Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's Time for Weber, Pacioretty

The Habs' powerplay needs a shake-up.

Going from 3rd in the league in 07-08 (24.1% on the PP) to 22nd this season (18.6% on the PP) is unacceptable.

While the offensive presence of Mark Streit is missed, the Habs still own some talented offensive defenseman to fill the void. At the moment, however, experiments in the form of Alex Tanguay continue to fail. Tanguay belongs upfront with the likes of Saku Koivu and Alexei Kovalev, not on the blue-line with Andrei Markov.

Considering the Habs are experimenting anyway, why not call-up Yannick Weber and Max Pacioretty?

While Weber has only garnered 2 goals and 7 points in 19 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs, the 5-10, 195 pound offensive defenseman was impressive during the NHL preseason.

Weber, 20, has been establishing himself as top-tier Canadiens prospect ever since his performance for the OHL's Kitcher Rangers (59GP, 20G, 35A, 55PTS, 79PIM) and for the Swiss' WJC club (6GP, 2G, 4A, 6PTS).

Weber's skill set makes him most effective on the PP. The 73rd overall pick for the Canadiens has great hockey sense, allowing him to find holes on the mad advantage. He also possesses a big shot, a quality the Habs have been lacking on the back-end.

That said, Weber's age can potentially hold him back. If his game is not developed at an NHL level, then the Canadiens can send him back down and no harm is done -- sending them right back to square one.

Upfront, the Habs are loaded with skilled forwards, the only problem, however, is the majority of them are small in stature. In come Max Pacioretty, age 20, and his 6-1, 205 lbs. frame to save the day.

Pacioretty, drafted 22nd overall in 2007, is your prototypical powerforward. He'll produce points and wreak havoc for the opposing goaltender.

Pacioretty is exactly what the Habs are lacking -- a big body upfront that can screen the goalie and sacrifice his body to make a play. While young, he displayed a tremendous amount of maturity and poise during his preseason stint with the Canadiens.

Like Weber, he's worth the experiment. If it fails, then the Canadiens are right back to where they started.

Whatever the case, something must be done if the Habs wish to find success on the PP again. If Bob Gainey has to explore the trade route, then so be it.

Ignoring the issue will give the fans a fairly non-eventful 100th anniversary -- unless you consider taking over the all-star ballot an accomplishment.

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