Don't expect Habs to jump on big UFAs

By RED FISHER, The Gazette

Was it only a week ago that Canadiens fans were twisting themselves out of shape celebrating reports that a “blockbuster deal” was in the works at the draft? You may remember Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey was suggesting (wink! wink!) a deal was a real possibility heading into Friday’s NHL entry draft.

It didn’t happen. The fact is there was only one trade worthy of note, and that was when the Anaheim Ducks dealt Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Now, the question is whether or not the Canadiens will exercise the “B” word tomorrow when a number of high quality unrestricted free agents become available. It’s only a guess, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen, particularly since the word from Gainey during the draft was that while admitting he’s still interested in bringing an impact player to the Bell, it may not happen until September or even October. What that should tell you is that it may not happen at all.

Why September or October?

Simple. While George Gillett still owns the Canadiens, the Molson brothers will be wearing the team on their watch chains by late August, and if an expensive blockbuster deal is to be made, you’d think that the new owners would want to have their fingerprints on it. However, the question I’ve got to ask is who would be available by then? Once the bell rings to announce the start of unrestricted free agency tomorrow at noon, what you’ll probably see is a sprint to the finish line rather than a marathon to acquire big-time players.

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