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There’s various schools of thought that
immediately pop up when trying to analyze the Scott Gomez to Montreal trade. 
On the one hand, I think most would agree that Gomez is better than Higgins, so
the roster should be better, all else being equal.  Then there’s the cap,
Gomez’s hit is one of the uglier ones in the whole league.  In this
article, we’ll look at the implications of this deal on the cap heading into
free agency.


First, I may as well give my take on the deal. 
As of the time I write this, I’m cautiously skeptical, as really, a deal like
this doesn’t get made without some more pieces falling into place later. 
How the puzzle fits together will ultimately dictate my final opinion.  For
the deal itself, Gomez will surely improve on his offensive numbers from last
season, and is good on the draw and in the locker room, a pair of intangibles
every team covets.  I’ve always liked Higgins, but he’s not a top-6 forward
on a good team.  He’s a year away from being unrestricted, and considering
what’s about to happen with Komisarek, it’s not unreasonable to think Higgins
would walk as well. 

Now, let’s not sugarcoat it, losing Ryan McDonagh hurts.  He’s a legitimate
top-4 defence prospect, and when he would’ve signed, it would’ve been for a nice
cheap cap hit.  But he’s not irreplaceable, and there is some strength in
terms of depth in the system on the back end.  Valentenko likely wasn’t
coming back to the Habs anytime soon, so his loss isn’t too deep, and Doug Janik
was merely hours from leaving anyways,

As for the 2 prospects coming in, Busto is a depth player, and will fight for
the #6 job in Hamilton or be one of the first callups from Cincy, so let’s not
delve too deep into his potential.  Tom Pyatt is an intriguing prospect
though, as he did have some success recently with Team Canada at the World
Juniors, and his first full AHL season had some positive moments.  Is he an
impact, top-6 player down the road?  Nope, but he has NHL potential to be
an energy guy on the 3rd or 4th line.  It doesn’t help the loss of McDonagh
much, but it’s nice to see that at least Pyatt could have an impact in the

To summarize, my opinion is that I’m going to sit back, watch how things unfold,
and see how this fits into the grand scheme of things before being either for or
against the trade.  One thing’s for sure, the next couple of days just got
a whole lot more interesting.  As for the cap…


With Gomez joining the fold, let’s re-visit the
cap space calculations from about a month ago.  The players under contract


Cap Hit

Scott Gomez


Andrei Markov

Roman Hamrlik 5,500,000

Andrei Kostitsyn

Carey Price 2,200,000

Georges Laraque

Josh Gorges 1,100,000

Glen Metropolit

Ryan O’Byrne 941,667

Sergei Kostitsyn 816,667

Jaroslav Halak

Maxim Lapierre 687,500

Total committed (13):


Next, the RFA’s, with their qualifying offers
from yesterday to the right of last year’s cap hit:


08-09 Salary

Min. QO
Tomas Plekanec 1,800,000 1,800,000*

Kyle Chipchura


Guillaume Latendresse 850,000 892,500

Matt D’Agostini


Gregory Stewart 500,000 550,000

Totals (5):



* – player is arbitration eligible.

Realistically, all of these players won’t just take their QO’s, so let’s
estimate this at $6.75 million (some may say this is too high, others too low,
but it’s a working estimate for a reason).

This takes the cap hit approximately to $38.6 million, or $20 million below the
cap; this is what can be spent on UFA’s for this season.  I won’t bother
re-hashing the argument from my last cap article discussing how much of that can
only be on 1-year deals, but conservatively speaking, a max of $10 million of
the remaining UFA money can extend beyond next season (and if it’s all spent
now, next summer could be really boring).

So to answer the question plaguing everyone since the trade, $20 million is the
magic UFA number, but some of those have to be 1-year deals.