Gainey could look like a genius!
Bob Gainey could come out of the off-season Free Agent Frenzy looking like a genius. Now that is not to say that he has become somewhat heightened in his intelligence level but rather more likely a stroke of luck with the current econmic turmoil in the world.
Teams after the lockout were originally timid coming out of the gate when it came to signing free agents. This was fueled partially by the fact that they had to learn some of the new rules regarding the salary cap. That did not last long though as the G.M’s quickly reverted back to their only known way of doing their jobs by over paying for perhaps overhyped talent. They did this mostly to save their own skins in the short term and not in the long term Team interests.
Bob Gainey whether he tried or not was never successful in outspending his counterparts and could never land the Big-Fish. (His other legacy will be the fact that he let a lot of talent simply slip away without getting much or anything in return!) Despite this he could still come out smelling like a rose. He has (count them!) 10 potential free agents in the off season. Everyone is jumping all ove the fact that he could lose players like Komisarek, Kovalev and others without getting anything in return should he stick with his players and make a run for the playoffs with pretty much the same roster. This will probably not lead to the land of Stanley Cup banners to add to the Bell Centre rafters, but still is the more likely scenario given the current salary cap situation in Montreal and elsewhere.
The salary cap is the sticking point next season. It is likely to drop down to the 50 million range and that will leave a lot of teams that have over paid for pretty good (but again over hyped talent) and locked their players up in multi-year contracts.
Gainey will be one of the few general managers that will be able to evaluate his team in the off season without being in the cap crunch most others will be in. He can then window shop around the league at all the teams that are over the cap (read: desperate to dump salaries) to the point where Gainey will be able to set the terms. Yes he may lose some players that are good talents, but in the new world economy they may find they are not nearly worth what they thought they were, when many other talented players are being offered up for less.
Brian Burke in Toronto will have much the same luxury as they have dumped most of their over priced contracts over the past two season.
It is likely to be an interesting off season like we have not seen in a long time with a lot of Big names being offered up in deals. Should be fun to watch while we are sipping our beers and standing over the BBQ’s in the summer heat!