Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Five Pivotal Decisions for the Habs: You be the GM.

With so many big and important decisions to make this summer, GM Pierre Gauthier has his hands full to say the least.

While many pundits are starting to get up on their soap boxes to tell the world what they think the Habs should do, I thought it would be a good time for you, the fans, to let the world know what YOU think the Canadiens should do this summer.

With so many armchair GM's following the Habs, there is no shortage of ideas about how to tweak this lineup to make the Canadiens a contender.

So, put on your GM hat and let us know what you would do.

While there are other decisions to make this offseason like what to do with the brothers Kostitsyn and whether or not to buy out Roman Hamrlik's contract in order to get some cap room, I think that the follow five questions are foremost in most people's minds.

What would you do if you were the Habs GM? Let us know in the comment section:

Five pivotal decisions for the Habs.

1 - Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price?Halak clearly established himself as a bonafide No.1 goaltender in the league this year. From his performance in the Olympics for Team Slovakia to his scintillating play in rounds one and two of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Halak has shown that he has arrived.

The question is, can he repeat the performance or is he a one-hit wonder?

Logic, and his track record—he has only improved and become the best goaltender at whatever level he has played in—seem to indicate that he is the real deal, but he is an RFA and doesn't have as much negotiating power as a UFA would.

That being said, if the Habs decide to trade him, the return could be impressive. But are you ready to give Price the reigns again?

While Carey has shown a definitely change in attitude off the ice he has yet to put it all together on the ice. We have to temper that with the realization that he is only 22 and most goaltenders don't tend to hit their stride until their mid twenties.

So do you keep him? Trade him? Keep them both?

2 - The curious case of Tomas Plekanec.
What a quandary the Canadiens are in with Plekanec.

A UFA for the first time in his career and coming off of a career high 70-point season, Plekanec is one of the few premiere centers potentially available for the 2010 free agent season.

The Habs seemingly have between now and July first to sign or trade his rights.

While there is no question that Plekanec is an incredibly multi-faceted two-way player, he also has a record of disappearing offensively in the playoffs and that should affect his value a little.

The other problem for the Habs is that Plek and Gomez are pretty similar players and despite the roles they have been thrust into, are both second-line centers.

The Canadiens can operate with one second-line center, but having two small No.2's is not a recipe for success.

So, in an ideal world I imagine that you sign Plekanec and trade Gomez, however Gomez's $7 Million plus deal make him virtually untradeable unless that Habs are taking back an equally horrible contract in the deal.

So what do the Habs do? How much value can they get for trading Plekanec's right prior to or on draft day? A second round pick? A late first rounder?

If Plek agrees to sign for $4-4.5 Million dollars, then is he worth keeping? What if he wants $5 Million-plus? What would you do?

3 - Re-sign or trade Andrei Markov.
Andrei Markov will be entering the final year of his contract next season and the Habs have said that they are interested in re-signing him during this offseason.

At $5.75 million a season, Markov clearly took a hometown discount to stay in Montreal. So what do the Habs do now?

When he's healthy, Markov is one of the best defensemen in the league. The problem is that he has not been very healthy for the past two seasons.

Last year and this year, Markov was injured and unavailable for all or most of the playoffs. This season, he was injured in the first game and out until just before the Olympics.

As such, the Habs had to make do without him for long stretches of the season and playoffs, and while his presence was missed, they showed that they could do so pretty effectively—especially in eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.

So where do they go now?

Markov, if made available, would clearly be a hot commodity and could fetch a handsome return. If the Habs trade him, however, who could they get back that can shore up the defense in the future?

Keep in mind that Roman Hamrlik and Hal Gill are both entering the final year of their respective contracts and will need to be replaced next summer.

While the Habs have shown that they can still win without Markov, his loss would leave a massive hole on the backend. So, if you trade him, who would you target to replace him? Or, do you simply re-sign him for three to five years and have him finish his career in Montreal?

4 - How do you make the Habs bigger?
If one thing was made clearly during the playoffs, it's that Montreal needs to get bigger up front.

With Gionta, Plekanec, Cammalleri, and Gomez being the only Habs to really contribute on the top two lines and all being under six feet tall, the Canadiens are lacking scoring size on their top two lines.

Andrei Kostitsyn has clearly worn out his welcome in Montreal, and despite flashes of brilliance, Benoit Pouliot has yet to show that he can be a consistently effective power forward in the NHL.

As a result of their floundering wingers, the Habs had trouble establishing net presence, picking up rebounds, and making the goaltenders' lives difficult during the playoffs.

Having a big gritty winger on each of those two top lines would completely change the Habs attack plan. Imagine Dustin Byfuglien playing with Cammy and Plek?


So, knowing that the Habs need more size up front, who would you target and what deal would you put together to get him on the roster?

5 - Would you make a play for Vincent Lecavalier?
I know, I know, we are all sick of hearing about the Lecavalier to Montreal rumors and, as of right now, there really isn't anything more than speculation out there regarding Vinny.

However, with a new GM in Tampa—Steve Yzerman—who cut Lecavalier from the Team Canada Olympic roster, the question is bound to come up as to whether he wants to move him or not.

If Yzerman does want to move Lecavalier and his ugly ten year contract, the logical first thought has to be the Canadiens given Vinny's Montreal roots.

But, from a Montreal perspective, is he worth it?

Can Lecavalier rediscover his 50-goal, 100-point form, or is he past his prime and closer to a 70-80 point player?

If Vinny is even available what trade package could you put together to get him, keeping in mind that the Habs would have to move salary back the other way to fit him under the cap.

OK, that's all I've got for now. Remember to let us know your answers in the comment section below. I'm going to take the best responses and compile them in a post, so put on your thinking cap and let's hear your best ideas!


1 - Shop them both around and trade the one that gets me a better deal, preferably a big, fast, capable winger for the Gomez/Gionta line.

2 - If he's willing to take 4-4.75 mil I'll resign Pleks. Otherwise, he can take his party elsewhere. It's a pity, but there's a cap issue at stake, and we already have Gomez, who is completely unmovable unless one of the other GMs is smoking something illegal.

3 - Resign Markov. He's a top 5 D-man year in and year out, and he's a huge impact on the rest of the D corp. Also crucial to PP and PK special teams.

4 - AK46 and Pouliot gotta go. Neither are fit wingers for the top 2 lines, and there has to be some dealing done to get at least 2 solid wingers who will go into the corners to get the pucks for the skilled smurf players, and also protect them from the bullies. Dustin Byfuglien is money in the bank for the Hawks, and they're facing cap issues, so I doubt they'll deal him. But I would look for something similar for sure. No idea who though.

5 - Just say NO NO NO to Lecavalier. Not even going to consider it.

On a side note, I'd probably try to offload Hamr or Spacek. Don't need them both. Still got Gorges, Gill, OB, Subban, probably Webber, and the returning Markov. Hamr is a huge cap hit, and I know he has to approve any trade team, but I'd rather not pay him 5.5 mil next year. He had some good moments, but he had some terrible ones too.

lol well said.

But id rather put Price on the market and see what we can get for him, AK46 and SK74. Maybe even in a bundle deal. Id get rid of all three even if it were for just 1 Super Star.

Forgot to mention Pouliot. I like his style...Id give him another more year no raise in Salary so wouldnt hurt the cap too much.

Awesome ideas guys! And Tyg, I agree re: Lecavalier. That being said, you know that IF he become available the Habs WILL make a play for him.

They almost have to.

For me, I am having a hard enough time digesting Gomez's horrible now bring in a 30 year old for 10 more years? Wow. That is a lot to ask.

However, as Tony Marinaro pointed out on the Team 999, IF you bring in Vinny and you win the cup in the next 3-4 years, then you don't care how long his contract is.

High risk, imo.

Usman: Re Pouliot, I would have to agree. The kid started with fire in his belly then fell off the rails and lost his confidence.

That being said, many were saying the he just didn't have the proper physical conditioning to play top-6 minutes. We have to remember that he was an after thought in Minnesota, often being a healthy scratch.

He came to Montreal out of shape. He'll need to put on some muslce and get his cardio up to speed.

Also, IF we don't lose Guy Boucher from Hamilton this year, I would LOVE to see Pouliot spend a month or two playing under him to get his confidence where it needs to be.


I have to disagree with Tony Marinaro. Our hole is already big enough with Gomez. Trading him outright for Vinnie is also not a good idea, cause Gomez is part of the core leadership of the Habs, and I'd rather not mess with what went right last season.

Re: Pouliot - if he bulks up, sucks it up, and buys into the team play spirit, he can stay. I saw not enough effort or desire during the playoffs run for my liking. If he wants to float, he gets traded to Kalamazoo for all I care.

So far Boucher is staying silent on his possible coaching move, but I agree he can help Pouliot.

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