Friday, June 29, 2012

Panesar and Moustakas: Marc Bergevin's Next Move

Carey Price - Ottawa Senators v Montreal Canadiens
With the Montreal Canadiens new staff fleshed out and the entry draft now behind us, your favorite debate duo returns to discuss what Marc Bergevin should focus on at the onset of the July Free Agency period.

Kamal Panesar: Well, the 2012 NHL draft has come and gone and, by most accounts, the Habs came out as the top team with their haul. Not only did they get the guy they wanted (Alex Galchenyuk) with the third overall pick, but they also grabbed three other players who, on most prospect rankings, were listed in the top-30.

That is beyond impressive and a little lucky too.

But Habs GM Marc Bergevin can’t afford to sit around patting himself on the back because his plate is abusively full. From signing Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Alexei Emelin, Lars Eller and others, to trying to find a top-six winger to play with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta next season, he has no shortage of work ahead of him.

So where do you think he’ll start?

Louis Moustakas: If the players drafted are half as good as Trevor Timmins seems to believe, his selections will prove to be a resounding success. Funny how the man gets so little credit in Montreal. In 2007, fans and media lambasted Timmins for not selecting Quebec-born Angelo Esposito. Now, Esposito was not even deemed worthy of a Qualifying Offer and is set to become a free agent. But, I am severely digressing here.

Marc Bergevin certainly does have a lot on his plate. As I argued before, from a player perspective, settling the Scott Gomez issue remains a priority in my mind. I simply don't know how you can manage a team in the salary-cap world without sorting that issue out first. I know there is an argument that they may have already made a decision on that subject internally, but it feels like such a distraction, there is value in having this come to a quick, public conclusion as well.

Beyond that, I think it goes without saying that dealing with P.K Subban and Carey Price are top priorities. They are the faces of the franchise. Somehow, I don't sense we will argue much on that.

However, after the trifecta of Gomez-Subban-Price, what do you believe is the team's top concern?

Kamal Panesar: Again with the Gomez contract?


I agree that dealing with him (dispensing?) is uber-important. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Marc Bergevin era cannot begin its first season with Scott Gomez on the roster. That said, there is time to deal with that. Well, there is if your options are:

a) Buy him out ONLY if there is an amnesty period or clause in the new CBA
b) Demote him to Hamilton before the start of the season

I won’t even mention a trade as an option because, well, I think he’s untradeable. But I’ve been wrong before.

No, for me, Bergevin must get Carey Price locked up, and quick. Having filed for arbitration, Bergevin has protected Price from any potential offer sheets, so he isn’t going anywhere. But I really feel he needs to have that deal done before the July 1st free agency period starts. Once Price is locked up Bergevin will have a better idea of how much money he has to spend. Money that, in my opinion, he’d do well to spend on his second most important move, and that is finding a top-six winger to play with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta.

If this team can’t be taken seriously with Gomez on its roster, it would be an equally big farce to play the 2012-2013 year with one scoring line (again).

Louis Moustakas: Yes, again with Gomez. As much as, a few years ago, his presence served as a tool to attract Brian Gionta and Michael Cammalleri, I now suspect that his presence acts as a deterrent. What scoring line player wants to deal with having to compete with a 7 million dollar underachiever?

Regardless, I suspect we will continue to disagree on how important sorting Gomez's situation is.

Beyond that, I agree that inking Price is top priority. As for acquiring a top-six forward, that is easier said than done, at least via free agency. Suffice to say, the market is not exactly flooded with top-line talent. Sure, there is Zach Parise, but I somehow doubt Montreal wants to engage in that sort of bidding war. Alex Semin overflows with skill, but his attitude is often in question. What's left after that? P.A Parenteau is an intriguing, home grown option. The unqualified Guillaume Latendresse could be an interesting project.

But, really, sorting out the forward situation will be a challenge for Bergevin, especially since the departures of Kostitsyn, Darche, Blunden, Engqvist and, potentially, Moen leave quite a few holes throughout the attacking lines. And, hopefully, Bergevin disposes of the anemic Rene Bourque as well.

Last year's team was plagued by players filling vague, undefined roles. Who was a checker? Who was a scorer? Beyond Desharnais' line, no one seemed pegged in any clear role. A lot of work ahead in that department as well.

Kamal Panesar: Hmmm, you make a good point about Gomez being a deterrent to UFA signings. But honestly, I would be surprised if Bergevin was able to adequately fill the top-4 D and top-6 forward holes through free agency.

The more I look at the situation the more I see Bergevin making a trade (or two).

What GMs often do is make deals with other GMs that they have history with. Moreover, if they've worked in other places they often go for players they used to know.

On that front, Bergevin knows Dave Tallon in Florida well, as well as Stan Bowman in Chicago.

I wouldn't be surprised to see him trying to make a deal with one or both of them.

How about making a play for Jonathan Huberdeau in Florida? Or trying to grab a D-man from the Hawks?

I'd look for this kind of thinking for Bergevin.

Aside for acquisitions, Bergevin also has (way too much) dead weight on his roster.

We've already discussed Gomez, but Bergevin would do well to rid himself of Tomas Kaberle and Rene Bourque as well.

That sounds like a ridiculously tall order to me and, as such, I fully expect at least one of them on the opening day roster.

By the way, I like your Latendresse idea. I'd go for the redux with him providing size and scoring on the third line!

Louis Moustakas: Agreed, there is no way that free agency can possibly fill all of the Canadiens' needs this summer.

Someone like Latendresse can perhaps address the need for third line scoring and provide a player that can easily be shifted throughout the top-nine.

Obviously, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are team-changing players, but somehow I don't see that happening.

After that, there are a lot of depth and grinding players, but not much else. As you point out, trades are a distinct option. Someone like Huberdeau would be a dream come true for many. A big, scoring centre from Quebec. Wow. Imagine what Dale Tallon could get for that?

As for the dead weight, there is dead weight in terms of contracts — Bourque, Kaberle and Gomez — but also in terms of player type. Too many individuals are capable of filling the same role.

Yannick Weber, Raphael Diaz and, to a lesser extent, Frederic St-Denis aren't exactly miles apart in terms of style.

Lars Eller is often compared to Tomas Plekanec in his play.

Petteri Nokelainen and Andreas Engqvist are underwhelming fourth line centres who do not offer a much of a physical element. 

Marc Bergevin not only needs to fill some holes, but also craft a squad with a greater variety of tools and more clearly defined roles. 

Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on and featured columnist on Kamal is also a regular on-air contributor on TSN 990, CJAD, and LiveSport New Zealand.

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter

Louis is an Associate Editor and Senior Writer at Born in Chicago, Louis grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval. He is also an occasional guest on CKCU's Red Zone program.

Find him on Twitter @LouisMoustakas

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)


I think time to get off Kaberle/Bourque dead weight wagon. Both are good players, were good trades and lumping them with Gomez is a joke.
One or both may go in a trade deal, but if not, no big deal and both have super track records. And i doubt Bergevin is too concerned with their contracts, which are both very resonable.
Latendress?yah that is the fix! Come on, you can think of better than that cant you.

A winger is not the fix, teams top concern is having 4 small forwards in the top 6 and top two centres being slight and shitty on face offs..
Need an upgrade on either Plekanec or Desharnais in strength and face-off skill, and moving one out will at least allow the possibility of Gallagher slipping into top 6 role (but not likely an issue till next year).

Other than need at centre, a big gritty vet d-man on a 1 or 2 year deal would fit nicely.

I hate to compare anything Leafs to Habs but Burke got rid of a lot of dead weight quickly. One may argue he didn't bring anything in of significance either. However to me its like the old clunker that you keep until it costs too much. At that point you are fine with selling it for $50 to the scrap yard. If we really want to dump Bourque offer him for a 6th rounder and lets move on. Same goes for Kaberle. Yeah the critics will say we overpaid to start and got nothing in return but keeping them and paying for them (for nothing) is just as bad. Notice I didn't mention Gomez. I don't think anyone would take him unless you paid them.

Once we get rid of these rocks and more importantly free up the money you can start to put pieces together. It also solves the UFA not coming to Montreal situation because optically players wont see the dead weight and that's what is important.

This is what we face right now.
- 2 bad contracts with Kaberle and Gomez
- a List of UFA players who aren't exactly top notch
- a plethora of young up and coming talent
- a whole bunch of cap space
- more cap space next year with the loss of Markov

Not sure about you guys but IMO I say hold steady.

Let's toughen up that 4th line, let's limit who we throw big $$$ at and let's build this slowly.

Target 1-2 guys (IMO Prust and Carle) and hold onto some of the guys we have (Moen and Staubitz) and we'll be younger, tougher and still have ample cap space should a trading opportunity present itself..

@ Sanman

Don;t understand the urgency to dump Bourque. Let's see what he can do now that he and his family is acclomated to a city.

Bourque is not physical, not mean, doesn;t play dirty but apart from last season he did come off back to back 27 goal years.

Now he's going to be in an offensive system with the likes of Markov, Gionta, and Plekanec back and producing.

I am willing to bet that Bourque becomes that 20-25 goal scorer this season.

Same with Kaberle. It's a bad contract but he still produced offensively. He was like 11th best He needs to be paired with a D-man to cover his mistakes similar to how Markov was always paired with a Komisarek or Rivet before him and I beleive QUintal before him.

For me


That's not a bad D-core at all.

Hello? JAGR!

Good veteran presence to help the kids? Check.
A lock to score 20 plus goals? Check.
Chemistry with Plecks? Check.
Reasonably priced at $3-3.5 mil? Check.
Minimal risk as he'll only sign for 1-2 years? Check.



Sorry I don't share the optimism. For Bourque I'm basing that on the fact that he has earned a reputation for being streaky and often uninterested. If you can't get interested in Montreal, after a coaching change to a players coach, there's not much hope. I watched (as I'm sure you did) Bourque and it was terrible. He was worse the Enquist, Palushaj, Nokelinin, all of them for the sole reason that he is supposed to be a top 6. Just look at his pathetic energy level compared to Leblanc. That kid hustled and played hard under the same conditions as Bourque. He played to stay up with the big boys regardless of how bad the season was. What I am getting to is he wanted to be there. Bourque checked out and you may think that's ok but he's got a history of doing it and he will do it again. I'll take your bet.

With regards to Kaberle he's 34 and skills have diminished to lowest D pairing or healthy scratch. Forget the contract which is just salt in the wound, this guy is not that good. All he had was offensive upside and that is going fast. Did you watch the PP's with him as a 'quarterback'? Terrible. Maybe it was the system but he's as predictable as they come - take away the passing lane cause Kaberle won't shoot. For a 34 year old he's not at all changing his game as his skills diminish which is why he is bottom 6.


Bourque has 70 some goals in last 3 years, not sure i would call that production at $3/year streaky nor overpriced.

Kaberle, average 44 points/year last 4 years, only has 2 more years at $4.25, seems a good deal when a Widman gets $5.25 for 42 point average.
So might be a bit pricey to even try and replace Kaberle's offense, and offense is what the Habs desparately need more of.

As much as I liked the Bourque trade at first and defended Kaberle at length, they are types of players the Canadiens have had too much of and their contracts, space they take on the roster are detrimental.

Kaberle can easily be replaced by the up-and-coming Diaz. Bourque is just another version of AK46, whom we (not me necessarily) all too glad to get rid of. They need to move on if the team's identity is truly to change.

If Bergevin is true to his word and is looking for players with a lot of heart and willing to pay the price then Latendresse will never be considered.
Plus he is injury prone and we moved him out because he had a bad attitude in Mtl.
Bourque will likely get a chance to prove himself as he has size, some scoring touch and a reasonable cap hit for a proven 20+ goal scorer. If he does not show some value will get shopped after 20-30 games.
He also had a mean streak before he came to the Habs.
Not sure what happened there.
The minute we start trying to trade for a 2nd line winger or a top 4 d-man the asking price will be some our top prospects.
Not sure that makes any sense for a 15th place team.
Be patient and see what you have. There is a new coach that will demand effort and that might change a few players attitude and work ethic.
Great if you can get what you need by trading Weber or Diaz but I doubt it.

Hopefully we get the free buyout on Gomez as we cannot deal with him now without taking a dead cap space hit for the next 4 years which would be an incompetent move by any GM.

i would resign Kostitsyn in a sec, if at good price


Sorry man but no way Diaz can replace Kaberle. We ttried that experiement and although Diaz IMO played better in his own end offensively he was lost.

Perhaps this was adjusting to the NHL but his outlet passes were always off the mark or off the glass, his shot never got through.

I don't like the term but last season Kaberle has 22 points in just 43 games with the Habs which over an 82 game schedule would have ranked 11th in the NHL in points. All this on a team that could not score and was completely ineffective on a PP. Add Markov and Gionta and we are that much more potent.

I hated this trade from the beginning and would still prefer him gone but Kaberle was far from a liability and useless for us last season.


Problem with Kaberle on the PP is that he is a passer and not a shooter. In Toronto he played the left point where he was feeding McCabe bombs from the point.

In Boston they put him on the right with Chara at the left eliminating that play. Same thing in Montreal. If he is going to play the point then he needs a big left handed bomb.

Why not try Emelin out there.

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