Sunday, 16 June 2013

Jonathan Huberdeau wins the Calder Trophy. Could Alex Galchenyuk have won it with more ice time?

With Jonathan Huberdeau winning the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, some Canadiens fans question whether Alex Galchenyuk could have been the recipient if he'd been given as much ice time as the Panthers rookie.  I think it's possible, but I commend Coach Therrien and his assistants for his handling of his rookie.  It would have been easy to start riding the big lad when the offence stalled and injuries mounted at the end of the season.  They could have tried to squeeze out an extra goal or two from him, at the risk of killing the Golden Goose.

Conversely, it would have been just as easy to bench him or scratch him from the lineup for a few games when he went through his drought past the halfway mark of the season.  While that wouldn't have been a disaster, as Alex seems like he has his head screwed on straight, and has a good support network with his coach-father, and his mom and sis living with him, the Canadiens opted to let him learn by playing through his drought, working his way out of it, instead of observing from the press box.

Instead of messing with his icetime, the coaches stuck to the plan, they gave him manageable minutes in controlled situations, keeping him hungry, never putting him in over his head, and kept his development as the primordial goal when doling out minutes.  Long-term thinking, for once, something we've been in short supply of lately.  As long as the kid worked hard, and he never stopped, even when the production tailed off, he was busting his butt, he was encouraged and cajoled, and it will pay off down the road, more than any trophy would have.

Jonathan Huberdeau was in a different situation entirely.  His coach and GM could give him as much or as little ice time as they wanted, based on the situation.  There was no pressure to achieve results in the standing and playoffs. He also was a year older, and thus had played a full two seasons more of hockey than Alex, who lost one season due to injury.  That extra maturity meant that Mr. Huberdeau could be treated as the more 'ready' player he was, especially when considering the comparative lack of quality forwards in Florida.

Coach Therrien had a playoff run to worry about, while thinking about his rookie's ice time.  The fact that he showed so much restraint in his use speaks to the security he feels in his job, he's not in a 'win now' situation.  It also shows that he and Marc Bergevin have a good rapport, they're in agreement about building for the long haul, as opposed to Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau with respect to the Carey Price situation, for example.


  1. Hello Normand. Good insight here. Should also mention Huberdeau played in relative obscurity in Florida. No unrealistic pressure from fans or media to be the team's next saviour, just go out and play.

    Just a suggestion. Have you considered doing a draft review from previous drafts? Most people agree its hard to evaluate a draft until 4-5yrs after.

    1. Yeah, I saw your analysis of the 2008 draft, nice work. It's an intriguing topic, I've done that as relates to the Ben Maxwell-Milan Lucic-Ryan White draft, the Mark Napier-Mike Bossy draft, Doug Wickenheiser-Denis Savard, but nothing as systematic as you did. I still have a few things I want to cover before the draft, and then talk about free agency shortly thereafter.

      My big project for later this summer will be to look at how to improve the game, open it up, rescue it from the Bruins' clutches.