Canadiens summer situation

Hi there and welcome to what may be a regular “reality check” to Montreal Canadien fans. This will basically depend on the fury that will strike their heart next season when Brière/Drury/Any UFA who will sign will have a bad two week period.

Now, don’t get me wrong! I am a rabid Montreal Canadiens fan, i live in Montreal and i enjoy life so it’s probably better that way. With that in mind, let’s jump right into our subject at hand, the contractual situation of the Montreal Canadiens and what will happen, or need to happen, this summer. First off, the contract the Habs have to live with:

MARKOV: 5,750,000 KOIVU: 4,750,000
KOVALEV: 4,500,000 HUET: 2,875,000
BOUILLON: 1,875,000 DANDENAULT: 1,725,000
HIGGINS: 1,700,000 KOMISAREK: 1,700,000
BEGIN: 1,057,000 LATENDRESSE: 850,000
KOSTSITSYN: 785,333 MURRAY: 600,000
STREIT: 600,000 LAPIERRE: 583,333
HALAK: 491,667
Total: 30,482,000$ approximately.

Those numbers aren’t the sum of money a player is slated to receive this year but rather how his salary will impact the salary cap of the team (there are numerous websites on how to calculate those numbers and I’m way too lazy to explain this).

Also Halak was the chosen goalie in this scenario because Timmins and Gainey said they wanted to be patient with him… and also since the Habs have a long history of taking their time with goaltenders. They have seen first hand how big of an ego can be created by a rookie goaltender and they don’t want to repeat that mistake again… and again… and… you get my drift. Nobody want to see Carey Price play in Colorado. Well Pierre Lacroix probably does.

The only 3 RFA’s who are pretty much garanteed to start the season in Montreal are Ryder, Plecanek and Gorges (probably as 7th defensemen). My predictions are approximately as follow:

RYDER: 2,700,000
PLEKANEC: 1,400,000
GORGES: 600,000

And of course you add that contract of Cullimore for 640,000 (still better than if it was Samsonov) making it for a grand total of 35,957,000$ With the previsions for 2007-2008 salary cap around 48 and 50, we’ll settle for the lowest number. Barely over 12M$ left and 5 spots to fill (4 in offense and 1 in defense)

For the spot on Defense, there is only few who can really fit the spot left by Souray. Himself (less and less likely as the days to UFA market are closing fast) and maybe a handful of guys could prove to be capable. Some of these names may surprise you.

Poti: Only ended up with 44 pts but a -1 (to Souray 64 pts -28).
Sandis Ozolinsh: Bring him as a PP specialist and make him play with Komisarek. the kid as been doing a good job covering offensive minded players such as Markov and Souray last year.
Hamerlik: Yeah, long shot but why not?

Of course the list could go on and on but I don’t think any of those players can really ask outside of the 4M range, probably even a good chunk under.

On offense now, let’s try to fill the Center position

Brière: Logical choice but i doubt he will sign in Montreal for much less than other teams offer. And with the reported 7.5M$ some team are just waiting to give him, i HOPE he won’t sign here. We,ll never leave the poor guy alone.

….: No seriously I’m not sure we will even sign a player. I mean Yashin at highly reduced price could be interesting but doubtful. Drury? Gomez? Do I want 7M$ on one player when the Habs have only 12M$ left for 5 positions? And we probably have to pay at least 3.2M$ even for a Poti which, let’s be honest, is not Souray by any stretch of the imagination.

So unless Brière finds it in his heart to be underpaid just to please us fans (which wouldn’t stop us from ripping him a new one if he is late to practice after two bad games) I highly doubt we can sign A first liner W, a second line C (reverse those as needed) and a top notch D let alone two more players. But for me, I can still foresee three signings happening.

Poti: Or any other good defensemen. This will probably cost around 3.2M$ even though I think it’s overpaid. But I don’t think we can get much better than these players.

Brière: With some good persuasion skills, Gainey could still sign Brière for a little less than 7M$. I wouldn’t expect much less than 6.5$ though. Otherwise, the Habs can get one of several +/- 5M$ players who will flood the market this year (Selane, Kariya, Shanahan again, Forsberg, Blake, Bertuzzi and so on…

I would love to see them make a move for a really good 3rd line player. Bonk was good and at 2M$ I would LOVE to have him back. More likely would be the arrival of someone like, let’s say Martin Gelinas or even a Chris Simon (after all, it would be fun to see 8 rounds of Simon-Tucker next year). Any of those players for more or less 1.5M$ would make sense (they both made way less last year).

Leaving us with 3.2+5+1.5= 9.7 and two spots to fill.

The only way to spend those 2 M$ left (not much as you can see) is on two “Camp Winners” as I call them. Call them Grabovski, Milroy, Aubin or Lambert, it will be their job to fight to get these spots. And you know what, I’m sure the Habs will be just fine this way. A lot of internal competition can only bring the best in those young guns. Let’s take a look at some mock up lines.

Higgins – Brière – Kovalez (If this line doesn’t produce, have Kovalez killed. A lot cheaper and blame some “insane fans”. Everyboy is so gollubile these days).

Ryder – Koivu – Latendresse (Latendresse was able to do well when Higgins got injured last year. Time to put pressure on him getting to that coveted second line spot. Worse case scenation, a lot of players are more than willing to fill in)

Gelinas – Plecanek – Begin (Plecanek impressed me with his defensive play last year. I like this line a lot)

Kostsitsyn – Lapierre – Grabovski (this could be good. Or this could bomb. But what if instead of having some body checkers to fatigue the opposition we use a fast line with 1 checker. Could be really dangerous and used in some key situations.

Extras: Murray + Camp Winner

On Defense:

Markov – Dandenault

Komisarek – Poti

Bouillon – Streit

Extra : Gorges

I can’t remember who plays which side so… I won’t make comments since my pairaings are slightly randoms. But it looks Fine to me.

So this is it. This is my prediction for next season. Not necessarily the players themselves. Brière could be replaced by Kariya and I would still be happy. Selane could come play with his Finn friend and I would probably piss my pants. Point is, Don’t expect much this off season. The Habs can, with a little bit of luck, land 3 very decent players to help their team. Gelinas could even be left in Florida if Carbo prefer to keep Streit as a third liner in which case an Hamilton callup is in order.

But 3 players is the maximum the cap can allow up.

IF we are lucky…