Armchair GMs, should the Habs try and make the playoffs?

What exactly are Gainey’s objectives? Is he trying to setup the Habs for a playoff run this season (whether it be successful or not)? Is he willing to set up the team for the next 5 years if it means sacrificing the rest of the season?
So far, there are two schools of thought that seem to come up often.

The first is going into rebuilding mode. Give up on the season, sign the players we would like to keep (Bonk? Markov?) and move the rest. I don’t know what we can get for Rivet, though teams are looking for depth on D. Aebischer might be insurance for a team making a playoff run. I’m sure we can get an excellent prospect / draft pick for Souray. In this case, I’d much rather get prospects than draft picks, as the teams that would be giving us the picks would be contenders, and the picks would prolly be in the late twenties. The players being traded have a much better shot at winning the cup, which is good for them, and if they want to come back to Montreal after, I’m sure Gainey would like to resign them if the money was right (such as Recchi, and possibly Forsberg). The players will augment the teams future potential, gives more playing time to the younger players, and ultimately may give us a better draft choice.

The other option is to go out and possibly trade some of the younger players for grit, leadership and scoring (Guerin)? We have 2 capable goalies, and 3 up and comers on the way. One of them may be considered expendable. Also, we have a lot of youth showing promise which may be moved for a decent rental. I’d hope Gainey would try and find a player looking for a place to resign for a few years, but bringing in a player with a little determination and a bit more size might help the rest of the team spark. If Gainey opts for this option, I hope its sooner rather than later, as we need help as soon as possible.

I prefer the first toption to the second, as I don’t believe this team is capable of beating some of the powerhouse teams out there (we’ve lost consistently to Ottawa, Carolina, FLORIDA for that matter, etc) in the playoffs. To me, not making it to the second round of the playoffs is just as bad as not making the playoffs at all. Now I know that once you make the playoffs, all bets are off and any team has a chance, but still, I don’t think we will get very far if we DO make it. And, well, lets face it, out of the players that will be UFA at the end of the season, most people believe that Markov is the most important one to resign, and I really like the way Bonk is playing this season. For the rest, who would we really miss? Aebischer is our back up goalie, Souray has a great shot, does have grit and leadership, but takes a lot of unnecessary penalties, is not all that fast, and not great on defense (I was hoping to see Souray play LW on our second line with Plekanec and Latendresse; I’m seeing him as a Bertuzzi type player).

Personaly, I’d love to pick up another young player (Kopitar? Hahaha, as if we’d get him out of LA; Hemsky? for Rivet and Ryder and Aebischer? Some other young big guy that can be the Habs future captain).

I’d also consider trading players like Kovalev: I’d rather have a player with less talent but more heart than a guy who doesn’t come to play every game (for those of you who remember the game where, after he missed the net on when he had the goaler beat, he simply stopped and looked to the heavens for answers). point in case, I think Begin coming back to play has had more effect on the Habs than Kovalev’s play over the last 2 months. I’d LOVE to have a Darcy Tucker on the roster (Lapierre in 3 years?).

So, where is the team going?