Number Cruncher – Young veterans
Into the fray
P.K. Subban, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, started his NHL career with a two-game cameo late in the 2009-10 season. Then, with a slew of injuries to the Canadiens’ back end that postseason, the 2007 second-round draft pick was recalled by the Habs for the team’s deep playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals.
Subban’s eight points in 14 postseason games proved he was ready to make the jump on a full-time basis and earned a spot among the team’s core, making 77 regular season appearances the following season and playing all but a handful of games since. At the same time, Subban has seen his average ice time increase from 20 minutes a game in his brief rookie season, to nearly 25 minutes per game in 2013-14, a workload on par with other elite defensemen across the league.
|Defenseman, first two NHL seasons|
Chelios’ Hall of Fame career started in the unlikeliest of manners, as the 17 year-old converted himself from forward to defenseman and moved from San Diego, CA to Moose Jaw, SK to play Junior A hockey. The durable Olympian and three-time Norris Trophy winner only hung up his skates 30 years and three Stanley Cups later.
Kurvers, a Minneapolis, MN native, broke in with the Habs in 1984 after a brilliant career with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The well-traveled blue-liner had a career-best 66 points for New Jersey in 1988-89 before being moved to the Islanders in return for a first-round draft pick, which turned out to be Scott Niedermayer.
Down the right wing
In the past 20 years, exactly 92 rookies have broken into the league with the Montreal Canadiens. While none of them have managed to capture the Calder Memorial Trophy, two wingers have come close to becoming the first Hab to be named best first-year player since Ken Dryden received the honor back in 1972: Michael Ryder and Brendan Gallagher.
|Goals in rookie season (since 1993)|
Also a relatively unheralded prospect, 2010 fifth-rounder Gallagher nonetheless became the all-time leading scorer of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants during his Junior career. Starting his pro career in Hamilton, Gallagher scored 20 points in 36 games before making the Canadiens roster immediately following the 2012 lockout. The Edmonton, AB native became the first rookie player in modern history to lead the Canadiens in goal scoring, tying Max Pacioretty with 15 markers in the shortened 2012-13 season.
Another comparable for Gallagher’s early career could be that of Stephane Richer, who carved out his niche in Montreal soon after turning 18. In the 1987-88 season, the 21-year-old Richer would become the first Montreal player to score 50 since Guy Lafleur and Pierre Larouche in 1979-80. Though he concedes four inches in height and 35 pounds in weight to the Ripon, QC native, Gallagher has scored at exactly the same pace as the former 50-goal man in his first full campaign with the Canadiens and shown the same propensity to challenge opposing goaltenders with relentless shooting (2.83 shots per game vs. 2.92 for Richer).
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
Number Cruncher – the Bourque identity
Number Cruncher: Thinking fast and slow
Number Cruncher: Andrei Markov’s remarkable precision