Can’t a guy go out for brunch without everything happening?
It has been an extremely long time coming, and yet I can say in all honesty, I didn’t see this happening. To be fair, I don’t even think Bergevin saw this happening until late Saturday night when he finally read over the finalized CBA, which would disallow teams from buying out the contract of injured players. While all of us assumed that Gomez would be bought out next summer as a result of the rumoured “amnesty” buy outs, which allow teams to get rid of two contracts in order to comply with the lower cap ceiling, not many people thought he would end up sitting out the entire year to ensure he isn’t hurt.
In all of this, I’m surprised by the fact that my first thought was for the 33 year old Gomez who will now sit out a full year at a critical point in his career, unable to play hockey until his contract can be fully bought out after this season. I certainly didn’t want him on the Habs roster this season, but I had expected he would have the opportunity to prove his worth to another organization somewhere. Its a fully understandable move from the Habs’ perspective. They simply cannot risk an injury which would force them to keep him on the roster next season. Still, it seems like a very unfortunate result of the new CBA that Gomez won’t even be able to keep in game shape playing in the AHL or ECHL. He’s paid $5M dollars this year – which he will be paid in full – so I’m not entirely sure how bad I should really feel for the guy. It does seem odd though, that he’ll now be on the sidelines entirely rather than spending the year proving to the rest of the league that he could be worth the $4.5M he stood to earn next year.
So the Habs will absorb Gomez’ cap hit of $7.357M, and move on without him. They open camp with 27 invited players including Gabriel Dumont, Brendan Gallagher, Jared Tinordi, and Mike Commodore, all of whom have being with the Bulldogs in the AHL so far this year. Alex Galchenyuk is also in camp which now becomes more significant given that the Canadiens will have a spot open as a result of Gomez’ departure – yet cannot fill his spot with an expensive player due to his cap hit. Dumont and Gallagher have both played 36 games and have 22 and 20 points respectively. Both have been decent though neither one has had the type of year that would suggest they are locks to make the NHL club. That leaves the door open for Galchenyuk who has had a very good year thus far in the OHL, scoring almost a goal a game, while amassing 61 points in 33 games. Still, the OHL is a long way from the NHL. Gallagher has been an elite OHL scorer too, putting up similar numbers. Dumont was no slouch putting up elite QMHJL numbers while winning the Guy Carboneau trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. His strength on that side of the ice might just give him the edge in camp – but it remains to be seen how that pans out.
On the defensive side, it is highly unlikely that either Tinordi or Commodore can crack a Montreal defense that already holds 8 bodies. Well, 8 if you count PK Subban who remains unsigned despite a trip to Toronto yesterday by GM Marc Bergevin to conduct face-to-face negotiations with Subban’s agent Don Meehan. I doubt this negotiation remains unsolved for too long – as Subban is a restricted free-agent, but you never know how these things get resolved. Rumours were that there was a 4 year $22M offer on the table which you would think was more than fair given the similarity of the contract Max Pacioretty signed last season.
What do you guys think of the decision to send Gomez home? What is your feeling of how the team shapes up going into camp? Who do you think makes the team this season out of the Hamilton/ Galchenyuk crew?