It appears Bob Gainey is making a final push for Mike Komisarek, but I'm starting to wonder if it's worth the trouble.
First, courtesy of USA Today hockey scribe Kevin Allen on his Twitter feed, comes this posted at about 8 a.m. Tuesday morning:
"Noting that Montreal GM Bob Gainey will talk again today to agent Matt Keator about re-signing D Mike Komisarek"
Then, a few minutes later:
"From my poking about on Komisarek, I have the sense that the Habs believe they will land Sedins if the twins don't re-sign in Vancouver."
Prior to that came this last night from the Twitter feed of Penguins beat writer Rob Rossi:
"I'm hearing from several folks that Mike Komisarek might land with a Pens' Atlantic rival"
I could go on and on like this, but none of it changes my mind as to the unlikelihood that Komisarek is signing in Montreal.
So, I figured we may want to look at some alternatives to Komisarek that will be out there on Wednesday, and you may be surprised to learn there are a lot of them. The primary reason Komisarek is so attractive as a free agent is his age, and being both a physical presence and an elite shot blocker.
But if you decide to go after only one of those two skills, the shot blocking, there are still some capable defensive defencemen that look like they will be hitting the free agent market, and they will be far less expensive than Komisarek.
So here, in order, are who I think Bob Gainey should target to take Komisarek's spot on the Habs blueline, assuming it becomes vacated Wednesday:
1. Greg Zanon, 29, Nashville
I've been high on grabbing this guy for quite some time , but there is really no time like the present to be making a pitch for Zanon. His agent Peter Fish tells Tennessean reporter John Glennon that his client has received no offer from the Preds and will hit the market Wednesday.
Zanon is not a hulking giant like Komisarek, standing only 5-foot-11 but listed at a solid 201 pounds. Still, he finished third in the league in blocked shots with 237, just a shade over Komisarek's total of 207, albeit in 16 fewer games.
What you find looking at the blocked shot leaders is that it's rare to find defencemen who block a lot of shots and are credited with a lot of hits, which is what adds to Komisarek's value. But Zanon wasn't too shabby in the hits department either with 153, which was 24th in the league.
Zanon made only $750,000 last season, and I would imagine an offer doubling that salary would be snatched up in a second.
2. Rob Scuderi, 30, Pittsburgh
Scuderi had a tremendous playoff and will be looking to cash in on that fact, which is why Gainey should probably hold off on him because some GM will likely overpay for his services. But all things being equal, he would be a valuable defenceman to pick up because he is so positionally sound and was able to bring some stability to a defence corps in Pittsburgh that is anything but solid.
Scuderi looks like he will be free to hit the market and will likely be able to triple his $725,000 salary from last season, which is way too much.
3. Karlis Skrastins, 34, Florida
A little on the older side, Skrastins is a reliable stay at home guy who had a plus-nine rating for the Panthers last season while blocking a team-high 171 shots, ninth in the league. He made $2.4 million last season, but if he agreed to a massive pay cut he'd be a good value signing and could teach a thing or two to some of Montreal's younger defenders.
4. Jay McKee, 31, St. Louis
Finally, if desperation really sets in, Gainey could have McKee for a song. He was once the player that I find provides the best comparable for Komisarek's market value. The Blues just bought out the final year of his four-year, $16 million contract because McKee was grossly overpaid, and also because he was rarely healthy.
He played 69 games last season, his highest in three seasons with the Blues, and he's missed significant time to 9injury in all but one of his last six campaigns. If he can survive a whole season of playing the way he does, he'd be a reasonably valuable depth guy. But that's a big if.