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Roman Cechmanek’s bargaining position has become tenuous with Mathieu Garon’s arrival in L.A. Garon could be a starter there. If Ceechmanek wants to remain a King he will have to show it at the bargaining table. He will lower his price, if current markets are any indication of current value.  


GM’s are practical people. Their jobs depend on being able to read markets and adjust the value of their assets accordingly. They are approaching the UFA market during this off-season differently than we are accustomed to seeing.


Otherwise the cheaper and capable Garon will be the new show in town. He may not be elite yet, but with experience he may well be. Replacing expensive proven players with youth is a risk GM’s are beginning to take more often. Watching Fedorov go didn’t hurt Detroit that much. Losing Bill Guerin didn’t kill Boston. Who had a better year? Fedorov or Datsyuk? Guerin or Murray? Whose teams had better years? Even if it was a wash, Boston and Detroit come out ahead. 


Didn’t hurt one iota


Losing Audette and Czerkawski didn’t hurt the Canadiens one iota. It only meant that more places opened up on the roster for real players.


Believe me, owners don’t mind taking this risk. It doesn’t hurt the pocketbook to wave a UFA goodbye. There are always more players of the younger and cheaper variety. At least, this is often the case.


Has the lockout affected prices? I’m not so sure. If Matvichuk’s recent signing is an indication I would say no. The players are losing the war in the wage room with or without the lockout.


Players must know by now the public is against their inflated salaries. Labor disputes are often matters of public opinion as much as actual fact. Some players are seeing the writing on the wall, no matter what Colin Campbell says. 


Some might argue that players simply don’t want to leave North America. The length of the deals being signed though would prove them wrong. The NHL is not going to be locked out for three to four years. Matvichuk is now worth less than two million a season for the next four years. The evidence speaks for itself doesn’t it? This is a salary adjustment due to shrinking demand for UFA’s.


Mark Recchi and Brian Rolston are worth three million each for a three years. Three years ago they would have made much more money. L.A. overpaid to get Craig Conroy at 3.1 million a season. I don’t care if they are finally rid of Jason Allison — they just shot themselves in the foot (again) by overpaying for Conroy. They could easily have had him for 2.4 million. Last year Recchi made 75 points in the regular season to Conroy’s 47. Conroy played with Jerome Iginla most of the year.


Do the new math


Clearly owners and GM’s have had enough of overpaying their players. 


Now I freely admit being against UFA signings. I haven’t been interested in them for several years. They rarely strengthen a franchise, if winning is the ultimate goal. Winning is something that a GM plans on a 3-8 year scale, not a 1-2 year one. Building, not buying, is the key to success.


So, UFA’s cost big money but they don’t insure a good return on the investment. How many Stanley Cups has Bill Guerin won? Cujo? Belfour? Selanne? Kariya? Among those five, a grand total of two. In fact, if you look at the UFA list list year, only a few of the remaining players have won a cup in the last 5 seasons.


Why do managers want these guys again? It would be nice, but just nice, to have a UFA.


Unrestricted free agents deal largely in their reputations, but their reputations are being tarnished by lack of productivity on the other end of the signing bonus. You have to be a really special player to keep your skills late into your career, not just a good one.


UFA’s are now risky business


Therefore, I don’t really care whether or not Bob Gainey signs a UFA this offseason. It would be nice to get Kovalev or Murray but it won’t necessarily help the organization as a whole. Instead, let those guys dangle until they realize that they can only get three or four million a year. They will take it in the end and the NHL, not to mention Canadian based teams, will be better for it.


What is going to hurt the Canadiens the most in the next few years are the Brisebois and Rivet contracts. Rivet’s price is higher than any of the signings in this article. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? If we weren’t burdened with his contract, we could be looking at Richard Matvichuk right now.


Oh the Humanity.


If Korpikari works out I wonder if we will keep Rivet. He is, after all, in a tenuous position.