Sunday, October 19, 2008

Let's be rational on Gaborik

Before Marian Mania sets in again (what is it with impending free agents named Marian that get people in Montreal so crazy?), I just want to lay out some numbers for all of you:

Exhibit A) Marian Gaborik has a cap hit this year of $6,333,333.

Exhibit B) The combined cap hit for Chris Higgins ($1.7 million) and Jaroslav Halak ($775,000) is $2,475,000.

Exhibit C) Depending on your source, the Habs available cap space is $1,064,699 (nhlscap.com) or $1,122,000 (nhlnumbers.com).

Exhibit D) In order to absorb Gaborik's contract while trading away only Higgins and Halak, the Habs would need $3,858,333 in available cap space (that's not the exact number because there's already been a few days spent on the season, but it's close enough).

That's not rocket science, folks. The discussed deal as it's being reported by RDS simply makes no sense because it would require the Habs to send more salary the other way. Maybe Steve Begin ($1,057,000) and Mathieu Dandenault ($1,725,000) get thrown in to make the numbers work, but I don't see why the Wild would want to do that.

Also, the RDS report states that a Minnesota Wild scout was at the game Saturday night even though neither Higgins nor Halak played. That scout is in fact the Wild's director of pro scouting Blair Mackasey, who lives in the West Island and is a regular visitor at the Bell Centre. It's funny, because when I saw him in the press box I thought to myself how his preence will fuel some Gaborik rumours out there, and, well, there you have it...

I don't doubt Bob Gainey has inquired about Gaborik's availability, but I just don't see how he could put together a package that would appeal to his buddy Doug Risebrough without completely ripping apart the chemistry that has taken hold of his team.

Higgins is a valuable trade chip, especially to a team like the Wild that is built on solid, two way players. Halak, of course, is an extremely valuable commodity, but not particularly for the Wild because they're already pretty set in goal with Niklas Backstrom as the starter and Josh Harding - essentially a Halak equivalent - as the cheap ($725,000) backup. Why would the Wild want Halak, unless they planned on dealing Harding to another team?

Then there's the fact that Gaborik is an injury waiting to happen. He's currently sidelined with a "lower-body injury" and has been a regular visitor to the clinic over his career, missing 57 games over the past three years with various groin injuries. His agent Ron Salcer and Risebrough haven't held contract discussions in weeks, according to Michael Russo's blog, which is pretty dialed in to everything Wild.

Russo seems to agree that Higgins is the centrepiece of discussions while the Wild would also love to get their hands on Ryan MacDonagh, which would require Gaborik to sign a long-term extension with the Habs before any trade is finalized because the organization is very high on the Minnesota native. Considering the kind of money Gaborik has already left on the table, with reports of a 10-year, $80 million deal being rejected, I don't know if Gainey's the type to offer anything better than what he's already seen.

But the crux of this whole rumour - and that's all it is, a series of rumours - remains the salary cap issues involved, now and moving forward. If Gainey did sign Gaborik long-term, that essentially guarantees Saku Koivu and/or Alex Kovalev will be playing their final games in a Habs uniform this year.

Though Montreal has gobs of cap space for next season, as Russo correctly points out, Gainey would still need to re-sign Mike Komisarek, Tomas Plekanec and Guillaume Latendresse in addition to Gaborik, while also keeping in mind that Carey Price's contract will be up in 2010 and there needs to be at least $8-$10 million left to lock him up long-term as well.

So, for the sake of argument, let's say Gaborik would warrant $9 million, Komisarek would get $5 million, Plekanec $3.5 million and Latendresse $2 million, when you add the money that needs to be saved for Price that makes nearly $30 million going to five players. Add that to the $23.3 million already on the books for 2009-10, and you get $53.3 million, or only $3.4 million less than this year's cap (one that may be on the way down along with the rest of the economy).

The numbers simply don't add up, not now, and not in the future. If Gainey wants to bet the farm on this year and hope the team's prospects can pick up the slack in the future, and if he's willing to watch Gaborik walk at the end of the year, then maybe a deal happens somehow with a lot of cap wizardry by Julien Brisebois.

But I wouldn't bet on it, because everything Gainey has done since taking the job has been measured and rational. This would be anything but.

2 comments:

Yves said...

I agree on many things in your post.

1. Salary doesn't work on the cap for this year and possibly the years ahead with the current UFAs RFAs to sign.

2. Is Gaborik the player Gainey would go after?? There's no doubt that Gaborik is available but I'm not sure he fits the bill here... he has a history of injury, that's a big knock spending huge $$$

3. I also agree that I wouldn't really see Halak going in such a deal because of who they (Min) already have in goal.

Basically the rumoured deal for Higgins, Halak and a first round pick doesn't quite make sense (to me anyway).... the only thing that does make sense to me in this rumour is that Higgins and Halak are the names that always come up in these rumours.

I really don't doubt that Gainey will make a move this year.... but I'm not so sure Gaborik is the guy.

I'll never rule it out. And if Gainey does, I would have faith in his reasoning.... he's done a fabulous job so far.

Sliver24 said...

Bah, we don't need Gaborik. The great thing about the Habs as team last year was that they led the NHL in goals but had only one player in the top 40 in NHL scoring - Alex Kovalev. That's quite an achievement. The fact that Gainey added two gifted forwards to that already potent offence without sacrificing anything of significance makes the team even more balanced. That's pretty impressive. Scoring by committee, if you can manage it, is definitely the best way to be successful in the NHL. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a risky scenario for the simple reason that a player - any player - can be injured in the blink of an eye. Just ask Andrei Kostitsyn.

Also, Habs fans in my opinion are not interested in putting up with a prima donna on the team (this one sure isn't). I would guess that the current players feel the same way. While Kovalev is currently being treated like the second coming in Montreal it wasn't always like that. Remember two seasons ago? The reason for the change in fans' opinion of Kovy can partially be attributed to his increase in offensive output, but I think you can give as much credit for his current idol status to his change in attitude and demeanor.

From the outside it looks like the current Habs are a happy and cohesive group. I absolutely love watching the on-ice post-game celebration, where Price is knocking someone's helmet forward, poking his stick between Gorges' legs or trading helmets with him. That chemistry is not something that I would want to mess with, and bringing in someone that will have a major impact on the pecking order in the dressing room and on the ice would do just that. It may even cause the old Kovy come back if he ends up in pissing contest with Gaborik (although I have absolutely information that would justify it, my feeling is that those two guys would end up not liking each other).

I hope that Bob forgets all about Gaborik and stays the course with the team he has already put in place. There are no gaping holes in the lineup (at least none that have shown up thus far) and there is talent in the minors to patch (pun intended) any holes that crop up due to injury. The Habs are both tougher and more talented than they were last year (WOW it's great to have a top-three hockey mind in the GM's office) so unless something changes Mr. Gainey can just sit back and relax and continue to enjoy the fruits of his offseason labour.

Unless, of course, they lose tonight against Florida. Then I say we trade Halak and the entire first line straight-up for Gaborik. Just kidding!