The Montreal Canadiens have absolutely fallen apart during the 2011-2012 season. Currently sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference, and third last in the entire league, the Canadiens have shown time and time again why they are known as the most under-achieving team in the NHL. They're under-achieving in the sense that the pieces for being a good, solid hockey team are there for the most part. Scoring has come from players all through the lineup, the goaltending has never come into question because Carey Price is a proven star, and the defense, though questionable at times, played fairly strong so far this season.
The building blocks to a strong future are in place for the Habs. With what will likely be the 3rd or 4th overall pick in the upcoming entry draft, the Habs will likely select a new, young, star forward to play a key role in putting the puck in the net for years to come.
Speaking of young stars, Max Pacioretty (23) has exploded onto the Montreal scene this season, leading his team with 59 points. It's clear that 59 points will not be enough points for the leading scorer of an NHL team to have, but I don't feel the "number one guy" is the role Pacioretty should be filling. He is a highly skilled left winger, that clearly needs a superstar center to accent his ability. If the Habs can draft properly, they can not only develop a new star center, but they can raise Pacioretty's points in the process from 60+ to around closer to 75+. David Desharnais is another key forward they should try to develop. He's only 25, so he is clearly going to be entering his prime years within the near future. The Canadiens should take advantage of this, and set him up to succeed as a second line center. I say second line because of my thoughts on them developing a draft pick into a center as their first line guy. Plekanec is still under 30 and should be part of the rebuilding process, possibly as a leader-type. Cole should be used for what worth he has left, to help their rebuilding process, but the Habs should be in search for his replacement very soon. Lars Eller is your prototypical third/fourth line grinding center, and would make for a very key part in the future Canadiens scheme. Rene Bourque is a young talent with a very bright future, he too needs a centerman to spur his talents. Perhaps Desharnais should be his guy. Travis Moen, Brion Gionta, and Scott Gomez need to go. The age is holding this team back. All three guys were great in there careers, but everyone has to call it quits eventually.
The defense, though extremely questionable at times, is a fairly solid crew. P.K. Subban at the age of 22 is set up to be a long time star in the NHL, his defensive play along with his offensive prowess will help him thrive in this league. He is easily the least of the Canadiens worries. The other offensive-minded Dman they should keep around is Campoli. He's a proven defender that can help put the puck in the net. The Canadiens should also be very happy to have the young, stud Yannick Weber, and their leading +/- player, Josh Gorges. These two both play very great, stay at home defense that is much needed for a team in the Northeast Division. They have a couple question marks back on D, in Diaz and Emelin, but with them both being in their mid 20s, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they could develop those two as well. As far as Kaberle goes, don't get me started. He needs to go.
The goalie situation is fine. Carey Price is a stud, he just needs a real team in front of him.
To wrap up I'll say that the nucleus I foresee for the Habs next year should include: Pacioretty, Descharnais, Plekanec, Cole (maybe), and Eller at forward. Subban, Campoli, Gorges, and Weber at defense. And, Carey Price as their main man in net.