Sunday, July 06, 2008

Habs Review 2007-08:

Josh Gorges

The numbers

62 GP: 0 G, 9 A, 9 Pts, 32 PIM, E, 41 Shots

Career best year
This season

2007-08 playoffs
12 GP: 0 G, 3 A, 3 Pts, 0 PIM, -2, 7 Shots

Career best playoffs
This season

Plays of the game: 4

Game pucks: 0

Domes: 16

3 Star selections: 0

The story

Where he started the season
Josh was new on our team having only featured in 7 games the previous season after coming over from San Jose. I got the impression that the Habs weren't too impressed with his play in those 7 games and I got the feeling that he didn't fit into the teams long-term plans. It seems silly to trade for a 22 year-old and give up on him after only watching him in 7 games, I mean why did you trade for him then? This uncanny ability to give up on prospects way too soon is something that has hurt the Habs for years, so I wasn't surprised to see it happening again. Josh would start the year in Montreal, but it would be as a spare, our 7th defenceman.

The season
It may be hard to believe now, but Josh played in only 8 of the Habs' first 25 games and only averaged about 13 minutes per game during that span. In his first couple of games he looked bad - he was making all kinds of mistakes and wasn't really making up for it with any toughness or offence. He basically had no confidence (no thanks to the orginization) and it was showing. Luckily for us and Josh there was one defenceman who was actually playing much worse (need I say who?), so he had a chance. His confidence seemed to be coming back by late November and the team took notice. At the beginning of December he was given his chance - the chance to be an everyday defenceman. He would play alongside Bouillon for most of the season and actually played in 66 of the team's last 69 games. His play from that point forward seemd to improve exponetially. By the end of the season he was averaging over 20 minutes per game and was becomming one of Carbo's go-to guys in tough situations. His defensive play from December onwards was quite simply spectacular as he proved he was indeed an NHL-calibre defenceman.

Highlights: Smoothe skating, head up. Good solid stuff from Josh.

Gorges by the numbers:

Lions' links on Gorges:
Josh Gorges: A Forgotten Prospect
The Trouble With 8

Grade: B
Everyone had written this prospect off at the start of the season, including Gainey. Because of his wealth of NHL experience people were forgetting just how young he was. He is still only 23 which always amazes me as I have yet to see a Habs defenceman so young be so good. NHL defence isn't a talent, it is more of a skill, something that you learn while in the league. Unlike offence or goaltending, defence must be learned and forever practiced. Komisarek is a good example of how good a bad defenceman can become with a little bit of patience and I think Gorges is following Komi there, but is a few years ahead. He is such a smart defender and despite the low offesive numbers seems to understand the breakout and offensive games. He is a youngster that I am very excited to have on our team as I believe he will just continue getting better. One great thing about trading for players as young as Josh is that when you trade for them you still don't know how good they could become. You are really trading for potential at that point, so I think that trading Rivet for Gorges (and a 1st round pick!) will turn out to be one of the great Habs moves of our era.

Where we'd have him next season
Josh will either fill Streit's void as our 4th defenceman or may slip into the #5 spot if we make another acquistion. His play last year has put a lot of minds at ease, because if we don't make anymore moves we know that he can indeed be that #4 man as he is becoming very, very good in his own end. I believe that he has the potential to become a top-3 defenceman in this league and quite possibly on our team; at the rate he is going that could happen this year. It is really satisfying to see a player develop and improve right before your eyes and that is what we saw on a game-by-game basis from Josh. His left-hand shot may be the only thing keeping him off Markov's pairing as they would make a very quick, defensively responsible and dynamic pairing.

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