After Mathieu Carle rejected his qualifying offer of $726,000 from the Habs
late last week, the writing was on the wall for his departure. It didn’t
take long for him to be moved as less than 24 hours after the qualifying offer
deadline passed, he was on his way to Anaheim for Mark Mitera. Our writers
have pondered the move and weigh in with their thoughts on how this will affect
both Montreal and Hamilton.
Matt Dilworth: At first glance, it looks like Anaheim and
Montreal were just interested in giving 2 similar defencemen a change of
scenery. And although that may prove to be the case, there are subtle details
that make me pleased with the return for Carle. Carle was seemingly stagnating
in Hamilton, and missed his opportunity to make the big club a few times when
players like P.K. Subban and Yannick Weber outperformed him. With those two
likely locking down roster spots for years to come, and with Josh Gorges
(hopefully) taking the last right defence spot, there wasn’t much hope that
Carle would be getting a genuine chance anytime soon, barring injuries. Mark
Mitera plays left defence, and with Hal Gill and/or Jaroslav Spacek (presumably)
retiring in the next few years, there is a pressing need to build depth in that
position. Factor in Mitera’s bigger frame, physical presence, and Carle’s
injury-prone status and I think the Canadiens win this trade… small victory
that it may be.
Brian La Rose: Moving out Carle was something that clearly
needed to be done. The Habs had invested four years in his pro development
with limited success, while getting a change of scenery is just what the doctor
ordered for the former 2nd rounder. What surprised me the most is that the
Habs were able to get someone who still has some upside and most importantly to
me, a year left of waiver exemption in Mitera. That extra exemption year
allows Montreal to buy a little more time for his development, especially with
there being seven NHL D under contract (when Gorges signs). Is Mitera
going to be a top flight defenceman in the NHL? Probably not. Could
he be a serviceable 3rd pairing player with a full year of development in
Hamilton? I think there’s a better chance that he makes that jump than if
Carle stayed for this coming season. Because of that, I like the deal for
Putting my Hamilton cap on for a moment, I’m not as optimistic on their end.
As much as we can say Carle had basically fizzled as a prospect with the Habs,
there’s no denying he was a key piece for the Bulldogs in their playoff runs in
recent years. He had a hand in all facets of the game, something that
Mitera didn’t in 2010-11 and probably won’t this year. To start the
season, Mitera is ideally on the 3rd pairing, the role he had with Syracuse.
The problem is, they already have a pair of 3rd pairing guys in rapidly
declining veteran Alex Henry and rookie Joe Stejskal while losing a top-4
blueliner in Kyle Klubertanz back in June. Someone’s going to have to play
more minutes than they can handle at the beginning of the year which could lead
to some scary moments from a team severely lacking in depth on the back end (as
it presently stands).
Louis Moustakas: This trade reminds me of the Guillaume
Latendresse – Benoit Pouliot deal in a lot of ways. Two teams swapped
somewhat underachieving players and, like with Pouliot, Montreal ends up with
the more highly touted, former first round pick. Mitera’s development was
undoubtedly set back by an injury suffered in his last year of college, forcing
him to play all but ten games in the 2008-09 campaign. But, if he can keep
his progress on track, the Michigan native could eventually round out into the
physical, solid shut down defensemen he was projected to become.
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he certainly has the tools to do so.
As for Carle, he clearly did not fit into the teams’ plans anymore.
With players like Brendon Nash as well as recent signings Raphael Diaz and
Alexei Yemelin seemingly ahead of him on the depth chart, it is clear Carle
would not be afforded much of a chance with the big club. In addition,
with the likes of Subban, Weber, Markov and Diaz already in the organization,
Montreal already has a decent supply of more offensively minded, puck moving
Ian Russell: Acquiring Mitera is a definite upgrade on the
defence for the Bulldogs. At 6-3 and 210 pounds, he is approaching Alex Henry’s
towering size and weight. What could be better than having two monster
defencemen on the blueline? Mark Mitera is a "defensive defenceman" whose
potential, I feel, has been disrupted by being bounced around in the AHL to San
Antonio and then Abbotsford (including also a 36-game stint in Bakersfield of
the ECHL) when his first team, the Iowa Chops, had their franchise operations
suspended by the AHL, forcing the Iowa roster of players to scatter to wherever
they could play with other teams. (That’s a story for another time.) When the
Anaheim Ducks took control of the Syracuse Crunch last season, Mitera finally
had a solid playing platform under him and I am expecting even better things
from him now that he is part of the Habs organization.