Well it looks like there was a light at the end of the tunnel after all. After 113 days of keeping hockey from the fans, the NHL and the NHLPA held a 16 hour bargaining session that lead to a tentative agreement on a new CBA.
As Gary Bettman mentioned in his press conference there are still some I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed but with an agreement in place I'm going to focus on the Habs.
Before this shortened season begins there are three important decisions to be made by the new Habs GM. Well, to be fair two need to be made as as soon as possible while one will be made in the off season. Let's start with the latter.
Quite possibly the most appealing part of this new deal to fans of every team is the fact that it comes with two compliance buyouts per team for the 2013-14 season. The buyouts will count against the players share of the HRR rather than against the team's cap. After missing out on half of a season find me one fan who cares whether it's the player's pockets or the owner's that this will effect.
The important thing here is each team will rid itself of dead weight. get a re-do on contracts that should not have been signed in the first place. When it comes to the Canadiens, the name Scott Gomez is a given. I've never been as hard on him as the rest of the city but given the chance to rid the team of the final year on his contract, worth $7,357,143 I would show no hesitation whatsoever.
The second contract to be rid of is where there could be some debate. Many have been just waiting for the chance to get rid of Tomas Kaberle. Now with that possibility presenting itself it seems that it could be Rene Bourque who's head is being called for.
The logic of choosing Bourque is simple. His contract has an extra two years on it. The 2013-14 season would be Kaberle's last under contract with the Habs at a $4,250,000 cap hit. Bourque would have two more at a hit of $3,333,333. There are a lot of people who would be willing to deal with one more year of the over the hill Czezh defender if it meant avoiding an extra two years with Bourque.
I however feel it's too early to write Bourque off. His eight points in 38 games with the Habs last season didn't impress me in the least but it didn't scare me off. Bourque has size and has proven he can score. This half season will be his chance to prove to Bergevin and the rest of Montreal that he can be a useful top six forward for this club.
If however he fails to deliver, I would not be surprised to see #22 patrolling the back end for the 2013-14 campaign.
The ever enthusiastic, charismatic and talented defenseman is no doubt Bergevin's top priority. I do not see the season starting without #76 on the ice. I would be surprised if Bergevin hasn't been planning for this day for quite some time now.
Ever since the end of the 2011-12 season, Subban's contract - or lack thereof - has been probably the hottest topic in Montreal outside of the lockout. All eyes are on Bergevin now as the city will be watching to see when, and for how long and of course for how much Subban will sign for.
I wouldn't be shocked to see him sign for the eight years that the new terms allow for. I think $4-$4.5 million would be fairm maybe less if he signs a 4-5 year contract. As for when... the longer we wait the more surprised I'll be. I think Bergevin planned from the beginning to wait for the end of this mess to sign the star defender and now that it's settled I would expect the signing any day now.
At the beginning of the non season I was all for letting Galchenyuk play the season out in the OHL. Coming off an injury that limited him to only two regular season games and six playoff contests in the previous year it seemed essential to ease him back into the game.
Four months later, the young Russ.... American forward has 61 points in 33 games for the Sarnia Sting and earned two goals and six assists in seven games on route to a gold medal at the World Junior championships in UFA, Russia.
I can't say I'm so sure that the NHL is a bad idea. Montreal has made a habit of rushing prospects at the first hint of talent but this kid is special. After watching his highlight's all year I can't help but think his vision on the ice, his delicate stick handling, tape to tape passes and laser of a shot could help the Habs.
If Bergevin decides to let Gally finish the season with the Sting I will give him the benefit of the doubt. The man knows his hockey and there is nothing to lose by waiting just a little longer to see our first pick overall wearing the CH. Although if it were up to me, I would have a hard time making the decision to wait.
Bergevin's decisions are ultimately the ones that matter in the end but what would yours be? who gets bought out? What will Subban's Contract look like? And where will Gally play?