Just as a general comment, I think it’s important to point out that Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi are not leading their team right now, we might even say they’re struggling. Nathan has eight points in 24 games, and Jarred has four in 25 games. Just to put that into perspective, Morgan Ellis, who was a healthy scratch at the start of the season, has seven points in 23 games. Drew Schistel has six points in 21 games. Yes, the Drew Schiestel. Magnus Nygren, who played part of the season before packing it in and returning to Sweden, amassed 8 points in 16 games, the 0.5 pts/game level you’d like to see from an AHL prospect before you call him up, and did that in his first season in North America.
When I listen to Bulldogs games on the radio, I don’t hear Jarred's or Nathan's name a lot, they’re not controlling the game or creating magic with the puck or making opponents look silly. They’re not dominating games, proving too strong for that level of play. It’s entirely possible that they’ll improve as the season wears on, but just as likely that they’ll continue to struggle as they mature and adapt to the pro game. They may need to start next season in Hamilton too.
So we need to temper flights of fancy, in which both Jarred and Nathan start next season with le Grand Club. We often talk about how we need to be patient with our prospects, and this is where the rubber meets the road. If our first-rounders aren’t ready, we shouldn’t force them in the NHL lineup because they ‘should’ be ready. Nashville may be the right environment to plug in a young defenceman and let him learn on the job, but Montreal, with Tony Marinaro and Bertrand Raymond and HabsInsideOut.com, isn’t. They need to ply their trade without the added pressure of us frustrated never-wases critiquing their every move.
So before we dispose of Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, Davis Drewiske, Raphaël Diaz, Josh Gorges, etc., in our collective fantasy, we might want to ensure that the young Bulldogs are ready to take over. I’m ready to believe that Douglas Murray is as poor a defenceman as the stats say he is, but I remain convinced that he brings a valuable presence to the team, and skills it sorely lacked. He complements our defensive group, as much as Tomas Kaberle and Yannick Weber did not. So I’ll make do with his deficits to benefit from his strengths, his cost-effectiveness. If anything, I wouldn’t be averse to his being re-signed for next season, as a hedge against the vagaries of Colin Campbell’s NHL, against injuries, against the kids needing more seasoning. Francis may have been wrung dry, but Douglas won’t be any less imposing next season.