Thursday, July 03, 2008

Habs Review 2007-08:

Guillaume Latendresse

The numbers

73 GP: 16 G, 11 A, 27 Pts, 41 PIM, -2, 116 Shots

Career best year – 2006-07
80 GP: 16 G, 13 A, 29 Pts, 47 PIM, -20, 121 Shots

2007-08 playoffs
8 GP: 0 G, 1 A, 1 Pts, 19 PIM, -5, 18 Shots

Career best playoffs
Rookie (same as above)

Plays of the game: 3

Game pucks: 1

Domes: 8

3 Star selections: 1 First, 2 Second

The story

Where he started the season
Most people had high hopes for Gui coming into this year. In his rookie season, he posted 29 points including 16 goals, which, for a 19 year-old, is pretty solid. His skating and stickhandling had always been a concern and were probably the biggest reasons that he wouldn't start the year on a top-2 line. He was, however, in most people's opinions (including ours here at LIW) an NHL player and had a roster spot. Being so young, with so much to learn, he still had to improve while in Montreal or his NHL experience may have had to been put on hold. Well before the season, our reservations about Guillaume were coming to the surface as we worried about his readiness to progress this past season:
Again, personally, I think Latendresse needs some time. There will be a place for him on the PP, but I think it's second line or fourth at the moment. Kostitsyn, to me, is a more intriguing prospect.

The season
Gui started the year on the third line and that is where he would spend most of the regular season and all of the playoffs. It became obvious that his biggest talent was putting the puck into the net, but it also became obvious that that was one of his only talents as he is a very ordinary (or worse) player in almost all other categories. Carbo struggled all year to find a spot for Gui. He was a top-2 line type player on a team with 6+ better forwards. He appeared too much of a threat to keep out of the line-up (considering the alternatives) so it was as a 'checker' that he played most of the year.

He started the season very slowly with only 2 goals in 16 games and he was looking like Gilbert Dionne all over again - without the superstar brother (sorry Olivier). Then in mid-November he picked it up. Over his next 31 games he scored 12 goals (a 30-goal pace). He unfortunately then went on to finish the season even worse than he had started with just 2 goals in his last 26 regular season games and 0 in 8 playoff games. It was a season of ups and downs for Gui as he truly struggled to find his spot on our team and maybe even began to realize he has a lot of work to be an NHL player.

Highlights: Strange choice of music, but the boy can shoot.

Latendresse by the numbers:

Lions' links on Latendresse:
What do the 2007/8 Canadiens need?
Changing the ethic

Grade: C-
Gui was another passenger this year on the 1st place cruise. Yes, he scored 16 goals, but on a team that scored 262 that isn't too impressive for a 'scorer'. His 11 assists, -2 play and reluctance to use his full strength and size proved he isn't such a valuable asset afterall. The most upsetting thing about Gui's season was that he hadn't noticeably improved from his rookie year. His points/game stayed more or less the same (albeit he saw less Koivu time this year), his PP time went down considerably and most worrying was that his speed and skating ability seemed more below the NHL standard this year than last. On most nights I forgot that he way even playing, I occaisionally noticed the odd hit or goal. Being invisible is a desired characteristic for a defenceman or goalie, but not a scorer - he has a lot of work to do.

Where we'd have him next season
This is a player that I could tolerate on the 3rd line, but only as the weak link as I don't believe he is good enough to be the best player on a line. The third line is actually the only place I see him fitting in next year. With the addition of Tanguay and our existing talent up front there is no way he is top-2 line material. He also doesn't have what it takes to be a 4th liner. I really think he's on thin ice as next season will surely be his last chance. Let's face it, if he wasn't french he would not be playing for the Habs and I really think that Montreal is the only place where he could play at this stage in his career. I would not hesitate upgrading on Gui this free-agent season as he has clealy proven he is not an indipesnsable player. It will be interesting to see where (or if) Gui will fit in next year, just don't be surprised if that doesn't happen to be in Montreal.

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