Habs Pre Free Agent Draft Buzz by Jamie Gilcig – Do you keep Price & Markov? Subban?

carey priceCFN – It’s funny.  In the 90’s when I created one of the first Rotisserie Style Hockey systems many of the theories that are now present in the Salary Cap era are now in place.

It’s harder to make some trades and it’s harder to fill holes via Free Agency.    Generally when a good player hits the free market they are signed for a premium; usually to a team either that has been run really well and has cap space that season or a team needing to revamp like Minnesota did last season signing Suter and Parise.

Managing the cap is a skill than many of our current NHL GM’s clearly are lacking.   Looking at Anaheim’ s two signings last year of Perry and Getzlaf was very sad as it puts the team in a precarious position.

Washington, with such a heavy cap hit with Ovechkin is a team that simply has limited options.  When you have that big a hit with one player he’s your horse; your star, and your fate is all dependent on his performance.    As a team you need to find the right players that will let him excel while still balancing keeping enough talent on the team to compete at the highest levels.

The Habs are in a funny position.   Personally I am not a fan of spending a lot of dollars on the goalie position.  Goalies are not only kinda goofy and inconsistent generally; but they are hugely dependent on the team in front of them and the style they play.

So I have to ask myself if I’m a GM if I truly want to invest the bucks that Carey is making?   Some would say yet; some would say no.  Some would say Carey is still young; some would say he’s from BC and BC players are kinda goofy too.

Personally I have never been a huge fan of Mr. Price.  I give him full credit for what he’s done and accomplished with the teams he’s played for.    He is not a bad goalie at all.   I just don’t think he’s a Habs goalie.   I think Jaroslav Halak was.   I think Jonathan Bernier could be.  Either way if I could trade Carey and his contract I would in a NY minute.

A lot of people are praising GM Marc Bergevin and Coach Michel Therrien this year.  I’m not really one of them.   I think Mr. Bergevin was very careful and conservative and I think he either knew his squad was not made for the playoffs or ready or simply could not pull off the right deal?   The Gainey era saw an improvement from the Houle era.  While it collapsed like a souffle there was a foundation for Bergevin to build from.

As for Michel Therrien I think his sound bites in the play offs were embarrassing.   I think that he showed some of the reasons why Pittsburgh dumped him.    Is he a bad coach?  No.  Is he a good coach? Sure.  Is he a Stanley Cup Habs type of coach?  Nope.     Montreal is hard on coaches.  Therrien is on his second tour with the team, Claude Julien just may win another Stanley Cup with Boston and it looks like Alain Vigneault is about to land in NY after putting up great seasonal records but flunking in the Play Offs.

It’s not easy to coach in Montreal.    But you have to be a Playoff focused coach and if I’m Montreal I’m already looking for a replacement for Therrien.

As a GM what’s the biggie?  Building a regular season team that will make the Playoffs or building a team that’s primed for Lord Stanley’s Cup?   I know my answer would be the second.  Is that the Habs?

Mr. Bergevin took over a team with some bright spots and some less bright spots.

He has no clear number one centre.   Up the middle Tomas Plekanec is having to play some huge minutes against top competition.  That’s a lot of wear and tear and I swear this poor guy has never had a great winger he could click with.  I think if the Habs could find a 1B or 1A centre Mr. Plekanec’s offensive numbers would rise.  Great player with a good contract for today’s NHL.

Giving Desharnais that contract was boggling.    I’m not sure it’s even tradeable.  How many times has he been bounced off of pucks?   Cliff Ronning light?  How many rings did Mr. Ronning wear at the end of his career?   I know I’m being hard; but that contract will hurt his career in the end, not help.

Dumping the Erik Cole deal may have been good cap thinking; but Pacioretty and Desharnais did not repeat their years with Cole.   Montreal needs some beef to play with the two or another centre.  Max is someone you can build on and he now has a stable contract for the team to build around him.  He’s a keeper.

Can Brian Gionta be traded back to New Jersey or anywhere else with his $5M cap hit?  If he stays in Montreal does he have what it takes to put up some big numbers in what probably will be his last contract year?

Rene Bourque if he isn’t injured also has a role to fill on the team.  His potential mix of scoring and grit are tantalizing.  David Clarkson light without the $5-6M cap hit.

Alex Galchenyuk needs to move to Centre, perhaps between Pacioretty and a winger to be named later.  He has two full years now on his EL contract to prove himself and not be sheltered like last year.  It’s showtime!   He’s going to need to show consistent grit and production if he’s to prove to be a top six Centre.

Brandon Prust earned his contract and gives this team a spark it was missing.  I think he was a huge facet in the team turning around last season and his breaking down late the year was a factor in their slide.

Travis Moen did not have a Travis Moen type season.   Not sure I’d bring him back if I could improve.

Lars Eller will never be a top six forward. He does have the potential to be a really good 3rd liner though.   Contract season and recovering from his injury will mean he’s a huge question mark for the team next year.

Defense has two huge question marks.    Andrei Markov will never have higher trade value to Montreal.   Never.   It’s the smart move to trade him, and frankly this team does not look to be a Cup contender next season.  Mr. Markov has never really been a play off performer too.   Great defenseman; but geez you can fill some holes with his value now.

PK Subban.  What a player.  What talent.  His first Norris award.   Is he your franchise player?  Is he your future?  Do you want to give him the big contract because if you don’t you’re in trouble.  Those are the questions the Habs have to answer in their hearts.   Right now a team like Philly would hugely over pay for PK.   You can’t afford two PK’s on your team so before you marry long term that is the question you have to ask yourself.

Frankly I like PK.  I think the Habs should be “The Flying Frenchmen” even if the players aren’t French.   PK is exciting.  He’s a tougher Doug Harvey.   He’s a game changer and a star.   Can the Habs lock him up for 5 years at $6M?  Would you commit to those dollars?

If the answer is yes then you better sign him and then build your D corps around him.

Josh Gorges.   Great guy.  I think he needs to be your 4th or 5th D man to be really effective.   He’s an odd player in that he brings a lot intangibles to the team; but at the end of the year other than shot blocking his numbers aren’t really that exciting.   I thought the contract was a bit high, but not as bad as Desharnais.

Alex “Boom Boom” Emelin; hope this guy comes back from injury.  Habs can use an extra one of these and think Emelin has some potential to grow and develop as a player.   Was a great combo with Markov.  Again not sure he’s a top two D man.

Raphael Diaz?   Geez I have no idea about this guy.   Montreal must see something I don’t.    I think his early season success, like much of Montreal’s had to do with teams getting back from the lock out and speed and youth having a jump on everyone.  As the season wore on guys got more into game shape and the closer to the end of the season the more play off hockey took over which hurt much of the Habs best performers up to that time.

And that gets back to the premise of building a team for the play offs.  Just look at the four finalists this season.  Size, speed, talent, depth, and good goaltending; usually not with a larger than $5M cap hit.

Montreal doesn’t fit that bill right now.

The good news some interesting options might open up.   Tampa might have to bite the bullet and let Vinny Lecavlier be bought out which gives Montreal their number one target.   A tandem of Vinny and Plecky up the middle would bode will for Hab fans.

Danny Briere will be available too, as will some interesting players due to the cap being cut back to $64.3 M this season.

Montreal only picks at number 25 this year.  Although it’s a deep draft crop Trevor Timmins will have his work cut out for him.

Montreal picks currently  25th, 34th, 36th, 55th, 71st, 86th, 116th, 146th, 176th, and 206th.

It has some elements that could be in play.   This is the make or break career for Marc Bergevin.   It’s his acid test to define what type of GM he will be.   For him to have been successful he will have to make this team a clear playoff contender with hope of moving past round one while restocking the shelves.

Playing Arm Chair GM I trade Carey Price, Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta, and unless I love him, PK Subban.

There are some bad contracts on other teams that fit in Montreal which needs to get bigger faster; especially up the middle.

Line One

Pacioretty   Plekanec   Gallagher

Line Two

Bourque   Galchenyuk    ?

Line Three

Prust  Eller   ?

Line Four

?    ?   Ryan White

D Pairs

Subban Tinordi

Gorges ?

Boullion Diaz


?  Budaj

On the farm there are not a lot of bright spots.   Danny Kristo has had good numbers but is….small.   Tim Bozon is a bit bigger, Charles Hudon, also small.    On Defense Nathan Beaulieu shows some promise as a puck moving d man.  Darren Dietz is showing huge offensive potential and has some size.

Montreal is sorta rebuilding; or rebuilding the rebuild.  It’s not as bad as Calgary; but not as good as some people thought the team was last year.

If Bergevin has a weak off season the Habs don’t make the playoffs – an average one they do and a good one means they go past round one.

What do you think Hab fans?

You can post your comments below.

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  1. well said .They have alot of work to do and need some bait to do it .Trade markov and Moen for sure and go from there.

  2. I think you’re short-sighted on a couple of points. First off, let’s assume David Desharnais had an off second year as is entirely possible. Signing him to that contract which is pretty affordable for a guy who will undoubtedly provide 50ish points and is quebec-born is a must. Yes he is very small, but the pros outweigh the cons.

    Second, how can you say that Lars Eller will never be a second line center? At any rate he can be a very important offensive force for this team. Considering his improvement this year it’s not a stretch to assume he will amass around 50 points also over the course of a full year.

    Combine that with Plekanec you have a couple of centermen who can provide 2nd grade offense. Add Galchenyuk to that mix, evidently someone has to move to the wing, but who will that be?

    I concede that trading Markov would be tempting, but reading this


    convinces otherwise.

    I say we need not touch a thing aside from a top-9 forward with size if we can find one. Tinordi will probably come in early next season in replacement for Emelin. I would also look for a right-handed stay-at-home defensemen with good enough size to complement our group, as I feel we need to counterbalance the many lefties there.

    All in all, let’s regroup and refocus for next year.

  3. Author

    Welcome to CFN David. Look at the 2nd line centre’s on top teams. Heck Jordan Staal was a 3rd line centre for Pittsburgh. Who would you rather have? Staal or Eller? Lars really doesn’t play out at more than a 40-50 point guy. Sure he may have a good year here or there; but he’s more suited to the 3rd line.

    The Habs have to up the ante if they want to be considered an elite team.

  4. your jordan staal argument doesnt make sense. he was third line center behind malkin and crosby.. anybody in the nhl would be 3rd line center playing behind these guys. jordan staal is a second line center, hence why he left the pens. i dont think you followed the habs this year to declaire that eller is capped at 3rd line… im questioning your knowlege big time.. i think your pretty dumb actually, this thread doesnt make sense.

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