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Game 64: Habs/Lightning

  • Andrei Kostitsyn was moved to start the “frenzy” of the trade deadline yesterday morning. Ok.. that was probably an overly generous use of the word frenzy.

    The Habs collected a 2013 2nd round pick as well as the conditional 5th round pick that was sent to Nashville in the Hal Gill trade. While I’m comfortable that AK was essentially worth the 2nd rounder, I’m still trying to figure out why Pierre Gauthier didn’t try to wait out the market to see if he couldn’t get a 2012 2nd round pick. There was no rush to get that deal done. The trade was announced hours before any others and given how little happened with Rick Nash, there could have been teams that saw AK as a stop gap band-aid for their offense. You never know.   It could be that this was the best that Gauthier was going to do – but we’ll never know.

    Montreal also made a small waiver pickup, claiming Brad Staubitz from Minnesota. Staubitz is a fighter who plays an average of 3 shifts per period who has no points on the season. He can go with the best of them, and definitely punches way above his weight class. I like the pickup for a couple reasons, though not really because Staubitz can play – because he really isn’t that good.

    First, Ryan White was going to take a beating if he continued to be the sole fighter on the Canadiens this season. I love what he brings to the game. He isn’t afraid of anyone – but he was the key target in every game since he was called up and the Habs need him to play hockey as well as throw bombs. He’ll be very glad to see Staubitz on the bench beside him. I am too – even if it is only for the rest of the year to make sure no team starts taking too many liberties with the Habs.

    Secondarily I like this move because it gets Louis Leblanc out of the lineup and back in Hamilton where he belongs. Don’t get me wrong – I love what Leblanc brought in his time in Montreal, but there is no point in having him pick up bad habits, under media scrutiny in Montreal when he could be playing top line minutes in all situations in Hamilton where the scores don’t matter, and players are expected to work on their game. Leblanc will be a Montreal Canadien next season, so I have no problem with sending him down to finish up the year where he can focus on learning the game and not just trying to keep up with the NHL game. Consider Max Pacioretty and how he felt about playing in the bottom 6 in Montreal as opposed to playing in the top 6 in Hamilton. His development and offensive explosion this season (along with his buddy David Desharnais) is a ringing endorsement to how things can go if a kid is brought up within a situation where they can succeed.

    Finally, Blake Geoffrion was called up to replace the other roster spot left by Kostitsyn’s trade, and Leblanc’s return to the AHL. The gritty centre will bring energy to the bottom 6, and should be fairly motivated considering his unbelievable pedigree within the Montreal organization. He’ll wear number 57 to honour his Grandfather Boom Boom (#5) and his great-Grandfather Howie Morenz (#7).

    I have to sign off a little differently than normal. The stars are beginning to align for Montreal to be able to get the 2nd overall pick in the draft with which they could select Mikhail Grigorenko – the big centre for the Quebec Ramparts who has 78 points in 51 games this season for Patrick Roy. To help get you in the mood, here he is with a hat trick last Friday night. (That video looks as though its from 1985 – what is going on with QMJHL broadcasts!?). He had 2 more on Sunday. With the Oilers winning last night, they have pulled within 2 points of the Canadiens while holding a game in hand. There you go – I just gave you a standings race involving the Habs to cheer for!

    The whole thing may be moot however – I’m not convinced the Oilers (given their organizational strength at forward, and lack of depth on defense) would take another offensive player with their first pick (although the thought of Grigorenko joining a lineup already featuring Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Pajaarvi, Gagner, and Omark is seriously troubling. Its possible, if not likely that they would take a defender (likely Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips  – WHL) with their first selection – leaving the Habs with Grigorenko which would be more than fine by me. Grigorenko is exactly the player the Habs need – a centre with size and amazing abilities both as a playmaker, scorer, and puckhandler. He plays the sidewall position on the powerplay and would be the most dynamic scorer on the team since.. I don’t know.. Kovalev, Richer, Damphousse, Naslund?? I don’t know where to put Grigoreko’s ceiling. The comparison with Evgeni Malkin is the most common. He has superb vision, amazing hands, high hockey IQ, a nose for the net and that special ability that goal-scorers have to find the puck in their stick with the net open , and the moxy to bury his chances.  Any time you’re being compared to the current scoring leader you’re doing things right.

    So… Go Oilers go???

  1. #1 Avatar37 says:
    February 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Looks like I was wrong on the market value for AK. This trade, however, doesn’t necessarily mean AK is gone for good, we’ll be able to offer him a contract at the end of the year just as much as if he’d finished the year out with us. This brings in the return of a 2nd round pick which I’m ok with. Whether AK chooses to walk or come back, we’ll still have that pick.

    I agree completely with your analysis of Staubitz and White. Not sure how good or bad Staubitz is, but any added toughness is welcome to finish out the season, and during the off-season we can address that issue in a more permanent way.

    I agree with your analysis about Leblanc, my only question is what is Palushaj still doing up? The only thing I can think of is that he’s being given time in the NHL to showcase for a potential off-season trade. For whatever reason, Palushaj’s success at the AHL has never translated into anything with our club. Perhaps a different club will have a better fit for him? Calling up Geoffrion gives him some more NHL experience, but I have to wonder, where’s Schultz? Why not call him up and let him play a few games? Or finish out the season so at least we have a better idea of where he is at in his development and he has a better idea of what it takes to play in the NHL?

    I think Yakupov has to go first overall. Personally, if I were picking second, I think I’d pick Galchenyuk and Forsberg over Grigorenko. No real reason why, just my own gut feeling, I understand Grigorenko is talented and being compared to Malkin, but I’m not a big Malkin fan either. For this reason, if we don’t get first pick, I hope we get third.

    I’m not going to cheer for this team to lose, however… A top 3 pick really would help this club come next season, and with PG finally on board with helping this team get tougher, I think we can become a playoff team once more (Unlike the Leafs who are what, 7 years and counting out of the playoffs?). So, Go Top 3 Pick this year, and Go Habs Go (for next year)!

  2. #3 Avatar37 says:
    February 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    That, to me, is a kid I’d love to take a chance on.

  3. #4 Mats Naslund says:
    February 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Galchenyuk would be a nice consolation prize but Montreal has needed a big scoring Centreman since probably Vincent Damphousse in 96 or 97.. At 6`3 200 I`d rather have the Centreman than Galchenyuk who projects to be a winger in the grain of Marian Hossa (still amazing). Galchenyuk put up big points with Sarnia in his first season, but at 6`1 180 he still has a lot of filling out to do. Plus he hasn`t played this season which could be very risky in terms of drafting a guy 2nd or 3rd overall without seeing him play this season. Don`t get me wrong – I`d still be very happy with him if that is what ends up happening, but if Grigorenko is available when Montreal picks – I`d be shocked if they didn`t take him given the year he`s had, essentially in their own backyard.

    Forsberg is also a winger, and also has growing to do (6`1 – 176).. He`s playing in the Swedish Elite league at an extremely young age which is great news. The only thing is, because the Swedish league is so defensive, its hard to project how scorers will translate in the NA game. Enqvist – for example had 26 points in 55 games in 09-10. Eller had 29 points in 48 games in 08-09. He has 15 points in 39 games this season. All the scouting has him pegged at elite offensive skills, but because he`s playing against MUCH older competition its very hard to guage him against guys like Yakupov and Grigorenko (who are playing against guys their own age) and Galchenyuk who isn`t even playing.

    One thing is for certain – there is no chance Montreal takes a defender with their first pick.

  4. #5 Avatar37 says:
    February 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    “One thing is for certain – there is no chance Montreal takes a defender with their first pick.”

    Not unless we go on some unfortunate winning streak and wind up picking in the 8-10 range. After Yakupov, Grigorenko, Galchenyuk, and Forsberg, the talent pool for forwards drops off (in fact, most commentators I’ve heard said this year is bad for forwards, with it being Yakupov and then everyone else).

    “Galchenyuk would be a nice consolation prize…”

    I just have a feeling, after everything I’ve read about him, he’s going to turn out to be more than just a consolation prize. Historically, players who face that kind of adversity appreciate what they have and where they are more at a younger age. Granted, it’s a bit of a higher risk, but I think the reward follows. Just my opinion based on past observations, that’s all, like all crystal ball projections, it could be completely wrong.

    With our second rounds picks (if available), I’d like to see us take Ville Pokka (6’0 190lb D) who impressed me during the tournament and Vasilevski (6’3 205lb G) (who also really impressed me despite Canada almost coming back vs the Russians, it wasn’t anything to do with how Vasilevski was playing, he’s young and has absolutely amazing poise and skills for his age).

    After that, I’d be looking to find some of the meanest, toughest undrafted players in any position that show even the slightest ability to actually play hockey (preferably on the PK and checking line), and I’d fill the rest of my picks out with them. You’re bound to hit on one that will be able to make the jump to the NHL sometimes in the next year or two, and we sure have enough small skilled players like Galagher around.

  5. #6 Avatar37 says:
    February 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Oh, and I’m not sure if this is accurate or not, but Wikipedia lists Galchenyuk as a 6’1 185lb centre.

  6. The one thing that could cause Galchenyuk to go later in the first round is his injury and the risk. Since we have so many 2nd round picks why not trade a couple of them to get another top first round pick and attempt to get Galchenyuk then.

  7. #8 Avatar37 says:
    March 1, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Senet – Can you imagine getting both Yakupov and Galchenyuk? Aren’t they teammates now? Or Forsberg and Galchenyuk? Even with his lower ranking, I really would be shocked if Galchenyuk didn’t go in the top 10, so getting both of them might be impossible. Then again, Vancouver was able to pull off drafting both Sedins, so I suppose anything is possible. If not, I’d still be happy seeing us get Pokka and Vasilevski in the second round.

  8. #9 Senet1 says:
    March 1, 2012 at 12:41 am

    One thing that everyone is assuming is that Columbus gets the first pick. Not necessarily based on the lottery any team in the bottom 5 can end up with that pick. So we have a chance to pick first overall. Galchenyuk is rated 7-9th overall so he could be had with a 2nd rounder and a player etc.

  9. #10 Avatar37 says:
    March 1, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Columbus will have the best odds of getting the first pick. If we finish second last, we’ll have the second best odds on landing it. A first overall pick isn’t a guarantee in getting a player who is a difference maker, but it sure wouldn’t hurt us. If we’re able to finish second or third last, I think we’ll have a great shot at turning this team around next year.

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