HabsWorld.net -- 

A day after acquiring Scott Gomez, the Habs
made lots of noise on the first day of free agency, signing a quintet of players. 
The back end has a pair of new faces, as Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill join the
team from Buffalo and Pittsburgh respectively, while Mike Cammalleri and Brian
Gionta, signed 5 year deals to join the Canadiens. 
Mathieu Darche, an AHL veteran, also signed to bolster the Bulldogs.

Jaroslav Spacek

Spacek, a 35 year old blueliner, was the first to put pen to paper, inking a 3
year, $11.5 M contract.  The 5’11 defender led all Buffalo defencemen with
45 points in 80 games last season (8-37-45), and was tied for 16th in NHL
scoring by a defenceman.  The Habs are Spacek’s 6th NHL team, after
spending time with Chicago, Columbus, Florida, Edmonton, and most recently
Buffalo, where he spent the last 3 seasons.  With Rob Blake having
re-signed with San Jose yesterday, the Czech defender was the second highest
scoring defenceman available on the free agent market.


Reg. Season GP G A PTS +/- PIMS
Last year 80 8 37 45 +2 38
Career 701 73 230 303 +25 515

Last year
Career 44 3 11 14 -1 34

Hal Gill

Roughly an hour later, Hal Gill announced he was leaving the Stanley Cup
champions to sign a 2 year, $4.5 M contract with the Habs.  At 6’7, he is
tied for the second tallest blueliner in the NHL, so there will be some
semblance of size on the back end if nothing else.  Gill had the second
best +/- ratio during the season amongst Penguins defencemen, has at least
an even +/- rating in 6 of his last 7 seasons, and was in the top-10 in the
playoffs in this department as well.  This will be the 34 year old’s 4th NHL
stop, after spending time with Boston, Toronto, and Pittsburgh. 


Reg. Season GP G A PTS +/- PIMS
Last year 62 2 8 10 +11 53
Career 851 31 120 151 +69 800

Last year 24 0 2 2 +8 6
Career 80 0 5 5 6 46

Mike Cammalleri

Then came the shocker, really something that
very few expected.  Around 5:30 PM EST, Mike Cammalleri, the leading point
getter available on the free agent market, signed a 5 year, $30 M deal with the
Habs.  The 5’9, 27 year old winger led the Flames in scoring last season
with 39 goals, and was 2nd on the team in assists (43) and points (82).  He
was also quite adept in the faceoff circle, winning 60.3% of his faceoffs
(222/368).  In fact, he was 1 of only 3 players to take at least 350
faceoffs and win over 60%.  The diminutive forward has played at least 80
games in 3 of his last 4 NHL seasons, tallying 118 goals in that span. 
This will be Cammalleri’s 3rd NHL stop after being part of the Los Angeles and
Calgary organizations.


Reg. Season GP G A PTS +/- PIMS
Last year 81 39 43 82 -2 44
Career 364 132 155 287 -30 214

Last year 6 1 2 3 +1 2
Career 6 1 2 3 +1 2

Mike Komisarek

Shortly after this signing was announced, the
first of many Montreal UFA’s found a new home, as Mike Komisarek decided he was
tired of being booed as a Hab, and went to a place where he’ll assuredly be
booed even more.  The blueliner inked a 5 year, $22.5 M deal with Toronto,
after the Habs were unwilling to bring his annual salary into the $5 M range. 
(Various reports claim Komisarek demanded between $5-5.5 M in order to remain
with the Canadiens).
  GM Bob Gainey himself noted later in the evening
that the Komisarek camp never responded to their last offer, which shows that
Komisarek was not particularly interested in returning to the team.

Mathieu Darche

The Habs weren’t quite done yet, inking free agent local winger Mathieu
Darche to a 1 year, 2-way contract.  Financial terms of this deal are not
yet known.  The 32 year old McGill product has 101 games of NHL experience,
picking up 8 goals and 16 assists in that process.  The majority of his NHL
time was earned just 2 years ago with the Lightning, where he played in 73
contests.  The 6’1 LW spent last season in Buffalo’s system, playing all 80
regular season games with their AHL affiliate in Portland, where he finished 3rd
in team scoring with 31 goals and 35 assists.

Brian Gionta

Just when you thought they were finished for the night, another bombshell –
Brian Gionta signed a 5 year, $25 M contract with the Habs.  The 5’7 winger
was 5th on the Devils in scoring last season with 60 points in 81 games
(20-40-60).  Gionta also had 2 goals and 3 assists in 7 playoff contests,
which put him 2nd on the team in playoff scoring.  The second smallest
winger in the NHL, Gionta has scored at least 20 goals in each of the last 5
seasons, and prior to July 1st, New Jersey was his only NHL home.


Reg. Season GP G A PTS +/- PIMS
Last year 81 20 40 60 +12 32
Career 473 152 160 312 +62 227

Last year 7 2 3 5 E 4
Career 67 19 21 40 +4 18


Just exactly how much space do the Habs have
left for UFA’s?  Reproducing my tables from after the Gomez trade, here’s
how things look currently.  Already under contract are the following:


Cap Hit

Scott Gomez

Mike Cammalleri 6,000,000

Andrei Markov

Roman Hamrlik 5,500,000

Brian Gionta


Jaroslav Spacek


Andrei Kostitsyn

Hal Gill 2,250,000
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 (17):


Next, the RFA’s, with their actual qualifying offers
from earlier in the week to the right of last year’s cap hit:


08-09 Salary

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):



Earlier, it was estimated that the cap hit for
these 5 players would total $6.75 million.

Add those 2 numbers together and the cap hit to date is $55,621,310, leaving the
team roughly $1 million below the salary cap.  Considering the Habs like to
have some breathing room in case of injuries/callups, this is most likely it for
the Habs, barring a trade, as there’s little space left now.