Kind of shocked at the news Francis Bouillon might be signed to another one-year deal by the Canadiens.
I think social media is way, way too hard on him, some posters just unload on the guy like they do on David Desharnais, dogmatically, I thought he played well for what he was last year, a spare, depth defenceman who could move up in the lineup. I remember his opportune goals, and his taking on Derek Dorsett after his cheap shot on David Desharnais, and giving at least as good as he got in that tilt, as the narrative for his season.
Having said that, I thought it was time to move on, that bringing him back wasn't even in question. I fail to see how he helps our roster next season.
Marc Bergevin said he was willing to take a step back next season, so there's no reason to bring in a steady-eddie player who has very low upside and potential. If you're contemplating a Cup run and think you need the depth, fine, but that's antipodal to the stated acceptance of letting kids play and weathering the storm. Our kids, the guys in Hamilton, that's our depth. If he brought in depth at forward we'd understand, but we're swimming in depth on defence.
We have lots of young defencemen, the pipeline is full, so it's not like we're missing bodies. We have players who can take shifts on the third pairing, get their feet wet, move up the ladder. We need to relieve the congestion in Hamilton.
We have lots of veterans on the blue line already. Andrei Markov will lead the way. While new to the team, Tom Gilbert has seen it rain, been through a lot in his career, and can provide some direction to the youths. Mike Weaver seemed to integrate seamlessly to the team last season, and he'll be back for another tour.
P.K. is one of the young veterans who's expected to carry a larger load, we cleared out Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges to let these guys take a step forward. At 25, P.K. should ease off on the class clown antics and mix in some gravitas, be less of a line-soldier and more of a lieutenant to Andrei.
Even Alexei Emelin has lots of experience, with his time in the KHL, and now entering his fourth season. He has a language barrier to overcome, but leadership takes many forms. If he continues to train and play hard, recovers his game from two seasons ago now that he's playing on the left, if he keeps battling hard against monsters like Milan Lucic, he'll contribute to the leadership corps.
Strictly in terms of nuts and bolts, we have Andrei and Alexei to man the left side. Then we have two first-rounders who are on their last season of being exempt from waivers in Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu. We need to play these guys this year, give them increased minutes and responsibility, in all situations. Next year we can't hide them in Hamilton, it's make or break this year.
So the idea that Francis Bouillon is in negotiations with the Canadiens sounds almost dubious. How much of a negotiation can there be in August? Wouldn't it be just a take it or leave it situation? How much leverage does he have? How did the P.K. negotiation affect this in any way, as stated in the article? Doesn't the deal with P.K. reduce the need for Francis even further, rather than clarify the picture, as it's alleged? And if we suffer a spate of injuries, and the rookies just plain aren't ready, we're risking their development by playing them too soon at this level, couldn't we just sign Francis off the street, later on in the fall?
This isn't a Tomas Kaberle situation, a player I never liked, never wanted in bleu-blanc-rouge, who never fit in, never delivered, and who I wanted to be rid of as soon as he arrived. My skin won't crawl seeing Francis wearing the CH, I'll be happy for him. But I'll wonder why he's getting icetime, and why the youngsters are watching from the pressbox, like when Jaroslav Spacek was taking minutes away from Alexei Emelin, Raphaël Diaz and Yannick Weber.