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2005-06 Finish: 41-33-8, 7th East
General Manager: Bob Gainey (3rd Season)
Head Coach: Guy Carbonneau (1st Season)
2005-06 Goals For: 243
2005-06 Goals Against: 247
2005-06 Power Play: 19.2% (5th)
2005-06 Penalty Killing: 81.1% (21st)
Points Leader: Alex Kovalev (65)
Goals Leader: Michael Ryder (30)
Assists Leader: Saku Koivu (45)

Offseason Moves: Acquired right wing Mike Johnson from the Phoenix Coyotes for a 2007 fourth-round pick; acquired a 2007 third-round pick from the Washington Capitals for right wing Richard Zednik; signed left wing Sergei Samsonov, who had been with the Edmonton Oilers, to a two-year contract; signed defenceman Dan Jancevski, who had been with the Dallas Stars, to a one-year contract; signed centre Eric Manlow, who had been with the Detroit Red Wings, to a minor league contract.

Goaltending: What a difference a year makes. With less than half a season under his belt, Cristobal Huet - a throw-in as part of Montreal's acquisition of Radek Bonk - became the Canadiens' most valuable player last season. He put up the numbers that were expected of the struggling Jose Theodore, and the Habs had no problem shipping off the 2002 Hart Trophy winner in the wake of Huet's success. The Canadiens signed Huet to a two-year contract in the summer, establishing him as their No. 1 netminder for the immediate future. That may not sit too well with David Aebischer, the goalie the Habs got in return for Theodore. He signed a one-year contract in July with the hope that he'll get more playing time, but all signs point to Huet getting most of the workload. But having two quality netminders is never a bad thing, especially if one of them struggles.

Defence: The Habs have a little bit of everything on the blueline. Andrei Markov was the Habs' best defender last year, boasting superb puck-handling skills and passing abilities that helped him lead all Montreal defencemen in scoring. Sheldon Souray's heavy shot from the point is often tough to stop, but he has also suffered defensive lapses on a few occasions. Craig Rivet isn't known as a big point man, but leads by example with hard work. Mike Komisarek has emerged as punishing, rough-and-tumble defender and Mathieu Dandeneault brings good speed and puck movement. Francis Bouillon doesn't shy away from anyone despite his small stature, but the team will have to wait for his contributions until November as he recovers from knee surgery.

Forwards: The Canadiens feature an attack that emphasizes lots of speed. Sergei Samsonov can be tough to catch when he's flying down the wing, and his creativity and offensive instincts should compliment veteran sniper Alex Kovalev. The rest of the spots on the wing are filled by youngsters hoping to take their game to the next level. Michael Ryder led all Canadiens skaters with 30 goals, while Chris Higgins was one of the league's top goal scorers after the Olympic break. Alexander Perezhogin and Tomas Plekanec were among the team's best players in last year's playoffs, and will looking to improve their numbers. The team still needs a power forward up front. While former Coyote Mike Johnson brings size and a smart positional game, he is not known for playing a physical game. There are also question marks at centre. A healthy Saku Koivu will be the No. 1 pivot, but Mike Ribeiro took a lot of criticism for his struggles last season after having a career-year in 2003-04. Radek Bonk, now more of a defensive player than a scorer, didn't fare too well taking Koivu's place as No. 1 centre when the captain was sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs.

Welcome to the NHL: The Canadiens have a wealth of young forwards, and winger Andrei Kostitsyn looks like he'll stick around for more than the 12 games he played last season. He has explosive scoring potential and shows a lot of creativity with the puck. Forward Mikhail Grabovski (28 points in 48 games with Moscow Dynamo) is another contender for a post, as well as last-minute cut from last season Guillaume Latendresse.
 
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