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Pierre Gauthier created a minor surprise when, earlier this week, he acquired free agent defencemen Chris Campoli. With Andrei Markovís status uncertain for the start of the year, the teamís difficult pre-season and the underwhelming camps of Alexei Yemelin and Yannick Weber, the general manager clearly felt he needed to obtain an insurance policy. Our writers offer up their thoughts on the most recent acquisition.
Matt Dilworth: With Andrei Markov seemingly unable to make Montreal's season opener on October 6th, this signing makes a lot of sense. Although Chris Campoli is by no means blessed with Markov-ian talent, he is fully capable of filling a certain void until the General's return. Alexei Yemelin, Rafael Diaz, Jeff Woywitka and Yannick Weber have all shown encouraging play at times, but the truth is that Campoli's game is more established at this point and is a reliable, safer bet. Additionally, Campoli may be driven by Chicago's rejection after his arbitration, and as a result, put up some decent numbers for the Canadiens. While this may help the team in general, Campoli might also become attractive to other teams near the trade deadline and bring in draft picks and/or prospects. With plenty of cap space, I deem it a no-brainer for GM Gauthier to bolster the blue-line in this fashion.
Brian La Rose: I've never been a big Campoli fan but he was probably the best defenceman left in free agency. It's better that the Habs sign him now than go trade another draft pick for a similar player at some point during the season. I like that he can handle playing more than 3rd pairing minutes and that his mobility will go well with the Habs' quicker forwards. But, he'll do little to help with the physical side of the game while he is mistake prone in his own end. The best part of this signing may not even be seen for a while though as this should allow Raphael Diaz (and possibly even Alexei Yemelin) to get acclimated to playing in North America with the Bulldogs instead of having the inevitable growing pains with the Habs.
Louis Moustakas: As my colleagues above point out, the acquisition of Campoli allows the team a safer alternative than many of the youngsters currently contending for a spot on the blueline and helps avoid a situation where, like last year, assets are scarified ad nauseam to placate holes on the backend. Furthermore, his arrival can only serve to light a fire under the likes of Alexei Yemelin, Rafael Diaz, Jeff Woywitka and Yannick Weber. By all accounts, none of the aforementioned players have especially impressed over the past two weeks. With a veteran of nearly 400 NHL games breathing down their necks, that seem destined to change.
Norm Szcyrek: The signing of Campoli is truly just an insurance move by Pierre Gauthier. With Markov out for an undetermined period of time, and with P.K Subban rumoured to have an unknown injury, the Habs need someone to handle the offence from the blueline. There appears to be little confidence that inexperienced players like Weber, Yemelin, or Diaz can provide that level of support. Campoli appears to be a one-dimensional defenceman, but time will tell if he resembles more James Wisniewski or Marc-Andre Bergeron.
- Canadiens sign Campoli to 1-year pact; Habs cut 10, waive Trotter posted by Louis Moustakas