The Canadiens are stronger after a busy off-season, Canadiens' Marc Bergevin says

After shipping out the team's star defenceman following a disastrous 2015-2016 season, the pressure is on Habs general manager Marc Bergevin. He says the goal this year, as always, is to make the playoffs.

Habs regular season begins Thursday following busy summer that saw P.K. Subban shipped to Nashville

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin angered many fans when he traded P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

After a disastrous 2015-2016 season that saw the Canadiens miss the playoffs, general manager Marc Bergevin is hoping his busy off-season — which included shipping out star defenceman P.K. Subban — will pay dividends. 

In an interview on Radio-Canada's Gravel le matin, Bergevin said Tuesday he believes the Habs are better off this year, and not just because Carey Price is healthy.

Here are some highlights of that conversation, which was in French. It has been edited for clarity and length.

What are your expectations for this year?

We made the necessary changes to improve the team, and we're hoping for positive results. With the salary cap there's lots of competition, so the first goal is always to make the playoffs. And every team that makes the playoffs has a chance.

If Carey Price gets injured again, is the team better prepared?

Carey is certainly the most important player on our team, and we saw that even on Team Canada. With all their good players, he was a key contributor. But we have a strong young core with good veterans, with the addition of Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw. And we added offensive punch with Alexander Radulov and youngsters like Artturi Lehkonen and 18-year-old Mikhail Sergachev. The attitude inside the dressing room is very positive.

Did you think trading P.K. Subban for Shea Weber would generate as much controversy as it did?

Yes and no. For me, the goal is always to improve the team. And when a player like Shea Weber became available, we had a trade that we believed improves the team now and for several years to come.

Is rookie defenceman Mikhail Sergachev here to stay?

The player makes the decision for us. He's a young talent. We know him well. He's a good person with good values. As for whether he stays for the full season or goes back to junior, we're not there yet.

Is there some meaning in the decision to name Kirk Muller as an associate coach, rather than as an assistant?

There's not a big difference. Associate coaches have more experience, generally, and are given more responsibility. Kirk Muller has a lot of experience as an assistant and as an associate coach. But at the end of the day, it's Michel Therrien's team. Michel Therrien is an excellent coach with a lot of experience.