NHL Predictions: Will Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price Need to Be the MVP?

Jason HitelmanCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2011

MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 26:  Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens kicks out a right pad save against the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 26, 2011 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

If anything, the NHL offseason gives hockey fans the opportunity to think about a lot of things. With so little action since the first week of free agency, what else are we supposed to do?

Last season, Carey Price was the undisputed most valuable player of the Montreal Canadiens. He started 70 games, second to only Cam Ward, and he set a Habs record by appearing in 72 games.

Even though he and the team in front of him tailed off, he still managed to finish the season tied with Roberto Luongo for most wins by a goaltender (38).

Carey Price was the only reason that the Montreal Canadiens made the playoffs. It's that simple.

Sure, the team in front of him may have helped him along the way, but when push came to shove, Price still had to face 2,147 shots, again the second-most behind Cam Ward. If Price didn't make the saves—a boatload miraculous, I might add—the team wouldn't have won the games.

So back to the whole thinking thing.

Peter Budaj was obviously acquired to give coach Jacques Martin the option of sitting Carey Price for a few more games, but will he want to?

Will Price be able to repeat his spectacular performance of last year?

I think he will. He is of great pedigree and has shown Canadiens fans that he has the focus and drive to steal games on a consistent basis.

What I think will be more interesting to watch is if the acquisition of Erik Cole will drastically help the team at even strength.

I wonder if the addition of the big-bodied winger to the first line will indeed improve the forecheck and limit the opposition's opportunities to get shots off against Price.

I would love to see the 24-year-old goalie be the Habs' hero every night, but I'd like to see him get a bit of a break and share the responsibility even more.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jhytel