With a rather significant exodus of depth forwards in the Montreal Canadiens organization, general manager Marc Bergevin dipped into the free-agency market to sign Chris Terry. Terry is a talented forward who has found offensive success in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers, but also moderate success with the Carolina Hurricanes last season, playing north of 60 games with the club.
He projects to play an important role for the St. John’s IceCaps, leading the offence on their top line, replacing Bud Holloway who returned to Europe after a single season in the Canadiens organization.
We reached out to Craig Johnson of our SB Nation sister site Canes Country to find out more about the recent acquisition.
EOTP: What was Terry's role on the Hurricanes/Checkers? Where is Terry best suited in the lineup?
CC: Chris Terry didn’t really have a well-defined role with the Hurricanes. He played all up and down the lineup to varying degrees of success. As one of the resident Terry fans, my view may be a bit slanted, but my feeling is that he is best utilized in a secondary scorer’s role, ideally on the third line. On the Checkers he was a primary scorer usually playing on the first or second line. In the four seasons from 2010-2014 he averaged better than 20 goals and 60 points per season in the AHL.
There was significant hope that he would continue this scoring prowess at the NHL level. Alas, that never materialized. In the end, this past season found Terry playing at least half of his games on the fourth line. He did okay in that role, but it is not one he is well suited for. A happy by-product of that time is that he developed a little bit more physicality, almost doubling his number of hits and increasing his hits per game from .77 to 1.2.
Personally, I think he’s the perfect third-line, secondary scorer. He plays adequate defence, has added a bit of an edge to his game this past season, and can flat out finish.
What are his strengths/weaknesses? What can we expect in terms of production?
Terry is a very good “teammate” and seems to get along well with all linemates. He’s a solid passer and an adequate defender. He also thinks the game fairly well. However, his stock in trade is his laser-accurate wrist shot, which he can get off quickly and in tight places.
That said, he’s a bit of a one-trick pony in that regard. He doesn’t really create chances by himself. Good at offensive positioning and finding open, soft spots in the defence, he needs a good distributor on his line to put up solid scoring numbers. He’s a pretty good option in the shootout and has produced there.
His single largest weakness is his skating. While it has improved dramatically over the last three or four seasons, it started from such a low point that he is now merely a low-average skater.
In general he’s a nice complementary player, but one who is a dime a dozen in the NHL … and this from a true Terry fan.
In terms of production, I think he can be a 10-goal, 25-point guy at the low end or a 15-goal, 35-point player at the high end. I just wouldn’t bank on the high end happening.
Where is he in terms of his development? Has he reached his full potential?
This is an interesting question as he has continued to add facets to his game nearly every year. His skating was at one time best described as “atrocious.” Now, it is at the bottom tier of “adequate,” which shows a lot of hard work on his part.
Last season he added more physicality to his game, something dictated by his time on the fourth line. As previously stated, if he can be put on a line with a good distributor and a solid net-front presence guy, he can provide a nice bit of secondary scoring. I don’t see him developing into a guy who makes opportunities out of situations where they are not self-evident.
While it is unclear as to whether that’s “full potential” or not, he is a smart player and can likely improve on those things at which he’s already adept. Adding new tricks is unlikely.
Keep in mind, I’m a guy that thought he could put up 35 to 40 points last year and I whiffed big time on that. Still, with his shot, he could, and should, carve out a role. It is to be seen if he can do that on the Habs.
Big thanks to Craig from Canes Country for taking the time to answer these questions.