HabsWorld.net -- 

With the Habs looking less and less like the
winners of the Mats Sundin sweepstakes (if they ever come to an end), talk now
has started about what "Plan B" could be.  Bob Gainey said earlier this
week that there could be a potential trade partner with a team that is currently
over the cap.  In this article, we look at those teams and possible trade

Mathieu Schneider, D, Anaheim Ducks

Bio: 39 years old, 5’11, 191 lbs. 
Last season: 65 GP, 12 G, 27 A, 39 PTS, +22, 50 PIMS, 22:17 TOI
Cap situation: 1 year at $5,625,000, counts under all circumstances
(aside from LTIR) due to being over 35 at the time the contract was signed, UFA
after season.

Why it works:  With the loss of Mark Streit, there is potentially a
huge hole to fill on the powerplay.  Last year, 43.5% of Schneider’s points
were on the PP.  Anaheim GM Brian Burke has reportedly said that he wants
to move the blueliner to the East.  With the Habs depth on defence, they
wouldn’t have to lean on Schneider as a top blueliner which will help keep him
fresh as the season progresses.  He also has played for the team before and
is a veteran of several playoff runs.

Thoughts:  It’s an expensive option to improve the blueline, but
given there’s no long-term impact, it wouldn’t hurt as much.  Because
Anaheim needs to clear space to get Selanne re-signed, Burke may be willing to
accept less than what Schneider may be worth to ensure the Finnish Flash comes

Martin Havlat, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

Bio: 27 years old, 6’1, 204 lbs. 
Last season: 35 GP, 10 G, 17 A, 27 PTS, +4, 22 PIMS, 18:35 TOI
Cap situation: 1 year at $6,000,000, UFA after season.

Why it works:  When healthy, he’s a dynamic offensive player who
could add to what already is shaping up to be a potent offense this season. 
Although he’s not a C, the Habs could convert Tanguay, Higgins, or S. Kostitsyn
to that pivot spot and maintain a 3-line offensive attack.

Thoughts:  The key with Havlat is when healthy.  It doesn’t
happen often, and when he’s healthy, it usually doesn’t last long.  For $6
million, there is a huge risk in picking him up, and the asking price for him
will assuredly be higher than the player you see directly below.

Robert Lang, C, Chicago Blackhawks

Bio: 37 years old, 6’3, 216 lbs. 
Last season: 76 GP, 21 G, 33 A, 54 PTS, +9, 50 PIMS, 18:25 TOI
Cap situation: 1 year at $4,000,000, counts under all circumstances
(aside from LTIR) due to being over 35 at the time the contract was signed, UFA
after season.

Why it works:  In going after Sundin, the Habs wanted a big right
handed C who was strong on faceoffs and could score, while bringing some
physical play.  With the exception of that latter part, Lang fits the bill. 
He had a faceoff win percentage of 53.1% last season taking well over 1,000
draws (no regular Hab centre had a win % that high), while his offensive numbers
are nothing to scoff about.  He would also immediately become the biggest C
on the NHL roster.

Thoughts:  I’m a little surprised to the somewhat negative reaction
Lang has had amongst the various discussion boards.  He’s not a #1 centre
like he used to be, but should be able to hit 20 goals this year, even on a 3rd
line.  At the $4 million price tag, the Habs would still have a few million
dollars to use to add some midseason help, something that couldn’t be said for

Viktor Kozlov, RW/C, Washington Capitals

Bio: 33 years old, 6’5, 235 lbs. 
Last season: 81 GP, 16 G, 38 A, 54 PTS, +28, 18 PIMS, 17:34 TOI
Cap situation: 1 year at $2,500,000, UFA after season.

Why it works: Kozlov has good size, can play the pivot position, and had
quality offensive numbers.  At 33, there could be potential to bring him
back if he has a good season.  Only 11 of his points were on the PP last
year, meaning that he can produce at even strength, a big issue for the Habs in
recent memory. 

Thoughts:  There’s a good chance that Washington may not want to
deal a player to a team it will be fighting with for position at or near the top
of the East this season.  Also, the Caps are over the cap by more than
Kozlov’s salary, so he may not be the one that gets dealt.  Because Michael
Nylander has a NMC (and didn’t want to sign in Edmonton, a wintery climate last
year), I’ve opted not to put him down for consideration, since it’s cold in
Montreal too (and I think he wants to stay in Washington anyways.)

Other players to consider with a small reason why:

Todd Marchant, C, Anaheim Ducks

Why it works:  If Selanne opts to retire, the Ducks would likely
be able to keep Schneider.  To get to their ideal payroll though, they’d
still want to cut some salary.  Marchant’s a veteran C with decent faceoff
ability and plays a strong shutdown game.  If the Habs opt to go with 2
offensive lines and make the 3rd defensive minded, he’d be an adequate option if
the club feels Chipchura isn’t ready.

Anders Eriksson, Rhett Warrener, D, Calgary Flames

Why it works:  The Flames are over the cap by a small amount. 
If the Habs opt to try and save cap space for later on in the season, picking up
one of these 2 would solve the 7th d-man dilemma, while bringing in some grit on
the back end.  Considering they cleared waivers earlier, the asking price
will be something minute, so there’s very little risk involved.

Jussi Jokinen, LW/C, Tampa Bay Lightning

Why it works:  Reports earlier in the month suggested Jokinen
could possibly be on the block since Tampa management finally realized it can’t
dress 17 forwards a game.  We all know his shootout ability, but he also
had 42 points last year and won over 52% of over 350 faceoffs.  He wouldn’t
come as cheap as some of the others, but this could be a darkhorse as an
improvement to the 3rd line while leaving plenty of cap space available.

Of course, there are plenty of potential options, as there are several teams
over the cap.  However, there are a lot of teams who can get away with
moving out a depth player, something I don’t foresee the Habs wanting to get
into, so those teams haven’t been considered.  Have your say as to which of
the primary 4 options from above you’d prefer most by voting in the HW poll.