One Step Forward and Two Steps Back!
For the most part, the frenzy of free agent signings has come and gone. And once again the Montreal Canadiens have nothing to show for it. However, I sincerely believe the organization made every effort to sign quality players to improve the club. For various reasons they were not able to land any big name free agents. This is not the end of the world.
I think it would be a mistake to overpay or sign players like they did with Samsonov. Now I was under the assumption that the Canadiens were entering into year 4 of a 5 year rebuilding process and the players that they signed, for the most part make no sense if this is indeed the case. Now it is a no-brainer that Gainey, Carbonneau and Co. understand this game much better than myself but to me the likes of Smolinski and Kostopolous are not upgrades, they are fillers.
I would think Smolinski is the type of player that a team might want to add for depth for the playoffs. I keep hearing that Smolinski provides offence and size. Last time I checked, the most points he has amassed was 64 in 1995/96 playing on an offensive powerhouse with Lemieux, Jagr, Francis, Nedved, Sandstrom and Zubov. And I don’t care how big he is, he is another soft player. Arguments will be made that he is a more versatile, cheaper replacement for Radek Bonk. He definitely is a cheaper version. To me that says that Kyle Chipchura is either not ready or not good enough to make the transition to the parent club.
As for Tom Kostopolous, this is even more mind boggling. I’m not quite sure what he brings to the table as far as strengths. He is a career minus 29 joining a team full of minus players. Unless he is going to play in Hamilton for $900,000 a season I’m not quite sure what his role is.
Perhaps I will eat my words and the reason they signed these players was that they are looking to make a trade and will need bodies.
I still don’t understand as Hamilton was the Calder Cup Champions and Gainey has mentioned the names of Chipchura, Grabovski and OByrne possibly being able to make the transition to the parent club.
To me Hamrlik wasn’t the worst acquisition. I believe they overpaid but apparently that was the market value. On the upside he is a defensive upgrade and can help mentor the younger defencemen.
At this point I don’t see the Canadiens as an improved club from last season. They will struggle to make the playoffs, especially with rival teams improving.
If the Habs are indeed behind schedule I would rather see them go with youth and see if some of their prospects are NHL capable. Save the cap money for next year or for a trade.