Things were looking good for the Montreal Canadiens in the first part of the shortened 2013 season. After a disappointing 2011-12 campaign, the Canadiens came firing out of the gate in 2013 and rose to the top of the Eastern Conference. All season long the Canadiens remained as one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. When the regular season ended, the Canadiens were the number two seed in the conference. But cracks in the armor were showing towards the end of the season and the inconsistent play of goaltender Carey Price also raised warning flags. The Canadiens exited the playoffs in the first round and left a lot of work to do to try and appease the toughest fan base in hockey.
2013 Stanley Cup Odds: 28/1
Notable Change #1: The acquisition of George Parros.
One player does not instantly make an entire team tougher, but the presence of George Parros in Montreal does help. The Canadiens were beaten up and smacked around by the Ottawa Senators in the playoffs last season before being eliminated by Ottawa. The Canadiens will need to do a lot more than just bring in Parros to make the team tougher, but Parros definitely adds an element to the Canadiens that it has not had in a long time.
Notable Change #2: Signing Daniel Briere.
A lot of Montreal fans have voiced their displeasure at the signing of undersized winger Daniel Briere for a two-year, $8 million contract. But Briere brings a couple of things to the Canadiens that the team does not have. First of all, he is a great leader. He has been a captain or co-captain for the past several years and he is the kind of guy that younger players turn to for leadership. Briere also stands out as an excellent playoff performer. He will give the Canadiens the scoring punch in the playoffs that the team needs desperately.
Notable Change #3: Buying out Tomas Kaberle.
When the Canadiens gave Tomas Kaberle his huge contract, it raised eyebrows around the NHL. Kaberle was scheduled to make around $4.5 million for the 2013-14 season. That would almost be worth it for a defenseman if that defenseman scored goals or played solid defense. But Kaberle did neither. He was never known as a goal scorer and he spent most of the 2012-13 abbreviated season in the press box. Kaberle only played 10 games last season, and he was never injured. When a team decides to make a defenseman a healthy scratch that often, then the smartest move is to buy him out and apply the cap space somewhere else. That is exactly what the Canadiens did, and it wound up being a significant and important move to Montreal’s offseason.
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