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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We're Still Waiting on Carey Price, but Pierre Gauthier isn’t.

by Willey

If anyone has been more critical towards Canadiens management in recent years than me, I'd like to meet them.

After years of disappointment and of poor decision making both in amateur and pro scouting alike, I saw very little light at the end of the tunnel.

This frustration was even further compounded when it was announced that Bob Gainey would be stepping down as GM and Vice-President and replaced with Pierre Gauthier (PG).

Gauthier has a track record of poor decision making and a stigma of the inability to engineer a Stanley Cup contender. Knowing the keys to the building were being handed over to him without a search for perhaps a more qualified individual was not only mind boggling but outright foolish.

Yes, the team showed the fans a glimmer of hope with their playoff performance but the holes of the team still needed to be addressed. As a whole the Habs needed to get bigger, stronger, faster, younger and eliminate some of the remaining bad apples all while facing some harsh cap restrictions.

Was PG the right man for this after being molded by Bob Gainey for 7 years?

The first order of business was in deciding the future of the organization by siding with one of our young goaltenders. Despite the negative backlash which has been expressed by both the media and fans alike, PG stood his ground, made his decision, and we all see the final outcome.

Whether you agree or not with the decision to part ways with Halak instead of Price is no longer the issue. The problem—which has been the same issue this team has faced for many years—still remains: we need to get bigger.

Gone are the likes of Dominic Moore, Glen Metropolit, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Sergei Kostitsyn, Paul Mara and obviously our playoff hero, Jaroslav Halak.

PG has parted ways with six players. Together they averaged 29.2 years of age, were 5’11 ½ and weight in at 193 lbs.

In their place our line-up should now feature the likes of Lars Eller, Dustin Boyd, Alex Auld, Pernell Karl Subban, and Ryan White. A group of kids who will insert energy, youthful exuberance, a high skill set and best of all an average of 23.4 years of age, 6’1 ½ and 202 lbs.

The Canadiens now have 13 forwards, 7 D-men and a goalie under contract and are now simply waiting for Carey to sign on the dotted line.

With pretty much an entire roster set and $4.2 million in cap space remaining, our horrors are not living up to expectation and management is now sitting in a pretty good situation.

Is PG finished? I certainly hope not because there is still some unfinished business.

Just for fun, I want to give you my wish list of what I would do going forward.

Unlike most armchair GM’s I do not see a need to completely overhaul this team because that's already been done.

We simply need some tweaks and the number one issue to address is still size and toughness.

So here goes:

As much as we would all love to see Roman Hamrlik's $5.5 million contract buried in the minors, it just won’t happen. The Habs as an organization take pride in how they do business and won't do something that they see as being a bit subversive. So dealing with Hamrlik is the number one priority.

SO what to do? I know what I am going to suggest is not going to be overly popular, but here it is:

First: You trade Hamrlik to Edmonton for Sheldon Souray (assuming both players agree).

Analysis: This would basically provide us with a $100k cap savings and would leave us with a UFA D-man coming off the books in 2012 instead of 2011 and would basically replace 2 players: Hamrlik and Bergeron (because of his shot).

I will be honest here and say that I have always been a fan of Souray. His $5.4 contract is harsh but he’d provide a booming shot from the point and on the PP and some much needed toughness to clear the front of the net: likely our number one defensive issue.

Second: You sign Evgeny Artyukhin to a 2-year $1.7 million contract ($850k per year).

Analysis: We need a guy with size who hits everything, on the 4th line. He would not cost much and would provide that missing element of size an and meanness.

Your team going into the 2010-11 season would look something like:

Cammalleri-Plekanec-Kostitsyn
Pouliot-Gomez-Gionta
Boyd-Eller-Lapierre
Moen-Pyatt-Artyukhin
White-Darche

Markov-Spacek
Souray-Subban
Gill-Gorges
O’Byrne

Not only would we essentially have the same nucleus of players going forward but we’d be younger, a lot bigger, a lot meaner, and IMO, a lot more competitive. Most importantly, however, we'd still have the cap flexibility going forward.

So let's hear what you think. I'm sure you'll disagree.

---

Willey was the shinning light among the wicked growing up as the lone Habs fan in Toronto. Pray to Holy Ghosts of the old forum and all shall be answered I was told, and just like that my family was transferred back to Montreal and away from the damned. Olé Olé Olé.

13 comments:

I actually don't disagree. I'm not terribly optimistic about the upcoming season - PG didn't have a lot of money to plug all the holes. I think we need more consistent offense. I hate having to put up with what I consider to be an overpaid Pouliot and an underwhelming AK46. Other than Markov and Gorges, I'm not all that thrilled about the blueline either. Gill, Hamr and Spaco are showing their age, so I'd trade Hamr for Souray. OB is still shaky and Subban is a rookie.

What about the kids that are expected to make the roster though? You've got Eller, Patches and Maxwell to consider, along with Carle and White. They can't all fit, and as much as I hate it, Darche is back on the big team next year too. I'd rather see one of the kids bump him back down to the minors.

And if you do sign Artyukhin, is there enough money left to not only sign Price, but pay the kids that make the team, and leave a bit over for an unexpected problem? It's gonna be tight.

I'm thinking other than signing Price, PG is pretty much done. Hope I'm wrong though and he offloads AK46 and Hamr.

Very nicely put and definitely agree with you. Hamrlik has to go!

Alisha/Brett

Hamrlik has to go. His contract his brutal but his giveaways are worse. For every good game he has 2-3 which border or ridiculous.

Souray was a defensive liabilty while here as well but he did many other aspects of the job which have since been lost.

Hamrlik provides limited point production, poor defensive coverage and a lack of physicality. Souray provides 2 of the 3 aspects and has since worked on his defensive game.

Hamrlik has to go, we know it but does management?

Tyg

Honestly, Maxwell will not amount to anything on this team. His time has passed. He's young but we have Pleks and Gomez here for at least aniother four years and have Eller, Leblanc, likely even Engqvist who are ahead of him on the depth chart.

Adding him and even Carle on a package deal if we try to shed Kostitsyn may in fact sweeten the pot?

As for what I am hoping to see this year is Patches-Leblanc-Avtsin all united as one line in the Hammer. Have them grow together and gain chemistry togehter. They are all big, play gritty and seem to have al the elements a line needs.

Hey Willey, great piece!

I don't totally disagree and think you came up with some great ideas.

Re: Souray...I understand the logic and it is not a horrible move, but my fear is that Souray is excessively injury prone, and that he wouldn't end up playing more than 50 games.

Personally, I'd rather either bury Hamr in the minors or trade him during the season or at the deadline.

I also agree with Tyg and think that PG might be done, apart from Price. Unless he can somehow find a taker for either Hamrlik and/or AK, I don't think we'll see much more from him before camp.

I agree that the habs need size so I like the Artyukhin signing. However, I would not take on the additional year that the Souray contract would bring unless there's an incentive for the Habs (a draft pick or prospect has to be included in that deal). BUT that will create more problems next year when alot of players need to be resigned (mainly Markov). The other issue is the fact that the Habs NEVER make room for their young players...Need to make room for guys like Maxwell, Pacioretty, Wyman...all three are above 6'1, young, talented but there is no room on the roster for them year after year....

Then we complain when our draft picks don't pan out like the other team's picks...other team give their kids a chance. (Perron, Giroux are probably equivalent to Maxwell, Pacioretty but the difference is the # of NHL games)

I'm not sure I entirely disagree. I would be hesitant to trade for Sourray.

I was a fan of Sourray in Montreal and that big shot would be nice to have.... along with his size and strength. Where I'm hesitant however is the injuries. I'm not sure we'd have that big shot all year.... for 2 years...

Signing Artyukhin.... I've actually thought about it... I'd sign him. But the problem is that these young guys we've got need a shot too.

I'd still sign Artyukhin... he's built like a truck...

Like Tyg says, I think it's gonna be a tight year on the cap.... even if we didn't sign him.

Great article!

I think Yves and Sir Johnathan both make great points regarding the young players.

The Habs HAVE to make room for them to come up to the bigs at some point. This, to me, is why I dislike the Darche signing so much.

Sure he is cheap but why not let a younggun take his spot? Is there something SO unique that Darche brings to the 4th line, aside from experience, that a myriad of youngsters in Hamilton cannot fill?

I just don't get some of the decisions this management team make.

Jonathan,

I am a firm believer of youth. Although I was preaching for Dominic Moore in the off season last year I would have much preferred to see White given a shot for the playoffs and by keeping that 2nd round pick.

With that said, what PG did this off season is get a heck of alot younger with NHL ready guys by picking up Boyd and Eller.

The issue we have with our kids is that we consider them busts because we call them up and put them in positions where they will fial. Sergei as a 4th liner, Pacioretty right away on the top line. Simply put, its a recipe for disaster.

We will be younger this season. Let's sit back and watch these kids evelop and call them up when necessary. Having Pacioretty or Maxwell on a 4th line hardly does them justice.

RE: Darche

I don't want to say it cause I don't want to fall in this trap but I can't help it...

What differentiates Darche from the myriad of youngsters in Hamilton?

Darche speaks French. There I said it!

Simon Gagné speaks French too and he's apparantly available...

Willey - Totally agree with you. No point in having Paciorrety/Maxwell on the 4th line.

Kamal - been following you on Twitter and Hockeybuzz for months, please keep up the great work!

Darche is french but I don;t think thats why he's on the team.

Darche is a veteran who frankly knows his role. He knows he is not going out there to score 20 goals a year or beat the D-man 1 on 1.

Darche is a prototypical 4th liner who hits when he can, chips in the puck, clears it off the boards, cycles when he can and chips in with the odd goal.

Unfortunately for him he can be easily replaced. When camp comes around I fully expect him to battle but will ultimately be placed on waivers. He might make the team as the 13th guy or we might see a guy like Palushaj or Pateryn take his spot.

Hey Sir Jonathan, thanks for the accolades and thanks for your support!

As for Darche, I have to agree with Willey: I think Darche is a known commodity for the Habs and he is a player who won't hurt you when he's on the ice.

I also would be suprised if he doesn't get beaten out in camp by a youngster and get subsequently waived.

While I think that the "problem" of having or not having enough French players gets a lot of press, it is actually more of a preoccupation of the media and NOT the Habs management team.

As much as it is discussed, management doesn't seem to really follow that course, which can be witnessed by the low number of French players on the team right now.

Thanks KP.

I like Darche. Loved what he did for us because he kept things simple and did his job.

At $500k he's a decent player to have on the team but just as likely to be sent to the AHL.

Every team needs these types of guys.

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