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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Habs Roundup: Playoffs, Trades, Gomez, Kostitsyn, Moen, Geoffrion and more

So how are you feeling about your Montreal Canadiens this morning, Hab addicts?

It's a bit rough, isn't it?

Montreal dropped a disappointing decision to the Dallas Stars last night. It was a game in which the Habs simply didn't show up. Sure they had a few flashes but were, overall, flat.

A lot of fans are scratching their heads this morning, wondering how a team fighting for their playoff lives can come play so poorly with so much on the line.

The answer is pretty simple: they're not very good.

There are a lot of positives going on with the team such as Erik Cole's play, Lars Eller, David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty on a 30-goal pace, Carey Price playing like a star most nights, P.K. Subban starting to look more settled and more.

But, ultimately, this team has too many holes that need to be filled and too much dead weight pulling them down.

With only 21 more games to play and 58 points in the standings, the Habs would need upward of 16 more wins to qualify for the post-season.

As such, I think it's fair to say that, as I've been saying since December, the Habs will not make the playoffs.

Time to sell

We had some discussions on the Sunday Shinny this past weekend, as to whether the Habs were officially sellers or not. There were arguments as to the meaning of the word "seller" but to me, that is all semantics.

Trading pending UFA defenseman, Hal Gill, signals (at least to me) in no uncertain terms that the Habs are sellers.

Gill is the first piece to fall but players like Andrei Kostitsyn, Mathieu Darche, Travis Moen and Chris Campoli, among others, could still be shipped out of town.

Kostitsyn is a player whose name has been circulating a lot in recent days. And, while nothing is confirmed, there is talk that he is actively being shopped. I recently wrote an article explaining why I think the Habs should re-sign him, but I can't say I'd be surprised to see him moved.

Moen is another player who is attracting a lot of interest, from teams such as the Detroit Red Wings, among others. However there are whispers that Montreal might not want to trade him.

In fact, it seems there is a chance they want to try to re-sign him in the off-season.

If the Habs do indeed want to retain Moen they should be trying to sign him now, and not in the summer. If this proves to be the Habs intention then it shows that Pierre Gauthier et al still do not know how to run a team under the salary cap.

To properly run a team under the cap, you must know if you are going to be able to sign upcoming UFA's before the trade deadline. And if you can't, they must be traded for picks and prospects.

That is how you run a team under the cap.

Holding players whose contracts are expiring, until the off-season, is a recipe for wasting assets. For more on this see Koivu, Saku or Komisarek, Mike or Souray, Sheldon or Kovalev, Alex or Tanguay, Alex.

I could go on, but you get my point.

The second issue here is that I believe trying to re-sign Moen is a mistake.

Don't get me wrong because he's a good player, but Montreal is not a team on the cusp of contending. They need to restock the cupboard, shed salary and gather picks and prospects.

As good as Moen is, he is making too much money ($1.5 million) for a third liner. He can be replaced by younger, cheaper options and, considering the Habs cap mess with contracts like Scott Gomez's and Tomas Kaberle's, getting cheaper should be a prime goal.

Going, going, Gomez...

I've had a lot of people asking me about trade scenarios on Twitter, Facebook and the like, recently. But I have to say that out of all of the conversations, I still can't believe some feel that Gomez is tradeable right now.

I've even heard people say that Chicago is desperate for a center, and could make a play for him. Come on people!

If it was at all unclear, Gomez isn't going anywhere. At least not this season.

He has a grand total of nine points (2G, 7A) and is a minus-5 though 31 games played. And he carries a $7.35 million cap hit for the next two seasons (after this year).

Untradeable.

No one is going to be even remotely interested in taking him off the Habs hands. Moreover, the only two people foolish enough to actually trade for Gomez already work in the Habs upper management.

So there will be no takers.

The best bet, and what the Habs are certainly hoping for, is that there is a new buyout clause put in place for the upcoming CBA. Players like Wade Redden and Sheldon Souray getting demoted to the minors, have shown teams and players alike that having an albatross of a contract on the books can kill your team.

Moreover, players don't want to be demoted to the AHL and the teams don't want to buyout a contract but still have a cap hit to worry about.

What they want is amnesty for taking on or signing a player to a stupid contract.

That said, I can very easily see a new clause put in place, allowing teams to buyout a player's contract while also freeing up cap space. Currently, if you buy a player out you have to pay him two-thirds his remaining salary over twice the remaining term.

But I think a new clause will mean the player would get paid, no matter what, but the team could rid themselves of the "mistake" and get cap relief in the process.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

I think that this is exactly what the Habs are hoping to see in the new CBA this summer and, in a lot of ways, they're banking on such a clause.

TSN 990's Tony Marinaro tweeted this morning "Disappointed Habs fans do not worry. I have been told that everything will play itself out this summer. Everything."

Vague, but, to me, that speaks to the Gomez situation, the Gauthier situation, Cunneyworth, Markov and any other questions marks currently plaguing this team.

For now, though, don't expect miracles and don't expect Gomez to go anywhere.

New Sunday Shinny and Blake Geoffrion interview

I know I'm a little late in posting it, but here is the latest Sunday Shinny podcast for last Sunday.

The best part about it? We did an interview of newest Hab, Blake Geoffrion. The interview is about 20 minutes in and is worth a listen.

He talks about being traded to Montreal, the pressure, the legacy of his family. He even tells some awesome stories about sitting around the table with his Grandfather, Boom-boom, talking about the Rocket and Guy Lafleur.

It's pretty compelling stuff!

And the best part? You can hear the pride and excitement in his voice.

Click play below to listen in:


Check it out and enjoy the rest of your week. Oh, and try not to get down about the Habs. It's February and it's 10 degrees outside.

That should be enough to put a smile on anyone's face!

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.com. Kamal is also a regular contributor to the Sunday Shinny segment of The Franchise weekend morning show, on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter


(Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images North America)

4 comments:

Good stuff KP!

So you really think AK46 should be kept?

I tend to agree with you (and Kyle Roussel) on that. But, lately, I have been on the fence a bit more.

Depends on what value you get for him and what his salary is used towards next year.

But, 20 goal, 100 hit players don't grow on trees

I have to admit that I am utterly fed up of hearing that Kostitsyn should be kept.

We have been hearing excuse after excuse when it comes to this enigmatic player.

He's distracted by Montreal, he's distracted by Grabovski and his brother, he is not being used right, he is adjusting to being a RWer instead of a LWer.

When are fans going to realize that he is not a consistent player, and only a factor in 50% of his games.

I have read that he is the most physical forward in terms of hits but people who used that argument failed to mention he only averaged a little more than a hit per game.

It's time to move on. Us the $4 million that it is going to cost to keep him and bring in a player who'll give it his all on a nightly basis.

Regardless, with Ruutu apparently signing in Carolina, AK's value has been bumped up

I read the article written by Kamal on why we should resign AK46, and although I agree with the numbers, and they definitely show he is consistent, what I believe frustrates fans is that they know Andrei could be so much more if he gave 100% of himself every night. IMO, he has the skills to be a 30 to 35 goal per year player, with a little more ice time and a little more effort. Since we know that ice time is awarded on the effort you give (and results of course), he wont be getting any more of it until he steps it up.
So the repeated calls by many fans to move him, in my opinion, are based on intangibles such as what is perceived to be a lack of effort and passion on a nightly basis. If fans perceived him to be giving it everything he had, every night, they wouldn't be disappointed by the 20 something goals he gets every year. And in my opinion, if he did give it everything he had every night, he'd be closer to a 30 goal per season guy.
So although the numbers don't lie, the expectations from the fans will not lessen because they know AK is capable of more. Maybe with the right coach he would be motivated to give more...

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