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Poll: Leafs or Habs — which one has the brighter future?

Mar 2, 2012, 4:34 PM EDT

Leafs versus Habs Getty Images

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell thinks both the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs need major makeovers to become competitive again. And while his column’s not entirely pessimistic, it does include the phrase “both teams suck wind,” so yeah.

On the Habs, Campbell writes that GM Pierre Gauthier “has made questionable decision after questionable decision,” but on the bright side, at least they’re going to get a top draft pick this summer.

On the Leafs, he writes that GM Brian Burke “has come up woefully short …in acquiring free agents” while conceding Burke “has made some very shrewd trades and done a good job restocking the Leafs farm system with decent, but not great, prospects.”

So ahead of Saturday’s game between the two struggling clubs, we thought we’d put it to a vote – which team has the brighter future?

Consider:

—- Toronto is one of the youngest teams in the NHL. The organization boasts a deep pool of prospects including Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and James Reimer. Not to mention, Phil Kessel is only 24, Tyler Bozak’s 25 and Dion Phaneuf’s 26.

—- Montreal has a franchise goalie in 24-year-old Carey Price and talented young regulars like David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty, PK Subban and Lars Eller. The prospect pool isn’t ranked very highly, but it does include first-round picks Nathan Beaulieu, Louis Leblanc and Jarred Tinordi, plus junior standout Brendan Gallagher.

OK, time to vote:

Which team has the brighter future?

  1. danphipps01 - Mar 2, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Didn’t Keith Aulie just get traded to Tampa or Florida? I thought I recalled reading that on Monday.

    • Jason Brough - Mar 2, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      Yep, fixed.

      • davebabychreturns - Mar 2, 2012 at 4:46 PM

        That was a step up for the Leafs in my opinion, Carter Ashton is going to bring that team something they don’t have enough of – eventually, at least.

  2. rarelyshaves - Mar 2, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    the habs arent even getting any better…

  3. govtminion - Mar 2, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    I’d have to say the Leafs at this point. It’s been a very difficult struggle back to respectability, and it’s had more than its share of failures along the way, but… it’s moving in that direction anyway. This year might not pan out to a playoff spot, but next year or the year after, there’s no reason that they can’t finally get back to the promised land.

    Montreal though… it seems like over the past few years they’ve steadily declined. While having a top-flight goalie (side note: I never thought Price would get there, kudos to him), young guys like Subban… let’s be honest, two years ago they were a powerhouse, last year they exited in the first round to a team that never scored a power play goal, and this year look like they won’t even sniff a playoff spot. That’s a bad direction to be heading in- and having some bad contracts on the record won’t help (Hi Gomez!)

    But… cheer up Habs fans, because Toronto was there a while back too. All those players with the bad contracts and no trade clauses? They’re all gone, and the team is headed upwards again. A few years, and the Habs might rise again.

    (Disclaimer: As a B’s fan, I’m contractually obliged to enjoy the fact that both teams are struggling right now. Nothing personal, right?)

  4. davebabychreturns - Mar 2, 2012 at 4:51 PM

    I think this starts with the GM and frankly neither have inspired too much confidence. Gauthier just seems out to lunch (although the Habs organization hasn’t been gutted yet, he’s done a number on their NHL roster) and Burke is behind the curve these days – how many more speeches is he going to have to deliver to obfuscate his way out of answering the question of why another one of his big signings is on their way out of the league?

    Simply looking at rosters, I’d go with the Canadiens. The Leafs have Kessel and Phaneuf but either player could walk in two years; the Habs have Carey Price in goal and I think that’s more important than either Leafs skater. As for the prospects and kids Subban is the best of the bunch, I don’t think Nazem Kadri is going to be an impact player personally.

    Anyway both teams will require a couple of years of shrewd moves from their managers to become year in, year out playoff contenders.

  5. pensfan29 - Mar 2, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    can the answer be neither?

  6. BarberPoleBlog - Mar 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Maybe it’s the optimist in me but I think part of the reason Montreal has struggled so much this season is because of the amount of young players they’ve had playing in key situations this year.

    Let’s start with the defense:

    Subban has been a “disappointment” this season, but he plays on the top pairing with Gorges in a shutdown role.

    Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin are both in rookies and right now they basically occupy positions in the top 4 of the D. While, they’ve showed some nice promise, they’re young and still learning to be consistent NHLers.

    Beaulieu and Tinordi are in the pipeline and will be here soon.

    On forward:

    Desharnais is currently their number one centre. On his line has been Max Pacioretty who look like he’ll be a good player for a long time.

    Lars Eller shows flashes of brilliance, using his size and skill, but then disappears for a few games. Not for a lack of effort, just a young player learning consistency.

    Louis Leblanc has gotten some ice-time and done all right.

    Brendan Galagher looks good in the WHL.

    Montreal has blown a lot of leads this season. A lot of young players have been on the ice at key times and haven’t yet been able to buckle down and hold the fort. It’ll come with time.

    They’ll get a good first round pick this year to add to the system.

    I’m not saying things are better than Toronto, but I don’t think this team is in as bad a situation as its record indicates.

  7. habsman - Mar 2, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    I like the Habs chances (surprised?) of turning this around better than the Leafs because of Price. He’s only 24 and one of the top 5 goalies in the league, the most important position on a team. Tinordi and Beaulieau are on the way for the defense so we need to concentrate on scoring in this draft.

    For the Leafs, they haven’t made the PO’s for seven years now, so you have to wonder why a high draft choice like Kadri hasn’t been able to crack the lineup. Schenn might be a bust, and Phaneuf is a human pylon.

    Also, the Habs have been ravaged by injuries much more so than the Leafs this year.

  8. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 2, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Leafs are an explosive young team. Give their core a year or two to gel and mature, they’ll be fine. That being said, some secondary scoring is badly needed.

    Also, the chemistry that Kessel and Lupul have together is invaluable. Say what you want about Kessel being one-dimensional but Lupul probably doesn’t put up the same numbers this year without him.

  9. pastabelly - Mar 2, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Montreal is having an awful season and did some horrific long term deals. It may take another year for them to recover. Toronto is just an awful organization whose management can be counted on to make huge mistakes year after year.

  10. taytay099 - Mar 2, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    I like the Leafs a little more. They have a good core and strong defense, but they need a goalie.

    • taytay099 - Mar 2, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      Wilson was just fired. Now I have no idea what to think.

    • ikillchicken - Mar 3, 2012 at 3:19 AM

      “strong defense”

      We’re not talking about the same teams are we?

  11. ikillchicken - Mar 2, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    The leafs have a brighter future in terms of finding modest success. They’re bound to at last make the playoffs one of these years as their young players get better. The team as a whole will never be better than mediocre though because of the way they’ve built. Too many lost draft picks and bad contracts will prevent them from ever being good enough to go anywhere. In that way their future is the bleakest.

    Montreal is at least in a very good position to suck tremendously for the next two years and in doing so, rebuild properly. Of course, it’s always possible their inept management and unrealistic fans will refuse to do anything of the sort.

  12. drewsylvania - Mar 3, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    The Habs have a boatload of RFA’s after the season. And most of them are guys who stand to get a raise (simply by being RFA’s). Unless they manage to offload a bunch of salary (or the cap goes way up), the Habs are pretty much stuck with what they have. Heck, they have to re-up Carey Price, who’s an RFA as well.

    Barring trade or generous cap, we expect the bottom two lines to look much different next year. And unless Markov is healthy, the defense might well suck.

  13. gerryf19 - Mar 3, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Leafs. If they pick up a good goalie, they are ready to roll; Hans have a great goalie, but far more holes. It is easier to fill one hole than many

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