Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Habs Needs & Their Odds of Landing a UFA

Greetings Habs Addicts!

Now that the NHL draft is complete, its time to move our focus towards free agency.  This time of year is always big for creating our own fantasy lineups and wish lists.  While most of those off-season trade wishes -- I'd love to see David Desharnais dealt straight up for Sidney Crosby -- will never come to fruition, its nevertheless fun to imagine.  This is not one of those wish list posts.

There are some glaring needs for the Habs entering the off-season.  Size up the middle at center is always a desire, as is adding size and grit to the wings.  A large, skilled forward is free-agency priority #1 for Marc Bergevin.  While we are set in goal at the NHL level (Carey Price and Peter Budaj), we do not have much NHL-ready depth at the position.  While the Habs drafted Zachary Fucale, he is at least 3 years away from breaking camp at the NHL level and is better served to apprentice in Hamilton for the next 4-5 years. Depth on defence is always desirable but with the promising AHL players we have (Tinordi, Beaulieu, Pateryn), signing a defender is not necessarily a priority.

I really enjoy the Hot-Stove discussions of the off-season.  Discussing players and their fits with the Habs is one of the best ways to spend the time during the slow-news summer months.  The following list is compiled of some of the NHL free-agents who fit the mold of what the Habs need, along with my personal opinion about signing them and my odds of the Habs' chances of landing said player.

Vincent Lecavalier

Intangibles:  Brings a 6'4" frame, considerable offensive skill, a Stanley Cup winning pedigree and French Canadian status to the table.  Is also 33 years old, showing signs of decline and is arguably the top name available on the Free Agent (FA) market.  Market demand will be high, as will potential salary demands.
Opinion:  I would love to see Lecavalier in a Habs jersey. But not at a steep price. Starting to decline offensively and showing signs of the injury bug creeping into his game. With the demand for his services high, he will probably land a 5 year/25 million dollar contract.  While I would pay him that yearly salary, I do not like him at this contract length.
Habs Odds: 50%

Nathan Horton

Intangibles:  A true power-forward who tends to step up his game in the post-season.  When healthy, will provide 25-30 goals, 55-60 points and solid physical play and is sound defensively. Stanley Cup winner/finalist in Boston. However, rarely healthy and coming off a disappointing 2013 regular season.
Opinion: I've always been a fan of Horton's and his well-rounded game. He is only 28 years of age and will command a large salary. I always felt Horton was overpaid at $4-million per season and he wants more. He wants to be a $5 million per year player. Sorry but no. He would look good on a second line with Desharnais, but his propensity for injuries is worrisome as is the price to land him.
Habs Odds: 20%

David Clarkson

Intangibles:  29 year-old grinder turned sniper potted a career-high 30 goals in 2012 and came back with 15 goals in the strike-shortened 2013 season.  Extremely physical player will drive to the net, throw his weight around and drop the gloves. Similar skill-set to Brandon Prust, with better hands.  However, rather one-dimensional and benefited from top-line ice time on a bad New Jersey Devils team. Will command a rather inflated salary in free-agency.
Opinion:  I would love to see Clarkson in Montreal.  He would fit in extremely well with Galchenyuk and Gallagher while crowding the crease on the power-play. The size and physical aspect of his game is something lacking in the lineup. A contract along the lines of 4 years/$14 million ($3.5 million per year) is the max I would hand out, but knowing how inflated the FA market gets, highly unlikely that would be enough to land Clarkson.
Habs Odds: 35%

Ryan Clowe

Intangibles:  A tough physical player with size (6'2", 225 lbs), the 30-year old Clowe was rumored to Montreal at the deadline and has been a darling of fellow bloggers here at the Addict. His willingness to throw his weight around and the drop the gloves will compliment Prust in the lineup and has a more rounded game than fellow scoring-grinder Clarkson.  However, his offensive numbers decreased for the second year in a row as he battled some nagging injuries.
Opinion:  I did not want the Habs to trade for Clowe at the deadline, as I felt the price to land him was too high.  As a free agent, I would be willing to give him a 3 year deal at around the same $3.5 million cap hit he played under in San Jose.  Whether this is enough to land him is unknown.
Habs Odds: 40%

Dustin Penner

Intangibles:  Large (6'5", 245 lbs) winger has scored goals at an NHL level (1-time 30 goal scorer, 3-time 20 goal scorer). Two-time Stanley Cup winner. However, has not contributed any consistent offense since being dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in 2010/11.  Has a tendency to float and lacks a consistent drive. Often times has been a healthy scratch with the Kings.
Opinion: Penner played well entering his free-agent year of 2006/07, landing an offer-sheet from the Edmonton Oilers. Was a consistent producer for the Oilers, but never developed as anticipated. At his current $3.25 million rate, or for multiple years, I would stay away. If we can sign him for a one-year, show me the money deal at a discounted rate ($2 million maximum), I'd take a flyer on him. Nothing more.
Habs Odds: 20%

Brendan Morrow

Intangibles:  Gritty, physical player has good leadership skills.  Has scored goals (5 time 20-goal scorer, 2 time 30 goal scorer) and throws his weight around.  A Stanley Cup winner with the Dallas Stars and an Olympic gold medal in 2010, Morrow has played well at the highest level.  However, at 34 years-old he is feeling the effects of his style of play.  Offensive skills  have been declining and he was bitten by the injury bug the past couple of seasons.
Opinion:  Washed up veteran will be overpaid based on his name and resume, or will sign a team-friendly deal with one of the top Stanley Cup contenders (Pittsburgh could re-sign him, Chicago or Boston could be in the mix depending on the moves made by Bickell and Horton, respectively).  I would not pursue this option.
Habs Odds: 5%

Dan Ellis
Jose Theodore
Chris Mason
Mathieu Garon
Michael Leighton
Yann Danis
Jason Labarbera
Brian Boucher

Intangibles:  Experienced NHL goaltenders, with starting experience on the downside of their careers who may be willing to sign minor-league deals and provide organizational depth.  However, they are all experienced NHL goaltenders on the downside of their careers who will provide nothing more than organizational depth.
Opinion:  Dan Ellis was coveted by the Habs prior to signing Peter Budaj before he chose to sign with Carolina.  Theodore, Garon, Mason and Leighton would be decent options in Hamilton who can be called up in case of injuries to Price or Budaj.  All should be cheap. Any one would suffice.
Habs Odds: 30% chance of landing one of them.

Nick M. is a transplanted Montrealer, currently living in evil LeafLand. He is a contributor here at HabsAddict.com and give him a follow, as he can often be found rambling on Twitter.


A goalie when Budaj already re-upped and did a decent job last year?

No talk of D-men with Emelin out for the first few months?

The Canadiens are actively pursuing Canucks defenseman Alex Edler, but with his NTC having kicked in on Sunday at midnight, it may be tougher to acquire him now.

Clarkson is going to be making alot more than $3.5 million. Look for him to get something like a 5 year, $25 million contract.


If Bickell makes $4 million, then Clarkson is better defensively, is a better scorer, fights more will argue is better in pretty much all facets of his game.

As such the Habs chances of landing him are more along the 5-10% range and obnly if MB breaks tradition and outbids for a player

The Habs are not going to add a goaltender with Price and Budaj under contract. They will need another d-man if they don't re-sign Weber.

@Fred - Weber is done as a Hab. They have no intention of resigning him.

@Bryan - With Subban negotiations coming up, the likelyhood of Bergevin breaking the bank to acquire Clarkson is very slim. Add to that Andy Murray thinks that McCarron is only a couple of years away, and it makes a potential Clarkson signing unlikely.


Exactly !!! That's why I am saying 5-10% likelyhood. Way I see it, guys like Clarkson, Lecavalier, are going to be asking for long term contracts.

Guys like the Dupuis', Iginla's, and even Clowe's of the world will get less term.

If Vinny wants to accept a 3 year deal then I think we'll see him as a Hab. If he wants the 5 year term then he will become a Wing

@Habs Forlife - Goalie as insurance in Hamilton, veterans minimum on a two way. Not for the NHL level.

With Markov, Subban, Gorges, Bouillon, Drewiske, Tinordi, Beaulieu, Pateryn and Emelin back eventually, D is not a priority.

@Bryan - Bickell signing certainly raises the bar for Clarkson and prices him out of the Habs range, thankfully. I'm going to say your 10% is far more likely.

I think you can possibly add Magnus Nygren for the end of the season. According to his agent, Nygren as the best shot of all Europe and is the Borje Salming trophy winner of last season for best d-man of Sweden elite league.

That was fast. So much for Lecavalier. Seems like Brière doesn't want to come, either.

Any reason why French players no longer want to play in Montréal?

@HabsFan47 Why would a Francophone player want to play in Montreal? The scrutiny for Anglophone players is bad enough. They can make more money for a lot less hassle and pressure outside of Quebec. And I guess pleasing RDS just isn't that big a priority for a Francophone hockey player. Go figure. The only way to offset it is to have a bunch of them, and there's no more drafting 6 at a go anymore so IMO it's never going to happen anymore.

no ufa will come to mtl.
bergevin is conning us saying he is neg. w players .who?
he is just blah blah and the media is stupid to believe this.high taxes,lang.,climate,political issues,and players wifes dont want lang. issues for there kids.
mtl is not a city of choice, unless you overpay.

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