Friday, February 24, 2012

Quick Hits on Gomez, Gill, Kostitsyn and Stewart

I spent the most part of February in the Caribbean on a lovely cruise with my wife. We visited beautiful islands and I enjoyed cocktails during hours that would have me sent to meetings at home.

While away, I managed to find tidbits of hockey news, feeding my hockey fix but leaving me without a forum in which to vent.

Most passengers on cruises are more interested in cribbage, crosswords and naps. My wife puts up with my hockey ramblings enough at home so I gave her some time off, leaving me to ponder on my own about what little news reached me.

With all that being said, here are my thoughts on what has transpired in Habs world while I've been away.

Goal-less Gomez No More!

After struggling for over a year without finding the back of the net, Scott Gomez waits until I've left town before burying a power play marker past the Islander's Evgeni Nabokov. Gomez even notched another tally just four games later.

I have to say, being away for this bothered me. Like many other Montrealers I've grown quite fond of Gomez despite his struggles - maybe even because of his struggles - and was eagerly waiting for the day when he would score the goal that would rid him of his season long burden.

I was excited to learn that he had passed Andreas Engqvist in the scoring race, I just wish I could have bared witness to it.

Drowning Habs lose Gill

First off, I apologize for the heading. I've been away, cut me some slack.

I remember picking up the sorry excuse for a sports page in the two page Canadian newspaper while at sea and seeing that Gill had been traded to Nashville for Blake Geoffrion. My heart sank - pun intended - and my initial thoughts were of furious nature.

However, it was no secret that Gill's time would soon be up as a Hab and upon my arrival in Montreal I looked up the transaction only to learn that it was much better than the Celebrity cruiseline would have me believe.

Not only did the Habs recieve two wingers with size but they also snagged a second round pick. That's more than I was expecting for a 36 year-old rental and a conditional fifth round pick in next year's draft.

Kostitsyn Still Here

After learning of Gill's departure I expected Kostitsyn to be next. The Belarussian power forward is no doubt being considered by a handful of GM's and the recent contract extension inked by Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu likely broadened Kostitsyn's destination possibilities.

Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues is another option for GM's looking to add a power forward to their lineup, however it seems Kostitsyn's availability on the trade market is more clear.

I would not mind replacing Kostitsyn with Stewart if Gauthier can make that happen. Stewart's size and skill set have me convinced that he could do no worse than Kostitsyn. If St. Louis is willing to part ways with Stewart, I wouldn't be opposed to paying a price suggested by Louis Moustakas by offering a 2013 first round pick and a prospect.

How about you? Would you take a chance on a struggling Chris Stewart? Will Kostitsyn remain a Hab past Monday? If not, what do you see the return being?

Thanks for reading.

Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at You can follow Sean on Twitter.

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)


@Sean: Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed your trip and are braced for deadline day!

I also like the Stewart for Kostitsyn swap idea. Who knows if it will actually happen, but I like the idea!

Habs need to stop giving up picks and prospects, period. We must hang onto the picks and prospects and use them to rebuild. Meanwhile, the way things are going, the Oilers may catch the Habs. What would we be looking at with a 2nd overall pick in 2012?

Some thoughts on a lost season:
1. My wife is ecstatic that there won't be any playoffs this year.
Some optimistic thoughts for next year:
2. Add healthy Markov to the PP mix and the PP moves from 13% to 17%. At approx 360 pp per year, this adds 14 goals and results in 14 more points in the standings.
3. Healthy Gionta and improving Leblanc help improve shootout record to 50%, adding 3 points.
4. Habs find some way to make up for loss of Gill on PK and to reduce Plek PK time, helping Plek improve on +/-. Additional games lost due to worse PK are offset by better +/- from Plek, but worse PK results in 6 fewer points.
5. Leblanc and Eller triple their combined production, adding 8 points.
Net results: 2011-2012: 75 points. 2012-2013: 94 points and 7th or 8th playoff spot--without changing the lineup. You saw it here first!

@anon 1
Yakupov is a safe bet to go first overall so that would likely leave Grigorenko for the Habs. A lot of the top prospects are defenseman and I don't see Montreal picking up another blue liner with Subban, Diaz, Emelin, Tinordi, Gorges and Bournival in the system.
Ideally it would be great to get a centerman but I won't be complaining if the Habs manage to grab Grigorenko in June.

@anon 2
No playoffs means no pathetic attempt at a playoff beard for me so my wife is also finding positives in this disastrous season.
I hope you're right about Markov helping the PP next year but as of now I have lost all hope in that.
As for the shoot-out I'm hoping it's Price who helps out next year by focusing on what is clearly his weakness.
Pleky could definitely use a break from the PK in order to help his offensive output and hopefully whoever the coach is next year finally addresses this issue.
I can't wait to see Eller continue to improve next year, I've been a big fan of his since he came over in the Halak trade.

Thanks for the comments!

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