Monday, June 29, 2009

Tick tock, tick tock...

The clock is most definitely ticking on Bob Gainey these days.

First off, for the second year in a row, it appears that Gainey's Plan A is not going to work out.

Lightning GM Brian Lawton told the St Petersberg Times that he expects Vincent Lecavalier to start next season in Tampa Bay. Lawton also said Saturday that there were no significant talks of a big trade involving his team.

Meanwhile, Renaud Lavoie reports that Gainey was working until the moments before the start of the draft to try and grab Lecavalier, but that co-owner Len Barrie vetoed the trade. He adds that Gainey will continue trying to pry Lecavalier from the Lightning right up to the start of free agency Wednesday.

Frankly, I have trouble believing either story, at least partially. When Lawton says he "expects" Lecavalier to play for the Lightning next season, it's not exactly a gurantee. Sure, he may expect that to happen, but it doesn't mean it's going to happen.

I also have no doubt that Gainey was trying to work out a trade leading up to the draft, but I also believe that the ship may have sailed on that front because Gainey now has to concentrate on building his team for next season, and he's in far too critical a position to be putting all his eggs in one basket.

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported Saturday that Gainey was scheduled to talk to Saku Koivu's agent Don Baizley today at some point, which means he's probably having talks with some of his other key guys as well. I would imagine Alex Tanguay, Alex Kovalev and maybe even Mathieu Schneider's agents will all get calls today, while Mike Komisarek continues mulling over the long-term deal Gainey has already offered.

Gainey had better sign one or two of his own free agents by Tuesday afternoon or else he risks losing all of them on the open market, which would be an unmitigated disaster because I doubt he'll find a way to replace all of them with quality players in free agency.

A nice one-stop shopping trip would be to talk to J.P. Barry about the Sedin twins, who are back in Sweden. Apparently, Canucks GM Mike Gillis is there as well, again according to LeBrun, so there may be a chance that the Sedins re-up with Vancouver. But if they don't, I'm starting to think they are the best fit for the Canadiens at this point.

TSN's Darren Dreger mentions the Canadiens as a possible landing point for the Sedins, and his stat that the Sedins are two of only a dozen players in the NHL to score 70 points in every season since the lockout makes them a very enticing product.

The Sedins reportedly made an offer to Gillis that they would each sign 12-year, $63 million contracts, which is a rather miniscule cap hit of just over $5 million a season. I think Gainey might jump at that offer, but I also believe it was a bit of a hometown discount, if $126 million could ever be called that.

Gainey, as mellow a guy as you'll find, has to be freaking out a little right about now. July 1 is less than 48 hours away and he hasn't been able to complete a single trade nor has he signed any of his players, which definitely was not his master plan, assuming he had one.

That's not to say the trade market will shut down Wednesday as teams begin their ridiculous derby for free agents, especially if some team out there spends way too much on a given player and needs to shed salary before the start of next season.

But the possibility that Gainey enters the season sitting on a ton of cap space certainly remains, unless he's in the process of weaving some serious magic and negotiating with three or four players at once.

While the announcement that Guy Boucher will be coaching the Hamilton Bulldogs is certainly good news, as I've already made my feelings clear on that issue, the Habs need to get going on announcing some actual player transactions very soon.

Otherwise, what looked to be a summer of opportunity will quickly turn into a summer of doom.

UPDATE: From USA Today hockey writer Kevin Allen's twitter feed (you can follow it here) come these two Habs updates:

"GM Bob Gainey will be in discussions again today with agent Matt Keator about new deal for Komisarek. Habs desperate to keep Komisarek"

Then, a couple of hours later, comes this:

"Starting to believe Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin could be $5 million free agents because of the lack of available D men."


Anonymous said...

there are a couple of possible scenrios here.

1) absolutely must re-sign komisarek. gamble that you can sign ufa beauchemin, making markov slightly more expendable in a lecavalier trade. get it done, bob.

2) make the pitch of the century to the sedins, solve your 1st line in one fell swoop and without giving up an asset to do so and hope that hossa or havlat will want join the party.

3) armaggedon

pfhabs said...


Markov expendable ? how did they do without him in the 4 game playoff series against the Bs ? ...its amazing to me that anyone with serious knowledge of this team would even suggest that as a possibility...simply amazing !

neither Beauchemin nor Komisarek are #1 D men...with whom would you replace the 3rd best scoring D man in the NHL who can also defend, run a PP and work the PK ?

if you found that player do you think you'd pay only $5.75 million/year as salary and at what cost of players ?

Markov is a top 10 defenceman and you want to trade him for a guy with 3 surgeries in 3 years, a cap hit of $7.72 for the next 11 years and a no trade clause as of July 1.

they can barely bring in 1 UFA a year but now you're hoping for the sedins, havlat, beauchemin and just boggles the mind

Apron is there any question that Bob's UFA signing policy of waiting till the end of the season is by far the dumbest thing of many he was responsible for last year ? he better hope for a minor miracle otherwise they will be in the Taylor Hall lottery.

Ted said...

Arpon - according to RDS (I haven't read this myself it was on habs I/O)
the Canadiens will wait to make offers to both Tanguay and Koivu after July 1. In other words we don't want you back.

If that's the case the Canadiens would probably deserve to lose all of the free agents. If you do that to Koivu what message do you send to Komisarek? This would be one of the most classless acts they could muster.

As a business man even if you don't want Koivu at the numbers you think he wants, you make him an offer he will refuse and you let him leave with dignity. He deserves that in the very least.

If he takes the numbers you offer him, he be a better third or fourth line center than the ones you think you have and that includes Lapierre.

That really PMO

jkr said...

Actually I think Mrkov was #2 overall in scoring among D men last season. I'm nitpicking pfhabs but I agree - the Habs defense without Markov is a disaster, especially with free agency looming.

Anonymous said...

sign both Komi and Beauchemin at 5 mill each no
problem, keep Markov and start with def. first
it all starts with gettin the puck to your forwards and keeping it in the oppositions end. we have a lot of young forwards give them the "puck and let them skate with it"! spend your money on keeping the puck out of the net.

Sliver24 said...

Ted, you only make Koivu a BS offer you're expecting him to reject if you don't want to re-sign him. The Habs could still hope to keep him around so why piss him off with a low-ball offer?

I think Koivu wants to win. I think he told Bob that he wouldn't sign into the status quo but that if Bob could show him a commitment to winning in the next three years or so he'd give him the hometown discount and finish his career as Habs captain.

Bob was trying to do just that by getting Levcavalier last week but he got screwed, once again, by TB and the cowboys that are running that franchise.

So maybe Koivu has told Bob he'll give him some more time. That he'll field offers from other teams but not put pen to paper without talking to Bob first.

Wouldn't that be a refreshing stance from an already-rich but Cup-deprived NHLer?

Now Bob's got to shore up the offence by sealing the deal for Vinny or signing the Sedins or Marleau. He's got to improve the D by re-signing Komisarek and adding Beauchemin or another top-four blueliner.

Once that's done Saku will be able to sign for whatever is left under the cap and help get to the promised land while wearing the Sainte-Flanelle.

Ted said...

Sliver24 - If you're right then I take it all back but I just heard the season ending sign off in which Saku indicated if he wasn't signed by July 1 he'd be gone. Now if he stays I'll be a happy camper but you get the impression that these folks haven't talked at all and that is a crying shame.

I'll remain hopeful but skeptical.