There are those who might argue 15 games is a thin sample on which to base definitive judgments.
They aren't Montreal Canadiens general-manager Marc Bergevin.
After deciding slumping winger Rene Bourque was no longer worthy of an NHL roster spot on Sunday, Bergevin shipped checking forward Travis Moen to Dallas in exchange for 40-year-old defenceman Sergei Gonchar on Tuesday.
The move is intended to reinforce the Habs' blue line, which has emerged as a problem area, even if by Bergevin's admission the creaky Gonchar "isn't the player he once was."
The Canadiens' 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday ran their season record to 11-4-1 – a mark that tends to paper over a lot of cracks.
Carey Price is indisputably an elite goalie, but not every game can be a shutout.
While Bergevin repeated his contention the Habs are a team in transition, he's plainly keen on clearing cap space – Gonchar is a free agent next summer, Moen and Bourque, who is now in the minors, both have term left – and moving out familiar faces.
Gonchar's arrival will give Montreal's defence another offensively-minded player, but as was evidenced early and often against the surging Jets on Tuesday evening, having another guy around who can competently move the puck up the ice is definitely welcome.
The new acquisition also ratchets up the pressure on youngsters Nathan Beaulieu, who played on the second pair alongside Tom Gilbert against the Jets, and Jarred Tinordi, who watched from the press box.
One or both could shortly find themselves in the minors.
"They have to be better," Bergevin said of his prized prospects. "They know that."
In the event, Beaulieu held his own physically and showed some flashes of his considerable offensive skill on a series of forays into Jets ice, it was teammate P.K. Subban who looked like he could use a little bit of steady-handed, veteran guidance.
Subban can embody both glory and insanity – sometimes within the space of a single electrifying shift – and such was the case on Tuesday.
He made a back-pass to no one on a first period power-play that resulted in a short-handed breakaway for Jets centre Mark Scheifele – Price was on hand to nudge the puck onto his right post.
In the second period, Subban dangled his way up the middle of the ice but was stripped of the puck and fell – creating a two-on-one He also created a passel of brilliant scoring chances and wasn't the only one having problems.
Andrei Markov, Gonchar's countryman and onetime Olympic teammate, created a two-on-zero rush in the first period when his shot-cum-pass clanged off Blake Wheeler's shins; Winnipeg sniper Evander Kane steamed in on a breakaway that Price coolly batted away with his blocker.
Veteran defender Mike Weaver also had his share of anxious moments, and saw his ice-time trimmed as a consequence (Emelin, for his part, spent his evening jousting with various Jets after a high hit on Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd in the early going).
The highlight for Weaver, whose stock-in-trade is defensive zone play, was an assist on the opening goal.
He chipped a puck up the right side, Jiri Sekac – the man who made Bourque expendable – roared around Winnipeg blue-liner Grant Clitsome, knifed to the net where Ondrej Pavelec was forced to make a poke-check, and took up enough space that Lars Eller could deposit the puck into the net.
The Jets weren't wanting for chances, but as is their wont, they couldn't make them count – it's a familiar story, the club has averaged less than two goals per game this season.
Montreal's Alex Galchenyuk effectively closed the books on this one with 12 minutes to play in the third, sweeping home a shot from the slot (Tomas Plekanec's empty-netter in the final minute was a formality); Beaulieu was on the ice for that one, and while plus-minus is a flawed stat, he can hope the coaches and GM will take it into account.
As a defenceman who can play both sides of the ice – despite being a left-handed shot he has largely played on the right in his 20-year career – Gonchar could slot in for any number of his new teammates (the smart money is on Beaulieu and Tinordi bearing the brunt).
Who knows, perhaps the Russian, who has 102 power-play goals in his career, will help the Canadiens' anemic man-advantage.
It went 0-for-3 and has now cashed just three times in 42 chances this season.