This statement should surprise no-one who has believed my other columns by now: Bob Gainey has still not traded for a quality player. Although the last time I wrote was quite some time ago, I have not followed up with another article since nothing has changed. Gainey is still doing what I said he would do, scouting talent at the NHL level. As boring as it may seem, I’m happy with this.
This past week-end he may have tried moving Perreault yet again, but, what a surprise, there were no takers. He will be lucky to get a third rounder at the trading deadline. Even if a deal for Perreault can be reached the habs would still need Yanic to waive his no trade clause for it to be processed.
Considering the position the franchise is in, he doesn’t need to look too hard for a fit. Gainey does not need to improve immediately. There is not enough pressure being put on him from any corner. No-one is expecting the cup this year. I don’t anticipate him overpaying for Jeff O’Neill or Jason Arnott. Neither trade will help this franchise in the long-run. O’Neill might be a good fit short-term, but where will he be when we are contending in 3 to five years? Well, in five years he will still be expensive, still be going downhill, and taking a roster spot away from a then developed player like Perezhogin.
So, what precisely is Bob Gainey doing? Everyone is looking for a move from him, as if to say that he is in a buyers position. That’s a big bad load. Mr. Gainey is benefiting from the numbers game, so expect more of the same.
The numbers game can be won in a few different ways. Each way requires patience.
The longer we wait, the more assets the habs retain. While those assets are Canadians property, Gainey is still in the drivers seat. Youth is the keyword for the NHL this year, and Gainey has the key to the treasure-chest.
Not Chicago, not Pittsburgh, not Washington. If Hockeysfuture.com is to be believed, Montreal has the best prospect depth in the NHL , and a large part of that depth is in the AHL on the Bulldogs. While Bob Clarke and Glen Sather make largely cosmetic moves, Gainey can sit back and relax, confident that he has the necessary power to change the face of the Habs right in Hamilton. No worries in Habs world. Our time is not come yet.
He is also profiting financially. Currently, the most popular of the Habs in trading circles must be: Souray, Ribeiro, Markov, Komisarek, Dagenais, likely in that order. This is almost exclusively due to cost effectiveness. Souray, Dagenais and Ribeiro, in particular, are making far less money than their current play would warrant, and the lot of them are several seasons away from UFA status , several of them are also due for pay raises when their contracts run out at the end of this season. Not bad for three guys who didn’t get a real NHL shift last year.
The combined salaries of Souray, Dagenais, Ribeiro, Markov, Ryder and Komisaruk equal 5.982. One million a player. Not bad for the young guys, eh? Our top three point scorers are in that bunch. So is our best defenseman. If Dagenais played a full season, would he have made 30 goals?
We are blowing money on Rivet and Brisebois, and although Koivu may seem expensive we can afford him. The contribution of players who make very little comparatively has lightened the load. In case anyone is wondering, Zednik is closing in on 30 goals again, for a paltry 1.8 million.
What does this mean? It means we will have a thirty-goal scorer this year, maybe two next year, who are much cheaper than O’Neill combined. It means we will have a second line center with significantly more offensive upside than Jason Arnott. It means there are not many good fits out there, tradewise, for us. We do need a better Left Winger on the top line. Bulis needs to learn to score if he is going to stay there. Dagenais may not be around next year. But those are small worries when the farm is bursting with talent.
Economics and youth are on our side, and Bob, for the moment, seems happy to stay the course. When we are economically fit, then perhaps we will look to adding a big player or two. But, right now, we don’t need that body, because we are not going over the top.
Just as a sober reminder, Audette and Czerkawski did get bought out this year. Why would we commit more money when our chances of making the playoffs are good?