The Hockey News has come out with its Yearbook for the 2018-19 season, in which it ranks the Top 50 players in the NHL.
Carey Price is the only Canadiens player to make the list, coming in at No. 39 after the worst season of his 11-year NHL career in which he posted a 16-26-7 record with a 3.11 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage. Price is heading into the first season of an eight-year, US$84-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $10.5 million.
“Will the Habs completely ruin him in the coming years?” The Hockey News writes. “Let’s hope not. Price can still make the game look easy in the crease when he’s healthy.”
The Canadiens, who finished 28th in the overall NHL standings last season, will need Price to stay healthy and regain his old form to have any hope of making the playoffs this season after missing the postseason in two of the last three years.
The top 20 on THN’s Top 50 list are as follows:
- Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers
- Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning
- Erik Karlsson, D, now with the San Jose Sharks
- Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
- Taylor Hall, LW, New Jersey Devils
- Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston Bruins
- Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche
- Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets
- Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals
- Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
- Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Columbus Blue Jackets
- John Tavares, C, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins
- Blake Wheeler, RW, Winnipeg Jets
- Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Washington Capitals
- Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs
- Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins
- Patrick Laine, RW, Winnipeg Jets
- Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning
Former Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban, now with the Nashville Predators, comes in at No. 24 on the THN list.
“He hits hard, shoots hard and skates effortlessly,” THN writes. “Subban is one of the biggest personalities in the game, but he backs it up with his play in both ends.”
THN predicts that the Canadiens will finish sixth in the Atlantic Division behind Tampa Bay, Toronto, Boston, Florida and Buffalo and ahead of Detroit and Ottawa.
On Friday, the Bodog betting website listed the Canadiens’ chances of winning the Eastern Conference title at 50-1. The Toronto Maple Leafs were listed as the favourites at 15-4.
Price looked noticeably leaner when he was spotted walking around the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard Friday afternoon wearing shorts and a T-shirt after the Canadiens hit the ice for the first time at training camp. The club has him listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds.
“He definitely looks amazing … he looks really lean,” Canadiens teammate Paul Byron said after skating with Price on Team B for Friday afternoon’s practice session after Team A skated in the morning. “I know he worked really, really hard this off-season. I think he’s a pretty motivated guy to take what happened last year and be the best goalie he can. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s the best goalie in the world. He was the best goalie in the world last year and we got to do a better job in helping him out and I’m positive we will do that for him.”