Friday, October 24, 2008

"Flat out: not involved."

So that's that.

Before allowing this somewhat ridiculous Marian Gaborik to Montreal rumour train to gather any significant steam, Bob Gainey came out at the general managers meeting in Chicago and put an end to it once and for all with that succinct quote.

The fact that acquiring Gaborik would have required some insane cap management and also would have meant losing at least three guys from the current roster - which would in one fell swoop ruin the depth Gainey has cultivated on the team - didn't stop this rumour from growing, and it all started with the fact that Gainey and Wild GM Doug Risebrough are former teammates.

Chris Higgins, the player attached to any rumour involving the Habs, noted yesterday how he'd been assure by someone in the organization - not necessarily Gainey himself - that the rumours were pure speculation. But I don't think that carries nearly as much weight as Gainey telling the media that he is in no way involved in trade talks for Gaborik.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean Gainey is not shopping Higgins for another player on the market (perhaps Florida's Jay Bouwmeester, who would be a far better fit than Gaborik?).

So when the Wild had director of pro scouting Blair Mackasey and pro scout Jamie Hislop at the Habs-Panthers game Monday night, maybe they were in fact scouting the Panthers, and not the Canadiens.

In any case, Gainey has managed to snuff out his team's first distraction of the year by telling the media he is not interested in Gaborik's services, which has to be reassuring because his first priority should be to find a fourth defenceman, in my humble opinion.

Bouwmeester would obviously be the best candidate, but he'll cost a ton, perhaps even more than Gaborik would, and so the Canadiens would need to rip apart their roster to add what could be a rental.

I think Gainey will need to wait until at least Christmas before looking for that fourth defenceman for two reasons: 1) That player's salary will be easier to absorb because a good chunk of it will have already been paid and 2) It will become a little clearer which teams are struggling and are legitimately in danger of missing the playoffs.

For instance, if the Ducks continue to stink through December (which I doubt because Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf can't play this badly for too much longer), then a guy like impending unrestricted free agent Fran├žois Beauchemin could be made available with a very limited cap hit of $1.65 million this season. I highly doubt the Ducks will be able to pay him what he's worth when July 1 hits, especially if they want to keep Scott Niedermayer (assuming he still wants to play).

There's also Mathias Ohlund in Vancouver, also set to become a UFA on July 1 with a cap hit of $3.5 million. His best days are behind him, but you could do a lot worse than having him as your number four defenceman, much the same way Robert Lang is a great third line centre.

I still believe Jaroslav Halak is the most valuable trade chip available to Gainey that has the least impact on the current lineup, but Halak is only valuable to teams that have goaltending issues. That's not the case in Florida, Anaheim or Vancouver. What those three teams do have in common is a lack of depth at forward, something the Canadiens have in abundance.

So if indeed Gainey winds up shopping for one of Bouwmeester, Beauchemin or Ohlund, it is highly likely Higgins' name will come up again. He'd better be ready for it.

1 comment:

pierre said...

Halak's value as asset is petite... he is a low draft pick... he needs to play at least a full season as a back-up to demonstrate better his value and help define his potential in the NHL... until this is done and established... his true value can only be ours.

In our first 6 games our tandem in goal have been our force... their combined save percentage figure says it all... highest in the league.

Weakening our tandem situation in goals in order to solidified a top 4 situation on D throught trade has no value at all that I can see.

Then who knows how fast O'Byrne will progress now that he is with us right from the start this season... this guy it seems to me has it all to be a top 4 regular in this league... could he be there as soon as this season ? Its very possible I think.