Molson beer is meh
Joined: Jan 2017
With Sylavain Lefebvre gone, and most likely a bunch of players not returning, and bunch of new signings of young guns, this Laval Rocket team is definitely in rebuild mode. A lot of Habs fans are hoping for a full organization rebuild with MTL, which is not happening this offseason, but at least the farm system, from the looks of it, is starting from scratch.
Let's look at potential coaches. Right now word on the street is that Dominique Ducharme and /or Joel Bouchard (both were part of the 2018 World Junior gold medal team, Ducharme being coach, Bouchard being GM) are the leading candidates. There were rumors swirling that Pascale Vincent, current AHL coach of the year for the Manitoba Moose, would be a target, but I just don't see him making a lateral move going from one AHL team (one of the best) to another like Laval (the worst team...) and seeing as there are a few spots open in the NHL (Dallas, Carolina, and maybe more), those look more likely for him. For the fans, and especially the French media...hoping to get Patrick Roy, it's not happening. I think Roy's ego is too large for him to settle for the AHL if he wants to go back to the Pro leagues.
As for other options, I'd like to think a surprise candidate could be Larry Robinson. Back in 2012 Robinson wanted to be an assistant coach for MTL, but there were no spots available, so he went to San Jose. After a few seasons as the defensive coach, he got promoted to director of player development. After his contract ended with the organization in 2017, he didn't renew his deal. Perhaps Robinson would be up to a new challenge of being Head Coach for Laval? or if J.J. Daigneault gets the boot from MTL (Seeing that he was responsible for the state of the PK which ranked 30th in the league) Maybe just put Robinson as Julien's Ast. Coach!
Now on to players not returning to Laval. I highly doubt we will see guys like McCarron, Rychel, Carr, Froese and De la Rose in Rocket uniforms, simply because they will all be waiver eligible next season and would have extremely high odds at being claimed of waivers. I can see UFAs Cracknell and Terry attempting for NHL deals from other teams for another chance, but there's still a possibility they could return as useful Veteran presence. I'd say those 2 are 50/50 odds at coming back. Players such as Markus Eisenschmid, Jeremy Gregoire, Tom Parisi have high chances at being let go, even if they are RFAs.
As for player coming back and new guys coming in. In net I can see status-quo with McNiven given another chance and Fucale perhaps getting his last. Not to mention Lindgren still won't require waivers and could start in Laval. Acquiring and signing young Centers seems to be the current focus though. Assuming they don't crack the Habs roster, guys like Jake Evans, Will Bitten, Michael Pezzetta, Hayden Verbeek, Alexandre Alain will all start with Laval. Guys still under contract will be back. On Defense, I could see Juulsen (and shockingly Mete) starting the season in the AHL depending on what is done this offseason with the big team, but there will obviously be a few more acquisitions over the summer, but so far I could see the roster looking like this:
Terry - Evans - Bitten
Verbeek - Alain - Cracknell
Addison - Audette - Waked
(unknown) - Pezzetta - (unknown)
Taormina - Juulsen / buried Habs vet like Schlemko or Benn.
Valiev - Lernout
Bourque - (unknown)
McNiven - Fucale
Considering this doesn't even include likely trades happening this offseason and newly drafted player coming, Laval will at least be interesting to see come October.
Let me know what you guys think!