Allow me to intervene in this argument between Habs29 and hockeyrealist as follows:
Montreal was 19th overall in GAA for the 2019-20 season. That suggests a mediocre back end for sure.
Montreal was also 1st overall in GAA for the 2019-20 playoffs. That suggests an elite back end for sure.
What explains this wild contradiction?
The most obvious independent variable is Carey Price. If Price shows up in Beast Mode, the Habs suddenly become elite defensively. (And unlike other guys such as Hart, we know from extensive experience that Price's excellence is never a "product" of the D in front of him. He is the difference-maker). That tends to support Habs29's view that our "elite team D" really boils down to one man being superhuman.
There's another thought, though, which is that we have the kind of defencemen who can raise their games for limited stretches and become really hard to play against. Remember "The Trident?" No one was talking that way during the regular season. What happened was that old war-horses, in particular Weber and Chiarot, got some rest from the long stoppage and came back strong; their decidely average mobility is rewarded when the refs stop calling interference in the playoffs; and - maybe this is the real key - they are able to bring their physically punishing A-game night after night because they know it's only going to be a finite battle. They do better in a sprint than a marathon, in other words.
The restoration of Kulak was also significant. Suddenly we had a decent second-tier rushing defenceman who could play meaningful minutes. It wasn't all Petry.
If the above is correct, then what can we expect for 2020-21?
The addition of Jake Allen - assuming that he is used properly - should increase the odds of a rested Price not crapping out. That alone should make a significant bump in our team defensive numbers, moving us, say, from 19th overall to perhaps low teens.
The addition of Edmondsun may help to spell off Chiarot a bit. But I simply don't believe that Weber and Chiarot can play with that level of intensity over 82 games. Weber will be yet another year older to boot. So I'm not expecting the "Trident" or any equivalent to be a thing all season. Trident members will be what they were last regular season.
Between a resurgent Kulak and Romanov, we should be able to meaningfully improve in the puck-moving, offence-from-the-back-end dimension.
All things considered, then, I would not be surprised if the Habs turn in a better-than-league-average team D performance next season. We will be better than 19th overall; maybe we'll even flirt with the top-10. Calling the Habs' D "elite" (as hockeyrealist wants to do) seems a stretch, however: an unduly optimistic reading based on a ridiculously small sample-size of 10 play-in/off games.