Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Plekanec to play for his payday

Tomas Plekanec came to an agreement with the Montreal Canadiens today on a one-year contract worth a reported $2.75 million.

That's $500,000 more than Chris Higgins signed for with the New York Rangers, but considering the injury-plagued year that Higgins had with Montreal last year, I guess that's reasonable.

I personally thought Plekanec would have topped out at about $2.5 million, but apparently the Canadiens weren't convinced they could win their case in arbitration, which was due for July 30. There's also the idea that the arbitration process can often times sour a relationship, so it's probably best to pay a bit extra just to avoid it.

Now Plekanec will be slated for unrestricted free agency next summer, and I think the fate of some of the Canadiens UFA's this month has proven that a player is best served by playing on a winning team rather than worrying about his own numbers. Just ask Rob Scuderi, or Hal Gill for that matter.

If my calculations are correct, working under the assumption that Ryan O'Byrne and Kyle Chipchura will play in Hamilton while Max Pacioretty plays in Montreal, I figure this leaves the Habs with anywhere between $2.2 million and $3.8 million in cap space (depending on whether or not you factor in the bonus cushion) with only Matt D'Agostini and Gregory Stewart left to re-sign.

That would be an ample amount of contingency funds heading into the season, because as little as $1 million in cap room at the trade deadline can take you a long way, seeing as most of a player's salary is already paid by then.

The possibility also remains that Bob Gainey is not done with his makeover and that a trade is in the works, in which case that cap space could be all dried up by the time the season starts.


Sliver24 said...

I think we overpaid by at least 750,000.

What, exactly, did he do last year to merit that kind of money?

In any case, if I'm Latendresse I'm firing my agent and giving Plek's guy a call.

YourHabs said...

I agree, 2.5 million tops. I was pretty suprised Gainey took the easy way out, but I don't think he wanted to lose him.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see this swedish center we signed come up and assert himself as our number 2 center, which would make plekanec expendible. If we can package plekanec and Sergei, to get like a patrick sharp, I would do that in a second. This new roster has a very north american flavor, and plekanec is on the soft side.

pfhabs said...

if a two-way contract is any indication doubt Tomas is under any pressure talent wise from Johannson who's totals in the SEL are not that earth shattering; 08-39pts/53 gms; 09-34pts/49gms

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Over the past 3 years, Thomas has been one of the best second line centres in the league. About this time last year, many thought he was our first line centre. I doubt that Johannson will threaten him much - although it would be great if he did. Would be great to have another good centre.

Last year, the presence of Lang had a big impact on Plekanec's numbers - influencing his powerplay time - and he still had 20 goals and played well defensively.

He is a good player and I hope he gets a chance with some good wingers to show his stuff this year.

pfhabs said...


-the whole issue of caplogy is a confusing one especially when you add in the bonus cushion which allows you to artifically increase your cap this year but that increase is charged by the exact same amount next year

-without employing their bonus cushion the CH sits at about $1.6 left on the cap ($3.2 with cushion)according to NHLnumbers.com and other sources. so if D'Agostini & Stewart accept their QOs of $558K and $550K and one expects they will as they have virtually no negotiating rights that would leave the CH with about $500,000 of cap space. cutting it dangerously close given that injuries are the great unknown in any year and no one knows if Bob will or will not invoke the bonus cushion.

-this sets up a number of questions:
1. will they go with a 22 or 23 man roster ?
2. who of Stewart, D'Agostini, Pacioretty, O'Byrne or S Kostitsyn will find themselves in Hamilton for most if not all year ?
3. who is NHL ready or who can use more time in Hamilton and whom would more easily accept that demotion ?

-any injury, trade or defection (KHL)will affect the numbers but some things may be more certain than others

1. both Pacioretty and D'Agostini faded badly after initially having good starts in Montreal

2. Chipchurra with a 1 year discounted contract is probably on his make-it-or-break-it year and it would seem silly to have him in Hamilton if that is the case. this is a player who has great leadership abilities, a long CHL, WJC and AHL pedigree filled with success, great work ethic and head space and size. if not for that achilles rupture (anyone expecting Lang at 38 to come back think again) would probably be the starting 3rd line centre ahead of Lapierre. so I see him staying in Montreal

3. the contract given to Plekanecs was not forced on Bob by anyone. so in a year where Chipchurra and Lantendresse for 2 take virtually no raise the underachiever is given a $900,000 raise, why ? this is strangely familiar to the raise Gainey gave Ribeiro the year before he was traded for less than stellar behaviour off the ice. Ribeiro is on record saying he and his agent were not expecting the raise they got and one can assume that Plekanecs was also pleasantly surprised by Gainey's recent generosity. if traded hopefully we get more for Plekanecs than a Dman with a bad ankle aka Niinimaa

4) if not traded Plekanec better perform because some of his teammates took discounts for mediocre years but Tomas need a raise and wants "respect" to quote him from an article I recently read for his performance last year

-trouble brewing ?

pfhabs said...


-on another note I see a suggestion that Plekanec and Kostitsyn would be traded in a heartbeat for Patrick Sharp. I would imagine that Chicago would not hestitate in that bit of generosity either. Plekanec and Sharp are esssentially the same player statistically, 1 yr difference in age and both equally "soft". adding in S Kostitsyn would be a bonus to Chicago something Bob likes to do in helping his fellow GMs.

-people should remember than when Kane-Gagne-Kostitsyn were in London, Sergui had 131 points to Kane's 145 and Gagne's 118. not shabby for the unknown one of the trio. also Dale Hunter said of the 3, Sergui was the "most ready for the NHL". so before we start tossing around players for free you need to evaluate what you are getting vs what you are giving. love him, hate him or indifferent to his attitude and off ice stuff from last year Sergui is a talented asset with grit you've spent large amounts of $$$ in developing and not a bargain basement throw in nor a 4th line player.

-as for all the Marleau trade talk SJS are at $56.3 on the cap and would love to get some relief but unless Bob has lost his mind he should not succumb to the temptation because the cost in young players will be high and the CH is not a Patrick Marleau away from the Conference finals let alone the Stanley Cup finals. a one year and potentailly gone Marleau is not worth any combination of Halak, Subban, S. Kostitsyn, Pacioretty nor Weber

-one final point. at the risk of upsetting the pro-gainey faction that lingers (I sometimes wonder if 1 or 2 of the respondents to your blog do not secretly work for Donald Beauchamp)I would offer this little idea for who best fits the role for second line centre.

-there's a guy that can out point, out work, out lead, out faceoff, out heart, out everything and has done so for the last 4+ years that Plekanec has been in Montreal and only costs $500,000 more than Plekanec's unearned inflated contract...this player wanted to be in Montreal and in times of adversity never onced talked about his female alter ego as being the problem but unfortunately for Bob's infinite wisdom he'll be playing in Anaheim this year..

-imagine for a moment Saku playing the position he should have been all these years, second line centre, playing Koivu style hockey for about 2 years until Ben Maxwell or another is ready to step in. boggles the mind to think that the elements are/were there to improve the team but CH management chooses much more expensive options that tie the organization's hands for at least 5 years

Anonymous said...

tk, tk, tk, tk, tk, tk, tk, tk, tk, tk, tk... the sound of a different type of broken record.

pfhabs said...

your honour I rest my case...

for some thinking is a past time best not exercised.a perfect "fan"

Arpon Basu said...

Hey PF,
Sorry, I took a bit of a breather from the blog for a while. I think you raise some excellent points in your comments and I agree with you that Saku would make a far better second line centre than Pleks. But, I think Gainey's moves this offseason showed that we was trying to change the culture of the team, and not bringing Saku back was a big part of that. Not because of any shortcomings he necessarily had, but I feel Bob wanted to allow the new players to take a leadership role on the team, and it would have been impossible for them to do so if Saku were still here because it would be natural for them to defer to him.