montreal canadiens hockey – habs blog RSS

» 2011 » June

  • Getting Drafty in Here.

    As rumors of immanent contracts for Josh Gorges and Andrei Markov swirl in Montreal, there is a little matter of the entry draft for Pierre Gauthier et al to deal with.  With so many prospects making the jump to the Canadiens over the course of the last season, there is much work to do to re-stock the Habs farm system. While most Habs fans are looking to add that home-run Sidney Crosby-type prospect who will take the league by storm, the reality is that Montreal will use their 17th pick to attempt to bolster their long-term plans. That doesn’t mean that Habs fans shouldn’t get excited for the draft however, as there are more than a few interesting candidates out there that many Habs fans should be interested in having in the system.

    The Habs do not have a 2nd round pick (yet?) this season. This will put added pressure on Trevor Timmins to find a “diamond in the rough” type first round pick. Still, I have my eyes on a few players that could be a huge benefit to the Habs – that are slated to be available around the 17th pick.

    I doubt that Montreal will pick a defenseman in the first round. Stranger things have happened but I believe that with the move to pick Tinordi last season, Montreal will want to replace the likes of Max Pacioretti, David Desharnais, Ryan White, Nigel Dawes and Dustin Boyd in Hamilton. While there are a few faces like Aaron Pulshaj and the returning Brock Trotter to contend with, Montreal’s organizational depth at forward is starting to get a little thin.

    Knowing this here is a list of players that could potentially still be on the board when Montreal picks at 17:

    Mark McNeill – 6’2″ 210 – C – Prince Albert Raiders – 70GA 32G 49A 81P

    Brandon Saad – 6’2″ 210 – LW – Saginaw Spirit – 59GA 27G 28A 47P

    Matt Peumpel – 6’0″ 190 – LW – Peterborough Petes – 55GA 34G 35A 69P

    Joel Armia – 6’3″ 187 – RW – Assat (FIN) – 48GA  18G 11A 29P

    Tyler Biggs – 6’2″ 200 – US National Team – 20GA 4G 7A 11P (2008-2009 Toronto Jr Canadiens 72GA 40G 46A 86P)

    As we have all seen over the past few years, Habs fans are unanimous that future Habs teams will be complimented by big offensive players. This line of thinking is a little flawed when you think of the amazingly talented players (Datsyuk and Zetterberg anyone?) who do not possess the prototypical big forward body. Still, despite the fact that players drafted this season will not have any impact on the 2011-12 lineup, fans will want to see the Dustin Byfuglien/ Milan Lucic/ Johan Franzen types being added to our system. I’m not necessarily against the idea personally, though I do think that stocking the system with the best player possible is the more sustainable way to building a franchise that is a perennial contender.

    I digress. It is highly likely that one of the names listed above is a member of the Montreal Canadiens by the end of the weekend. Cerainly with the unpredictable nature of the Draft there are plenty of opportunities to change gears. We’ve already seen that Gauthier is willing to make a move if he thinks he can select a better player.

  • What are your plans for the $64M Cap?

    TSN reported this morning that the NHL’s Salary Cap will rise to $64 Million for the 2011-2012 season. Depending on their respective team’s economic outlook, this may have been very good news for GM’s across the NHL – or very bad news. There are a few teams that did not want the increase that was inevitable after the NHL’s revenue grew again, as well as a $10 Billion TV deal. The movement of the Cap  means that the minimum amount that a team can spend next season has risen to $48 Million which makes for a very expensive season for teams who may be struggling financially.

    This is welcome news for those Habs fans who have been hoping that the Canadiens could bring James Wisniewski back to the team for next season. It remains to be seen what the offers on the UFA market will be for his services however, the $4.6 Million increase could match fairly closely with what he expects to earn this next season. There is no doubting what Wisniewski brings to the table offensively, and given that there is no guarantee that Markov or Gorges will remain healthy for next season – it may prove to be a very prudent move to retain the Wiz.

    While keeping Wisniewski might be a possibility with a $64 Million Cap, Habs fans should also understand that doing so would likely come at the expense of adding an offensive free agent. I invite everyone to use capgeek’s calculator to see what may or may not be possible for our team next season. I’ve played with this feature on many occasions and I can tell you that unless Gauthier can get a few players to sign for  a home-town discount – signing Markov, Gorges and Wisniewski will put a strain on the Habs ability to sign a player to play in the top 6.

    With a host of young players in RFA status (Gorges, Pacioretty – *edit signed for 2 years as I wrote this blog*, Pouliot, Weber, White, Picard), there isn’t as much Cap space as one would think. The savings from a player like Roman Hamrlik’s expiring contract evaporates fairly quickly when you consider that Josh Gorges will see a raise from the $1.1M he made last season. I’d say he’ll make somewhere around $3M per season on a long-term deal. How much will Max Pacioretty be awarded after a great, although injury shortened season in which he played for $910,000? You can bet that Yannik Weber and Ryan White will both command more than the $875,000 and $850,000 they played for in 2010-11. Even if we do not re-sign Pouliot or Picard you can see how the Capspace conundrum deepens.

    I’m no “capologist” and there is certainly lots of time remaining in which Gauthier can fill his roster – yet some very tough decisions remain. A great deal of what Gauthier is able to do this season depends on what other teams do. Are there teams out there who could out-bid our FA offerings? What would Wisnieswki fetch on the open market? What UFA forward would you focus on this season? Jagr? Laich?