Marc Bergevin’s first full year as a GM came and went back in May and it was
quite the busy season for him. In
part one of his evaluation, the focus was on his many staff hires and early
contracts into free agency. In this section, his in-season moves will be
looked at as well as some important decisions that were made prior to the
beginning of training camp.
Instead of covering every re-signing that occurred past July 2nd, only the significant RFA contracts
will be assessed. I’m also going to skip over the Nash-DeSantis trade as
it was too minor to possible affect his overall grade.
July 3 – May 1, 2013
Pacioretty extension (August 14): One of the few highlights
from the 2011-12 campaign was Max Pacioretty’s emergence as a legitimate scorer
in the NHL. Despite having a rather short track record (and another year
on his existing deal), Bergevin didn’t hesitate to lock up the winger long-term,
signing him to a six year deal with a $4.5 M cap hit. The deal bought out
his remaining two RFA years and his first four seasons of UFA eligibility.
Grade: Pacioretty showed this year that his breakout campaign wasn’t a
fluke. Although the contract doesn’t kick in until next season, it’s looking
like a good one so far. B+
Hamilton veterans (August – October): With what was looking to
be a very young roster going into a season where all the teams would be boosted
by NHL’ers from the lockout, the Bulldogs were going to need some veterans to
help shoulder the load. Instead they got Darryl Boyce and Zack Stortini.
One got released early while the other one really should have been let go but
instead spent the year as a mediocre fourth liner.
Grade: I get that management wanted the kids to get prime playing time
but they still could have had that with some actual useful veterans. The
rookies were overwhelmed early and that helped send them into a losing spiral
all year. D-
Gomez sent home (January 13): Of all of the moves that Bergevin
made to this point, this is the one that I think caught most people by surprise. It had
long been assumed that he was going to be one of the two compliance buyouts, but
that he was going to have to deal with a minor role with Montreal this year or
possibly even in Hamilton. No one figured they’d tell him to stay home.
Fortunately for the team they were able to use the buyout early and avoid any
potential repercussions had the NHLPA gone ahead with their grievance.
Grade: The Habs were able to avoid the potential distraction of having
Gomez around while still getting the cap relief they would have had they sent
him to Hamilton. Any time you pay a player millions of dollars to go away
can’t be considered a win but they made the best of what was a bad situation.
Subban signs (January 28): After failing to agree on a deal
before the lockout, the holdout continued into the first few games of the
season. Subban was firm on wanting a long-term pact, the Habs wanted a
bridge contract. In the end, Montreal got their way as Subban inked a two
year, backloaded bridge deal that carries a cap hit of $2.875 M but will ensure
that he receives a qualifying offer of at least $3.75 M following the 2013-14
Grade: I thought this was handled relatively well. Yes, he’ll
have a higher cap hit in a couple of years time when he signs his long-term deal
but at the same time, the Habs will have him longer as a result. The
shorter cap hit also allows them to have a bit more cap space in this upcoming
Desjardins dealt (February 14): Yes, it’s a Hamilton trade but
given that the Habs were able to acquire Dustin Tokarski, also known as a
legitimate goalie prospect, it’s worth mentioning. Tokarski was terrific
upon his arrival with the Bulldogs and gave them a chance to win a lot of the
games he started. Given the uncertainty surrounding Peter Budaj at the
time, it was looking like Tokarski might have a shot at the backup role next
year (although Budaj has since extended).
Grade: Desjardins wasn’t helping Hamilton at the time and would have
walked as a free agent in July. Tokarski helped the Bulldogs and with a
few years of RFA status left, has the chance to help them (and maybe the Habs if
injuries arise) beyond this past season. A
Cole-Ryder swap (February 26): Prior to the trade deadline,
this deal was arguably the biggest of the season. Cole, who had a terrific
2011-12 season, was scuffling out of the gate while Ryder, despite his
weaknesses, was having another typical quality campaign in terms of his
production. Bergevin also acquired a 3rd round pick (71st overall) in the
upcoming draft while getting out of the final two years of Cole’s contract.
Grade: Ryder provided an extra punch offensively (at least until the
playoffs) that Cole was unable to provide – he continued to struggle with the
Stars – while the team freed up some much needed cap space along the way.
Had Cole stayed and continued to play the way he did, it’s a strong possibility
his deal would have got the second buyout. With that in mind, getting any
sort of value, especially someone who could help the team right away, was
Desharnais’ extension (March 15): The diminutive centre was off
to another decent start to the season coming off his career year the season
before. Bergevin inked him to a four year pact with a cap hit of $3.5 M,
buying out his first three UFA years. Unfortunately his production fell
off shortly after the deal was signed and he struggled considerably down the
Grade: No one saw the drop in production coming and I don’t think it’s
fair to suggest that he’ll play like he did at the end of the year for the
duration of the contract; he should bounce back somewhat. That said, it
seemed a bit pricey at the time and obviously still does now although it
shouldn’t be an contract that can’t be traded if need be. C
Bouillon’s extension (March 20): With Bouillon playing a
greater role than expected plus his history with Michel Therrien, it wasn’t all
that surprising when he was given a one year extension at $1.5 M, the same
amount he signed for back in July. He was expected to play a lesser role
at the time (but played more than many gathered) and going into next year, it
appears that remains the expectation.
Grade: Veteran defencemen are a valuable commodity and given the
relative inexperience on the roster and in the system, one more year as a bridge
to the Hamilton youngsters isn’t a bad idea. He’s a 3rd pairing player and
that’s probably what some 3rd pairing d-men will get next month as UFA’s. B-
Halpern claimed (March 23): The Habs had a need for someone who
could win some faceoffs and help on the penalty kill and the trade deadline was
fast approaching. Halpern was capable of aiding in both departments and
all it cost to acquire him was the waiver fee of $3,375.
Grade: Had they not claimed Halpern, they likely would have moved a
draft pick to acquire a similar player at the deadline. He fit in
relatively well too, I certainly wouldn’t be against him returning next year.
Drewiske acquired, only deadline move (April 2): Depth on
defence is something most playoff teams need and with some of the youngsters
struggling in their first stints with the big club, spending a 5th rounder to
‘rent’ Drewiske made some sense. As it turns out, this was the only move
made at the deadline as Bergevin was content to stand pat; the team wasn’t a
player or two away from strongly contending.
Grade: Value wise, what they gave up for Drewiske was fine, you won’t
find many saying they overpaid dearly. It would have been nice to add at
least another depth player (some went pretty cheap) while some would argue that
one more impact player really could have made a difference. C+
Budaj extended (April 10): Budaj, after a horrible start to the
year, really played well and was one of the better backups in the league for a
good part of the season. His new deal (two years at a cap hit of $1.4 M)
is a small step up from what he was earning on his last two year pact. His
contributions in the locker room and his rapport with Price certainly helped him
get this new contract as well.
Grade: With the cap decreasing, Montreal could have tried to save a
bit of money and go with a lesser quality backup. I still feel Budaj is
one of the better backups in the game so it’s okay to pay a tad extra for a
better option. B
Overall Grade: All in all, it was a successful year for
Bergevin, many of his moves either panned out or look like they will provide
good value in the future. No GM is ever going to be perfect in their
decisions, as long as you’re making more right decisions than wrong ones, you’re
doing alright. A lot of Bergevin’s moves look to be right decisions at
this point so I’m giving him a solid B+ grade for his rookie campaign.