatly exaggerated. With Charles Hudon and Artturi Lehkonen on his wings the wily vet Tomas Plekanec will return back to decent form, and provide a much needed boost to the offence.

While I don't see him topping 20 goals again, the Lord, Paul Byron should once again pot a bakers dozen or so and lead a new look fourth line for Claude Julien.

I also predict that hopefully Victor Mete gets a better nickname than "Meat", and Hudon is 100% going to get Calder attention this year and no I'm totally not biased

Jared Book: This Canadiens team will not be as bad as everybody says they will be. They will finish ahead of Toronto and won’t be a Wild Card team.

Charles Hudon will be this season’s Artturi Lehkonen. He will get better as the season comes around and by April, we couldn’t picture this lineup without him.

It would not surprise me to see Victor Mete spend the entire season with Montreal, but I’m not quite ready to predict it will happen yet.

My “bold” prediction? Wouldn’t shock me to see the Habs, Rocket and Canadiennes all win their respective divisions this season.

Aruny Siv: This team will live and die with what Coach Julien can do with Montreal’s defence. Carey Price will continue to be Carey Price, Karl Alzner won’t be much of an improvement on Alexei Emelin and Jonathan Drouin might not end up being the centre the fanbase expects of him – but he’ll have a great season nonetheless.

Charles Hudon will be nominated for the Calder and Shea Weber will be nominated for the Norris. If things go south, Pacioretty will end up taking more heat than usual (cue all the takes about how he should be stripped of his captaincy), and expect to see Alex Galchenyuk in different jersey by season’s end.

Oh, and there will a plethora of new faces come playoff time, because there can never be too many fourth liners on this team at one time.

Speaking of the postseason, learning from last year that ending up first in the division may not be in their best interest, Montreal will finish a close 2nd to the Tampa Bay Lightning (letting Stamkos and co. fight a war of attrition with whatever team the Metro spits out).

Meanwhile, the Canadiens will comfortably cruise into the third round (dashing the dreams of hockey fans in either Leafs land or Sens land in the process) before bowing out against the Washington Capitals. And depending on the success of a certain mustard-coloured team out West, debates will reignite over whether now would be the most appropriate time for the team to part ways with the current GM – ones that will only cease next pre-season.

Andrew Zadarnowski: The Montreal Canadiens will have an exciting season, with numerous offensive options. Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Drouin will go through periods of struggle together as teams put their best defenders against their line, but will ultimately form an exciting offensive threat for the Canadiens.

With Drouin, Pacioretty will finally hit the 40 goal plateau. The team elder, Tomas Plekanec, will have an honourable final season with the Canadiens, rejuvenated by youngsters Hudon and Lehkonen, but he will eventually drop in usage. It is possible that Phillip Danault, at least, passes him in the centreman depth chart. Expect Michael McCarron to return to the Canadiens, hungrier and angrier.

On defence, the loss of Andrei Markov will be felt, as Weber juggles defensive partners. The answer will not come in the form of a trade, but from selecting the best option from what's available. Karl Alzner will see time with Weber. In terms of third pairing, Brett Lernout will make a big leap this year, possibly even finishing the season with the Canadiens as the team tweaks their personnel in time for the playoffs.

The Canadiens will not be spared of injury unfortunately, but thankfully not to any of their core players. The Canadiens will tap into their depth in Laval to fill some holes due to injury, and the replacement players will surprise some. Daniel Audette will make his NHL debut this season. Carey Price, among the best goaltenders in the league, will set another mark, by scoring an empty net goal at some point during the season.

The team will make the playoffs, at which point anything is possible.

Jennifer B. Cutler: The Habs will in tough to repeat as Atlantic division champs but should still finish second or third in the division. I expect Pacioretty to flirt with finally breaking the 40 goal barrier and that Drouin will lead the team in points. Gallagher will bounce back and reach 20 goals again while Plekanec will be rejuvenated playing with the likes of Lehkonen and Hudon. Jerabek will finish the season as part of the Canadiens top 4. Price will be Price and earn his second consecutive Vezina nomination. Mete will eventually be returned to junior and star for Canada at the World Juniors. Under Julien, the Habs power play and penalty kill will both finish in the top ten.

Juan Morales: Montreal surprises everyone by capturing another division title, led by two dynamic scorers in Galchenyuk and Drouin, who both score 60-70 points after being joined together on a stacked top line alongside Max Pacioretty, who might finally break the 40 goal barrier. Charles Hudon has a successful campaign, and quietly enters the Calder conversation. Price is fantastic as always, and is yet again a Vezina finalist.

What are some of your predictions? Leave them in the comments!

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