Thursday, July 3, 2014

Habs Free Agency Frenzy : Failure or Success?

by Eitan Calmy

Marc Bergevin on fire? I would say so!

After reaching the conference finals in this year’s NHL playoffs, many expected that besides a few tweaks to the line-up Marc Bergevin wouldn’t do anything drastic. RFAs PK Subban and Lars Eller were a lock for extensions and then the general consensus was that unless you can replace Andrei Markov with anything nearly as good as he is, you had to bring him back. One of the bigger question marks was whether or not captain Brian Gionta would re-sign in Montreal.  
For the Montreal Canadiens the frenzy actually started on June 23rd. After going through the list of available defensemean it became more and more evident that the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t and shouldn’t let Andrei Markov go. He played 81 games, scored 7 goals, had 36 assists, finished with a +12 rating, and was the most used player on the team with an average TOI of 25:14. He was actually the 9th most used player in the NHL during the 2013-2014 regular season.
On June 23rd Andrei Markov and the Montreal Canadiens agreed on a three-year deal worth $17.25 million. The AAV on the deal is exactly what it’s been since 2007. In order to stay with the one and only organization he’s played for in the NHL, Markov accepted to sign with a hometown rebate. When Markov signed his previous contracts, the salary cap was much lower. When the cap goes up so do the salaries, therefore if Andrei Markov would have hit the market he would have easily gotten the same term and at least $7 million AAV.
Verdict on the Markov deal: it’s a no brainer. Marc Bergevin did great!
July 1st of every year is the day that owners of several NHL teams give general managers the keys to their vault. Players become free to offer their services to any team and in exchange teams give them the world. Yesterday was no exception. Next year or any other year won’t be any different!
Within minutes after team were officially allowed to sign players, the Montreal Canadiens make their first move of the day. They announce that they have signed Manny Malhotra.
Malhotra, 34, is 6’2’' and weighs 220 lbs, signed a one-year deal worth $850,000. Without going into too many details, the following stat alone should make Habs fans ecstatic. Manny was 59.8% in the faceoff circle in the 2013-2014, good for 2nd in the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens haven’t had a real faceoff specialist since Guy Carbonneau. Malhotra’s experience and leadership will be an asset to a team that lost their captain Brian Gionta and assistant captain Josh Gorges in the same day.
Verdict on the Malhotra deal: low risk – great at faceoffs and plays on the PK. What more can you ask for from a 4th liner with his salary?
Shortly after shocking the NHL and the whole Montreal Canadiens fan base with the Josh Gorges to Buffalo trade (see article written by Darrin Harmsworth on, Habs announced that they signed UFA defenseman Tom Gilbert.
Gilbert, 31, is 6’2’' and weighs 206 lbs, signed a two-year deal worth $5.8 million with an AAV of $2.9 million. He is a right-handed offensive defenseman that makes a very good first pass. For all you analytics experts and I'm not one of them, apparently Gilbert’s CORSI rating is fantastic and that’s why Montreal Canadiens fans will appreciate him.
Verdict on the Gilbert deal: He’s pretty much a bigger Josh Gorges. I hope he has the same determination, but realistically this allows for Tinordi and Beaulieu to jump in, and for Emelin to play on his natural side.
Jiri Sekac. Who? Well let’s be honest here, even most insiders had to go look this guy up. Jiri is a 22-year-old right winger who shoots left. Original sources had him at 6’0'', 174-lb, but today reports are showing that he’s actually 6’2’' weighing in at 195 lbs. He is from the Czech Republic and was a rookie in the KHL this past season. As many as 15 other teams were trying to get Sekac under contract. Marc Bergevin caught most of us off guard with this one. According to TSN, Sekac should be able to play on Montreal Canadiens' top nine.
Jeremy Gregoire drafted 176th overall in the 6th round of the 2013 NHL entry draft by the Montreal Canadiens signed his first professional contract. It’s a three-year entry level deal.
Joey Mcdonald was signed by the Habs to a one-year, two-way deal to add some depth after losing Devan Dubnyk to free agency and not submitting a qualifying offer to Peter Delmas.
Also Mike Weaver has agreed to a one-year deal with the Canadiens. After the fantastic job that he did for the team since being acquired at the trade deadline of the last NHL regular season, it was evident that the Montreal Canadiens would bring him back as a 6th/7th defenseman.
Let’s recap the changes that occurred within the last 72 hours
Brian Gionta - Forward – 5’7’' 173 lbs
Josh Gorges – Defenseman – 6’1’' 200 lbs
Daniel Briere – Forward – 5’10’' 181 lbs
Ryan White – Forward – 6’0’' 200 lbs

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau – forward – 6’0’' 193 lbs
Tom Gilbert – defenseman – 6’2’' 206 lbs
Manny Malhotra – Forward – 6’2’' 220 lbs
Jiri Sekac – forward – 6’2’' 195 lbs
So bottom line, the Montreal Canadiens got bigger, stronger, faster, younger for less money, less term and less risk. They now have three right-handed defenseman. Emelin will be able to play on his natural left side. Beaulieu and Tinordi will both get a fair crack at integrating the line-up every single night. Briere was an extra centre that didn’t fit in the team’s depth chart. The return on Daniel Briere was a right winger that’s younger, makes the same salary and has an extra year on his contract.
I don’t think I could find anything negative to say about Bergevin even if I tried to right now. He’s showing that he’s not afraid to right a wrong. He’s definitely starting to put his team together now.
Was July 1st a failure or a success for the Montreal Canadiens? I strongly believe that Marc Bergevin is doing a phenomenal job and the past few days were a great success!

I have some questions:
Is Marc Bergevin going continue his search for a top-six winger via trade?
Is PK Subban ready to be the next captain?
If Subban isn’t the guy, who is?
I think Alex Galchenyuk should absolutely start playing his natural Centre position. Do you?
In my opinion  Bergevin should trade Plekanec in a package for an established top 6 winger. Do you agree?

You can follow me on Twitter @habsaddict
I am a father of 4, I played, I was an on ice official and I now coach minor hockey. I’m  definitely not an expert but my views and opinions are right. I’m never wrong. Deal with it! Enjoy this beautiful game. The best game!


I disagree about trading Plekanec. I don't think Galchenyuk, as solid as he is, plays the same defensive game, day in and day out, against the top opposition. Asking him to do so is putting him in a position to fail. And I don't see any of the others, including Eller, taking up those hard minutes. As far as I'm concerned, DD is still the odd center out. Gally, Pleks, Eller, and Malhotra would, in my mind, be ideal.

That said, I could be biased, since I invested in a Plekanec jersey, and I don't want it to be obsolete.

Montreal going into every season with Plekanec and Desharnais as the team's Top 2 centers is a sure fire formula for losing. And Idiot Habs fans here want to continue the norm.

Red potato is a moron and I ate his wife last night Get rid of Pleks and Bourque.

Mr Red Pot and I are a male couple getting married at Hockey Inside Out next week, and Commandant is giving me away.

Jiri Sekac was not a rookie; just finished his third year in the KHL

How can anybody say that Galchenyuk is ready for second line C minutes? When has he proven that he is ready for that responsibility? It would be foolish to simply thrust him in that role and expect him to perform.... because based on his performance up to this point he will not. If the habs are trading pleks as part of a deal to get a big time player like Kane I am all for it. However, getting rid of Pleks just to open up a spot for Chucky is a recipe for disaster, especially considering the Habs lack of depth at C in the minors. At the trade deadline this year if Chucky proves he is ready would be a more responsible time to consider such a move.... unless the return was too good to pass up in the meantime.

Pleks and DD as your top 2 centres is a huge problem if the cup is the goal. Galchenyuk can replace what DD does but not what Pleks does. DD is the odd man out. Of course, we know that is not likely to ever happen. Heck, DD might be captain in Montreal before all is said and done.

DD should be moved after this season once AG gets another year under his belt. There is no one on the team that can handle Plekanec's tough minutes. Maybe Eller can in the future but not yet.

I think gallager or deharnais should b captain these 2 plays there heart out.

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