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The ending may have been pretty, but the
majority of the week for the Montreal Canadiens was absolutely abysmal. 
Meanwhile, the Hamilton Bulldogs continued their hot streak and are now
contending for the division lead.  This week, we’ll focus more on the trade
deadline, and evaluate the likelihood of players being moved out rather than
give a bunch of miserable grades.  In our final thought segment, we’ll take
a look at what changes the GM’s are considering, and why the league is nuts to
bring these issues up, in the Recap.

Trade Factor

Here, we’ll take a look at each player, and
attempt to predict who could be on the move by the 27th deadline.


– Doubtful
– Unlikely, but possible
– Could happen
– Decent chance
– Almost certain

Although only one rating is given for each
player, in some cases, the likelihood will fall between 2 categories and will be
mentioned in the commentary.


David Aebischer:  If the Habs plan
on making a run for the playoffs, it’s not going to be with Jaroslav Halak
alone, they will need a veteran goalie presence.  However, should they
continue to struggle, there’s a slight chance someone will pick him up for
depth.  (2)

Cristobal Huet:  Given that he’s effectively done for the season, and
wasn’t playing particularly strong before then, it’s safe to say he won’t be
dealt.  (1)


Francis Bouillon:  Has been playing
much better of late, and may have piqued the interest of a couple of other teams
around the league.  But with the uncertainty of the status of 4 Hab
defenders (the UFA’s), something will have to happen before the 27th for him to
move.  (2)

Mathieu Dandenault:  Like Bouillon, has played fairly well, and his
experience (and a Cup ring) will have some teams phoning, but that uncertainly
still looms.  However, if 1 of the 4 defenders (3 if you don’t include
Streit) that aren’t UFA’s-to-be is going to do, I think it may be him. 

Mike Komisarek:  Given that the team isn’t anywhere close to
contending, the potential of him moving for a high-profile rental doesn’t exist. 
He’s staying.  (1)

Andrei Markov:  Whatever happened to the extension being close to
happening?  There will be teams inquiring, but the fact that they are
committed to retaining him long-term means the deal would have to be really good
for him to move.  (1)

Janne Ninnimaa:  He’s a depth defender, but an NHL-calibre one,
regardless of what some people will imply.  The fact that most of his
contract is paid up could potentially entice someone to move a late pick for
him, which the Canadiens may be well-suited to take.  (2)

Craig Rivet:  Health problems have sent pretty much any chance of him
moving down the drain, especially with the high(er) potential to get the illness
again.  He’ll get a couple of bites, but the offers will be lower than what
the market could generally fetch.  (2)

Sheldon Souray:  How close are Souray’s camp and the Habs money wise? 
That’s the biggest question concerning the team now, as Souray has the best
trade value of anyone on the team right now, regardless of his wrist issues. 
Even if the Habs are planning to make a run, they may get an offer too good to
refuse.  (4)


Steve Begin:  He’s the type of
player every team wants.  One of those teams is still the Habs, between
that and the fact he’s not 100% means he’s not likely on the move. 

Radek Bonk:  No one talks about him being too overpaid now, and teams
around the league have the same mindset.  Bonk would be a great addition to
a contending team, and with players like Lapierre and Chipchura in the system,
he could be deemed expendable, even if the Habs are staying in it.

Aaron Downey:  A dime-a-dozen player, most teams have a similar player
in their system, no need to make a trade for him. 

Chris Higgins:  Despite his scoring struggles, there’s no way the team
is giving up on him anytime soon.  (1)

Mike Johnson:  Another player who a lot of teams would be interested
in, but the Habs would be wise to try and keep him themselves.  If they
want to try and move him though, the market will likely warrant a decent return. 

Alexei Kovalev:  The timing of his decision to rest his injured
elbow/shoulder/ego has made it all but impossible to try and move him now…if
he was movable anyways.  (1)

Maxim Lapierre:  Has impressed management enough that he should have a
full-time spot next year, and that should quash any chances of him moving. 

Guillaume Latendresse:  Even though he’s been invisible for the last 6
weeks, he hasn’t played half bad and still warrants a spot on the team now, and
in the future…way too young to give up on.  (1)

Saku Koivu:  No-trade clause, and he won’t waive it.  ‘Nuff said. 

Garth Murray:  Teams could have had him for free and passed.  Even
if another team could move a salary back for him, most still wouldn’t be
interested.  (1)

Alexander Perezhogin:  His time in Montreal is dwindling, but he is
young enough that he still has some value.  If the team wants into a
rent-a-player situation, he will be tops on the list of a player to shop. 
2 weeks ago, he would’ve gotten a 4, but with the team struggling, the
possibility of a rental situation drops, as do his chances of moving. 

Michael Ryder:  His streakiness notwithstanding, he is still a top-6
forward for most teams, and will attract some interest.  The fact that he’s
always been hard to re-sign may entice management to consider moving him,
regardless of the direction they opt to take.  (3)

Sergei Samsonov:  There will be a couple of nibbles since other teams
have higher salaried players they too want to move, that’s about the only way
something gets done here.  (2)

Mark Streit:  Versatility will have many teams knocking, but the Habs
will want/need to hold on to that type of a player as well. 

The Dog

The Dogs had another strong week, winning both
games, and now have points in 12 straight games.


February 16, 2007
Hamilton 5, Toronto
4 (SO)
Hamilton Goals: 
Biron (6), Milroy (23),
Locke (15), Chipchura (9)
Grabovski 1/2, Urquhart 1/1, Locke 0/1, Milroy 0/1, Chipchura 0/1, Denis 5/6
33-31 Toronto
  3-8  PK: 

February 18, 2007
Hamilton 5, Hershey
Hamilton Goals:
Lambert (7), Grabovski (15), Ferland 2 (16/17), Jancevski (3)
32-22 Hershey
  1-7  PK: 

3 Key

Rather than our standard 3 Key Notes, we’ll
look at 3 Key Bulldogs that could be traded before the deadline, in keeping with
this week’s theme.

Yann Danis:  If the Habs opt to go for a veteran extra NHL goalie
which would send Halak back down, he could very likely go, as some AHL team will
want better goaltending depth.  (2)

Corey Locke:  Is very unlikely to make it up with the Habs, and has
struggled somewhat this season, a change of scenery is what he most likely
needs, some team will take a crack at his offensive talent.  The Bulldogs
can spare his 4th line role.  (3)

Eric Manlow:  Brought in to add leadership and scoring, and only
achieved the former.  Could very possibly go in an AHL-loan deal. 


The NHL and the GM’s are meeting this week to
discuss potential rule changes.  But rather than focusing on some important
issues (puck-over-the-glass rule, the schedule, and no-touch icing), here’s just
a snippet of what’s being discussed.

– Preventing line changes if a goalie freezes the puck
– Restricting the length of pre-game ceremonies
– Shortening penalties in overtime (because a penalty in regulation is only half
of one in overtime??)

My original reaction to this was as follows: "This is what the league considers
important?  And this is how they’re going to fix things?"  Try and go
through the following logic with me.  The NHL wants the game to flow more,
so by restricting line changes on nearly 60% of all whistles, the players will
be more refreshed.  Contrary to what the league believes, goalies do need
to freeze the puck a fair bit during a game (there are some that aren’t
required, but most are.)  What’s next?  Restricting the number of
faceoffs during a game?  Given the way things are going, that doesn’t seem
as farfetched as it may seem. 

Are pre-game ceremonies overblown for the most part?  Sure, but rather than
restricting them, schedule around them.  7:30 game time?  Start the
ceremonies at 7, with a puck drop just after 8.  That’s not half bad,
allows things to go way overboard, and not seriously impact flight times. 
The league’s solution they’re discussing this week?  Assessing teams
in-game penalties to try and deter lengthy ceremonies.  What’s likely to
come of this?  A reduction of ceremonies, and that’s a shame in itself. 
I’m not even going to bother ranting about the 3rd point, I’ve been down that
road too many times before.  If the NHL is just going to clutter up the GM
meetings with some of these useless points, why not just let them get down to
the business most hockey fans want to see right now:  Trade talks.