The Montreal Canadiens have signed Captain Saku Koivu to a 3 year deal worth $14.25 Million. This is a substantial increase over his old contract where he will average $4.75 Million a year compared to $3.42.
Koivu was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and Bob Gainey has shown a vote of confidence in their Captain inking him to a deal early. Koivu is the heart and soul of this team and despite injuries and illness has been a consistent performer. There were questions about his leadership during the Canadiens mid-season slide but obviously Bob Gainey didn’t feel it was an issue and awarded Koivu more money.
$4.75 Million a year is a little higher than I’d expect. It’s doubtful Koivu would be offered that much money from any other team. Koivu’s biggest criticism is he isn’t good enough as a #1 Center but would fit in very well on other teams as a 2nd or 3rd. It’s an all win situation for Koivu who gets a bigger contract and remains the leader of the team.
The Canadiens play their final game tonight before the Olympic break against the Atlanta Thrashers who are battling to catch the Habs. The Thrashers just came off a win in Ottawa and seem keen to want to prove their GM’s ‘making the playoffs’ guarantee.
Traditionally a very weak defensive team, the goaltending situation has finally been resolved with Kari Lehtonen emerging as a strong #1 goaltender. The Thrashers are also firing offensively. The top 5 point getters on the Thrashers total 291 points while Montreal’s top 5 pale in comparison with 182. 109 points less. This team can score goals and they are hungry for the playoffs.
Getting to the break with another win and sitting in 8th place will be a good feeling for the Canadiens as they take a break before the final home stretch.