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HW Recap: 2 wins heading towards the trade deadline
HW Recap: 2 wins heading towards the trade deadline(2011-02-27 21:26 posted by B. La Rose)

In this week's HW Recap: A player who just came back from injury sits atop the Player Rankings, while the newest Bulldog led the way offensively for Hamilton.  Looking at the looming trade deadline, we clear up a couple of points with regards to the cap and roster space while the Final Thought discusses a conundrum that Pierre Gauthier is facing.

Player Rankings

Players are rated from 1 to however many players play on a weekly (non-cumulative) basis.  Rankings will be tracked weekly and averages provided. 

1) Mike Cammalleri: It didn't take too long for him to get back to scoring after returning from this injury.  Given how many games he has missed lately, he almost feels like a trade deadline acquisition. (Previous: 13  Average: 7.00)

2) Roman Hamrlik: When the team scores 11 goals in a week, it's hard to believe that he may have been the team leader in points.  In fact, he did (tied with Cammalleri), despite seeing his ice time curtailed as the week progressed. (Previous: 2  Average: 8.42)

3) Andrei Kostitsyn: Of the new lines deployed this week, his unit (and his production) were the most pleasant surprise.  He and Eller appear to have some chemistry while his board play was impressive as well. (Previous: 19  Average: 11.05)

4) Carey Price: He was crucial to the Habs' victory in Vancouver and although he got saddled with the loss against Toronto, he made some key saves to give Montreal a chance in that one as well. (Previous: 3  Average: 2.85)

5) Tomas Plekanec: He was quiet against Vancouver (on the road) but at home in two games, he had 3 points.  I can't explain it but he seems to be a different player at the Bell Centre. (Previous: 9  Average: 5.10)

6) P.K. Subban: He has done well to manage the extra minutes he's getting.  However, some of his moves are putting his teammates in less than ideal situations; it's one thing to keep the other team guessing but when the Habs don't know what he's going to do, it loses a lot of its effectiveness and can lead to penalties. (Previous: 7  Average: 8.00)

7) Lars Eller: He was moved back to his natural position and had one of his best weeks of the season.  Though a lot natural centres can adapt to the wing, it's safe to say he'll be most useful to Montreal at the pivot position. (Previous: 16  Average: 13.74)

8) Brian Gionta: My note last week about going into a slump may have been a little premature.  He scored a key goal against Vancouver and actually even managed to get an assist, his 2nd in over 2.5 months. (Previous: 11  Average: 6.50)

9) Max Pacioretty: Though he was shooting the puck a ton (including 9 against the Leafs alone), his physical game tailed off a little.  As the only player with actual size in the top-6, that won't go over well long-term. (Previous: 5  Average: 5.30)

10) Jeff Halpern: Considering he hasn't played the wing in a while, I was a little concerned about him shifting over to the right side.  The early results are certainly encouraging though. (Previous: 5  Average: 5.30)

11) James Wisniewski: Though not quite Bergeron-esque in the defensive end, he's slowly getting closer to that.  Fortunately, his offensive game and physical play helps to make up for those issues. (Previous: 12  Average: 7.75)

12) Hal Gill: With the theme of the week being blocked shots, it comes as little surprise to see him lead the team in this department with 9 over the 3 games.  (Previous: 20  Average: 15.10)

13) David Desharnais: Yes, he did score a nice goal in Vancouver but aside from that, he did very little aside from taking 2 dumb penalties against Carolina.  Every rookie has ups and downs though so I'm not too concerned yet. (Previous: 5  Average: 5.30)

14) Tom Pyatt: Yes, he only played the one game but played extremely well, he had several scoring chances, played well in his own end, while his speed complemented Pouliot and Desharnais well. (Previous: 18  Average: 16.58)

15) Paul Mara: He's looking like a more reliable 7th d-man option than Alexandre Picard which is beneficial moving forward the rest of this season.  I also like how he's sticking up for his teammates already, something this team lacks at times. (Previous: 14  Average: 14.50)

16) Brent Sopel: I thought he struggled a bit on Saturday in his debut, particularly in terms of handling the puck.  He's a better skater than I remembered though. (Previous: N/A  Average: 16.00)

17) Alex Auld: Yes, he struggled in both games but he managed to do enough to help the Habs get a win against Carolina.  That has to count for something. (Previous: N/A  Average: 9.78)

18) Yannick Weber: After having a great week, he came back down to earth with one of his shakier weeks of the season.  Nerves heading into the deadline, perhaps? (Previous: 1  Average: 14.92)

19) Benoit Pouliot: He was like Desharnais, just without the penalties...and the goal.  He had a couple good glimpses but too quiet otherwise. (Previous: 15  Average: 10.25) 

20) Scott Gomez: Though being re-united with Gionta worked in the short-term (mid-games), it wasn't quite as successful in full games.  Baby steps are fine as long as they are consistent but they weren't recently. (Previous: 4  Average: 10.30)

21) Ryan White: The scoresheets may some hits listed for him but frankly, I didn't see him attempt that many hits let alone actually connect.  His effort in the two games he played may have sealed his season fate...in Hamilton. (Previous: 22  Average: 18.00)

22) Travis Moen: The only real positive I can remember was against Toronto where he tried to defend Pouliot...and got a penalty before he could do so.  Very quiet otherwise. (Previous: 6  Average: 16.00)

The Dog Pound

The Bulldogs were able to climb back to at least a tie for first in the North Division, taking a 5-game point streak into Sunday's eventual loss to Grand Rapids.

Results:

February 21st: Rochester 4, Hamilton 3 (SO)
February 25th: Hamilton 4, Adirondack 1 (in Montreal)
February 26th: Hamilton 3, Syracuse 2
February 27th: Grand Rapids 5, Hamilton 2

StatPack:

The Bulldogs lost their active leading point getter but got an even more productive one in return as 'the new guy' made an immediate impact.

SKATERS

# Player GP G A +/- SH PIMS
4 Brendon Nash 4 1 1 +3 5 0
5 Alex Henry 4 0 1 -1 5 0
10 J.T. Wyman 4 1 0 E 9 6
12 Andrew Conboy 4 0 1 E 8 0
14 Olivier Fortier 4 0 4 E 7 0
15 Kyle Klubertanz 4 1 2 E 12 4
17 Dustin Boyd 4 0 2 E 8 2
18 Dany Masse 3 0 1 E 4 0
19 Ben Maxwell 1 0 1 E 2 0
19 Nigel Dawes 3 3 0 -1 8 0
20 Ryan Russell 1 0 0 E 0 0
22 Andreas Engqvist 4 0 2 -1 12 0
24 Ian Schultz 3 0 0 E 3 5
26 Alexander Avtsin 4 0 1 -1 4 2
28 Aaron Palushaj 4 3 0 +1 12 0
32 Frederic St. Denis 4 1 1 -1 5 0
40 Gabriel Dumont 4 1 1 +1 8 8
44 Jimmy Bonneau 4 1 0 E 3 9
61 Hunter Bishop 1 0 0 E 0 0
72 Mathieu Carle 4 0 2 E 9 4
85 Neil Petruic 4 0 0 -1 1 2

GOALIES

# Player Record SV% GAA
1 Curtis Sanford 1-0-1 .906 2.07
35 Robert Mayer 1-1-0 .919 3.02

SHOOTOUT - SKATERS

# Player G/ATT
19 Ben Maxwell 0/1
26 Alexander Avtsin 0/1
40 Gabriel Dumont 0/1
61 Hunter Bishop 0/1

SHOOTOUT - GOALIES

# Player SVS/ATT
1 Curtis Sanford 2/4

Leaders:

Goals: Nigel Dawes (30)
Assists: David Desharnais (35) (Active leader: Aaron Palushaj - 23)
Points: Nigel Dawes (47)
+/-: Brendon Nash (+15)
PIMS: Jimmy Bonneau (143)
Shots: Nigel Dawes (153)

Schedule:

March 2: Milwaukee vs Hamilton
March 5: Toronto vs Hamilton
March 6: Hamilton vs Toronto

Deadline Preparation

Some quick notes heading into the deadline:

- According to our capsheet, the Habs have a little under $1.85 million in a full season cap hit to add.  At this time, Jaroslav Spacek has not formally been placed on LTIR, his MRI is reportedly scheduled for Monday.  Those results will determine whether he can be placed or not.  If he is indeed out for the season which has been widely speculated, his full season cap hit can be added to the ~$1.85 M, giving the team roughly $5.6 M that they can take on.

- At any given time, an NHL club can only carry 50 active contracts (called the Reserve List).  The Habs currently have 50.  However, as long as none of Phillipe Lefebvre, Louis Leblanc, and Alexander Avtsin play no more than 9 games with the Habs between now and the end of the season, those contracts will "slide" off the Reserve List.  Even still, the Habs at max can only add 3 more players between trades and any collegiate free agents whose contracts would be effective this season.

- The last 4 deadline moves by the Habs have all fallen either before or at noon EST.  Last year's pickup of Aaron Palushaj was early in the morning, as was their acquisition of Todd Simpson in 2006.  The 2008 trade of Cristobal Huet fell just before noon EST while Michael Leighton's waiver claim in 2007 was made official exactly at noon. 

Final Thought

Heading into Monday's trade deadline, Pierre Gauthier will once again be faced with a conundrum lots of GM's face every year.  The Habs aren't just 1 player away from contending, so do you buy or stay pat?  Heck, do you consider selling?  As fans, we're always secretly hoping our team is a buyer and often proclaim instead of dealing picks, to "sell the farm."  But that in itself presents a new situation of sorts for Gauthier.

For those of you don't follow the Hamilton Bulldogs with regularity, let me sum up their success thus far.  Curtis Sanford.  That's it, especially with players like Pacioretty, Weber, and Desharnais up full-time with the Habs...or with a new team come 3 PM Monday.  The Bulldogs aren't in a position to lose any more players and stay competitive.

As a result, dealing 1 player may kill a playoff run and slow the development of a lot of the Habs' better prospects.  So if you're not 1 player away, is it worth the potential longer term woes to add that extra depth guy?  There's no right or wrong answer, but it's something that needs to be considered.  I suspect that Gauthier may try to hedge his bets; if he moves a Bulldog, he may either try to get a replacement in the trade (like we saw with Maxwell-Dawes) or to make a separate small move (either a trade or AHL loan).  But one thing's for sure, it's never as simple as merely "selling the farm."

If you have any questions regarding this article or the capsheet, please feel free to drop me a line at b.larose@habsworld.net.



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