Thursday, June 25, 2009

Haven't we seen this before?

Habs GM Bob Gainey came right out and said it Thursday afternoon: he's looking for a big centre and he hopes to find it via the trade market at the NHL draft.

The last time we heard Gainey speak so assertively and candidly on anything he planned on doing was when he was chasing after Marian Hossa at the trade deadline last year. We all know how that turned out.

For Gainey to come out and announce to his fan base that he is actively working on trades that would make the Canadiens "a lot better" shows, to me, that there is something big brewing and we could be privy to quite a night at the Bell Centre on Friday.

But is Gainey willing to close the deal? Is he willing to add that extra player, or that draft pick, or to take on the risk of a long-term contract? Basically, is he willing to not be Bob Gainey, at least for a couple of days?

In a direct response to a question regarding the possibility of acquiring Vincent Lecavalier, Gainey said, "It hasn’t been a secret that we’ve always been in the market for a big, strong first-line centre."

Though he declined to specifically address the Lecavalier situation, that answer shows me that there is a line in the water with the Lightning, but not necessarily only with the Lightning.

The fact Gainey wants to make a big deal at this draft has been generally assumed for quite some time, and having him confirm that intent has to be reassuring for fans.

But what I found was the most revealing part of Gainey's meeting with the media Thursday was that he confirmed having made an actual contract offer to Mike Komisarek. Not only that, but Gainey hasn't made an offer to anyone else. So what does that mean, exactly? What's the expiry date on the Komisarek offer? Is it this weekend? And who knows just how competitive an offer it is?

If Komisarek is seeking $5 million a year over a long-term deal, I don't think Gainey will be willing to go that high. I would have to believe that someone out there will be, but it's hard to handicap the behavioural tendencies of the league's GM's in this economic climate with owners breathing down their necks to be smart with their money.

As for the rest of the Habs free agents, Gainey says they understand the situation and are willing to wait until after the draft to talk contract. But really, what else would Gainey say? That Saku Koivu is insulted that after the years of loyal service he's offered this franchise he is now a second-rate priority? Or that Alex Tanguay is starting to get an idea of what he'll be worth on the open market? Or that Alex Kovalev won't sign unless he's assured of being captain?

No, Gainey will say they understand because that's what he has to say, even though his rationale that those players would like to play for a better team is pretty sound.

But he also seems to be admitting that with his assertion of being a major trade partner this weekend, his own performance as GM of the Habs will go down in history as being a positive or a negative one based on what happens over the next two days.

"I think the situation is somewhat risky," he said, "but risk brings opportunity and we’re open to opportunity."

Finally, Gainey says he anticipates holding on to the 18th pick in the draft because he would like to be able to make a first round pick in front of what is anticipated to be a standing-room crowd in the Bell Centre.

But could anyone really care less who the Habs pick in the first round, considering what's at stake?


pmk said...

people get so worked up about the nhl draft - its such hype. this isnt the nfl. The prospects are much younger and except for the select few are nowhere near ready.

As too the big center - I hope its Vinny but I have feeling it will be Marleau.

Andy J Smith illustration said...

But like you said, if Gary Bettman hits the podium at the #18 spot and announces a trade, the place will be on its feet cheering. The draft itself is only a small consolation in the eyes of fans in Montreal.

Sliver24 said...

Draft shmaft. Bring on Vinny!!!

Marleay would be okay - definitely better than anything we've seen around here in awhile - but he's no Vinny. All you have to do is look at his bare ring finger to realize that.

How awesome will it be to have a stadium full of fans to announce a trade to.

Yves said...

I'm hoping it's not Marleau.

Only thing that scares me about Vinny.. is the big $$ over big years...

I also have to agree with pmk.... the NHL draft is a bit different. Even watching the NBA draft last night... guys aren't drafted at 18... some may.. but, some will do college and at 20,21.. they are ready to step in and make an impact right away.

Few players make the big team and make an impact in the NHL in their draft year.

Yves said...


Mr Gainey... find a way to get me Eric Staal.


Anonymous said...

Marleau or Vinny....don't care which one. We need to re-sign the K man though...posted this earlier but his situation reminds me of Langway and Chelios and Desjardins and Schneider, etc. we cannot assume that these bruising D-men are easy to find. if we let him go, that is going to bite us in the ass for the next10 years. That being said, i would happily let him go if we got Bouwmeester instead...

pfhabs said...

1. under a cap system the draft is the life blood of any team wanting to succeed. whether those 18 yr olds are ready now or in 3 years is immaterial. have a succession of mediocre to bad drafts and you become the NY Rangers signing stiffs for long term and big coin (hello Gomez, Redden, Drury, Rosival)

2. Sliver 24 you are like a dog with a bone with this Vinny stuff. I hope you are disappointed tonight because long term it means more success quicker without Vinny

3. impact centres are not limited To Vinny..Eric Staal would be from a hockey perspective (not marketing) a better player; younger, less term, less money, no major injuries. Marleau is possible, Can Pittsburgh afford Crosby, Malkin and Jordon Staal ?
Even Jason Arnott has the size, skill and character to be a #1 centre in Montreal...lots of possibilities BUT the chez nous crowd, fans & media, will blow chunks unless its their little chou chou Vinny.

4. Anon you are wise re draw a soccer analogy lots of world class defenders scoring virtually no goals and making mega bucks to stop goals...BTW how many points does a goalie get on average....just saying offensive stats are not everything

pierre said...

" Gainey's ways " failed to solidified our foundation as a franchise and as a team since the time of his hiring 6 years ago.... a terrible performance, made even worse when considering the quality of our our farm system during that time .... more prospects graduated in the NHL from here than in any other places in the NHL.

I welcome anyone to qualified with an appropriate term Bob Gainey's style as a GM in the NHL..... Arpon suggested earlier on the word " cautious ", he also suggested " unconventional " as another defining caracteristic..... I cant agree with those terms because at time we have seen him acting at the antipode of what those terms might be representing...... personally I would say.... aloof, erratic, wastefull, lacking flair and creativity.

His lack of vision and subsequent poor building strategies lead him to the point where he now must take hight risks (wastefull actions) in order to save the day.

I dont believe that a " big splash " on draft day will turned us into a contender and make up for all the little things that needed to be done over the last few years in order to slowly developpe into one..... bringing in a Lecavalier into an immature situation is not like bringing Hossa into a mature team like the Wings and unlike them Lecavalier will cost us alot of assets while his contract will weigh us down in the futur.

Our team is in need of a major surgery in order to just stay afloat....... whatever happens to our inter-season rescue mission I think Bob will be retiring after its done.

Arpon Basu said...

Did I miss something? Why would anyone believe Eric Staal is actually available?

pierre said...

Last time I heard Lemieux he insisted about keeping Stall along the other two stars for as far in the futur as he could...... Lemieux wants more Cup in Pittsburg and Stall isn't going anywhere soon.

pfhabs said...

Arpon: to answer your question and to clarify re Staal.

1. is he available ? who knows if Wayne was traded, the Rocket almost and the Flower after 3 mediocre yrs wasn't looking safe anyone can be but likely E. Staal/Carolina is not available

2. I was using him as an example of a player that would cost roster players and prospects along the lines of Vinny but for whom it would be more justifiable in my view

Gainey's interview on TSN on LeBlanc selection indicates that impact player he is looking for may not be available until september/october...