Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The rumour that refuses to die

The Habs cap situation appeared to put to rest all talk of Vincent Lecavalier coming home to wear the CH, but the most recent twist in the Tampa Bay Lightning's ownership soap opera could very well put the wheels of this rumour back in motion.

First, a look at the Canadiens tight cap situation.

Guillaume Latendresse signed a one-year contract with the Habs, the team announced today, and according to RDS the deal is worth $803,000.

That's a cut in pay from the $850,000 Latendresse earned this season, which many people will likely feel is warranted, but is still shocking for a 22-year-old player who still has his best years in front of him.

Bob Gainey obviously had the knowledge that Latendresse would likely take just about any offer rather than hold out for a richer deal, so getting that kind of a discount from a homegrown guy is not that great of an accomplishment.

Still, considering the tight finanacial quarters Gainey has put himself into, saving any amount of money on a signing has to be considered a bit of a coup.

According to the Habs cap space sits at just under $6 million when the Latendresse signing is accounted for with Tomas Plekanec, Matt D'Agostini and Gregory Stewart left to sign as restricted free agents. That number includes the $500K due to Kyle Chipchura and the $942,000 cap hit for Ryan O'Byrne, both of whom could possibly start the season in Hamilton, but does not include the $875,000 contract of Max Pacioretty, who will likely make the team.

In any case, getting that kind of a discount on Latendresse was clearly vital if Gainey has any hope of having some wiggle room to account for injuries once the season starts, or even before that.

Gainey mentioned prior to the start of free agency that he didn't want to spend all his money in one shot because he didn't want to find himself in the same situation as the summer of 2006, when he signed Sergei Samsonov and didn't have any money left for Jean-Pierre Dumont when he suddenly became available after arbitration.

A potential situation like that came up when the Blackhawks looked like they may have had Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg become unrestricted free agents because the team botched their qualifying offers, but both ultimately re-signed with the team, likely for more money than the Blackhwaks were willing to give.

Now, it appears that the Lightning may once again come back to bite Gainey in the ass. The St Petersberg Times reported Tuesday that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has imposed a $10 million cash call on Lightning co-owner Len Barrie with a deadline for this Friday.

Why is this important? Well, if Barrie is unable to come up with the cash by the end of the week, it's entirely possible he will be pushed out of the rocky ownership relationship in Tampa and the reins of the team will be handed to Oren Koules. If previous reports are to be believed, Koules wants to keep costs down in an attempt to make the team more profitable (which never works, because no one wants to go watch a team with no stars), and that process would begin by shipping out Lecavalier.

Yes, there's that name again.

Lecavalier's new 11-year, $85 million contract kicked in on July 1, and along with it came a no-movement clause, which essentially means he would need to give his approval of a trade. So, in that sense, his situation hasn't changed a whole lot since that media firestorm around the all-star break when everyone assumed Lecavalier to Montreal was a natural denouement to the Lightning's financial difficulties.

But if Barrie is indeed pushed out Friday, which is far from a sure thing as he attempts to sell a portion of his Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa on Vancouver Island, then the possibility exists that Lecavalier would become available on the trade market, and Gainey's biggest commodity in those talks - cap space - would be all dried up.

There is a school of thought out there that the Canadiens would be better off without Lecavalier and more specifically his contract, which could prove to be an albatross as Lecavalier's body looks to be wearing down. Yes, he's only 29, but he's been in the NHL since he was 18, so he's an old 29. Still, Lecavalier's lineage makes him a uniquely attractive commodity to the Canadiens, enough of one that Gainey and the organization would likely roll the dice on his health.

With a $7.73 million cap hit, the Habs would have to send salary the other way in order to make any potential trade for Lecavalier work, but the Lightning are interested in shedding salary so it's doubtful they would be interested.

However, this is where the structure of Scott Gomez's contract becomes interesting. His cap hit is $7.36 million, slightly lower than Lecavalier's, but in terms of actual dollars being paid out Gomez is a far more affordable option. Lecavalier is due to be paid $10 million a year for the first seven years of his contract, while Gomez is due $8 million for the next two years, $7.5 million in three years and then $5.5 million and $4.5 million in the final two years of his contract.

So, over the next five years, the Lightning would save $16.5 million in salary with Gomez as the No. 1 centre instead of Lecavalier even though the cap difference between the two is negligeable. If they were to agree to take Gomez and a package of prospects in exchange for Lecavalier, the Lightning could tell their fans they received a quality player in return who could bridge the gap between Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos as the team's top centre, while also saving a good chunk of change in the process.

I'm not sure if Brian Lawton would agree to a deal like this, especially since suitors will be plentiful for Lecavalier's services, but financially it may still be an interesting option for him. As far as Gainey's concerned, trading Gomez is the only option that remains if he still wants to get Lecavalier, and he'll likely have to gut the organization in order to do it because in the end it will have cost him Chris Higgins, Ryan McDonagh, Pavel Valentenko plus two or three quality prospects he'd have to send Lawton's way.

I feel it's an unlikely situation, and this whole discussion could be moot if Barrie remains a co-owner of the team. But it would appear that despite Gainey's heavy spending and apparent turning of the page on Lecavalier, this is a rumour that could very well survive the summer.


pfhabs said...


-I know you are only reporting what certain elements are hoping will happen but can we just forget Vinny...Gainey did enough damage with Gomez giving away a 1st paring D man in McDonagh and allowing Sather to sign Gaborik with the savings on Gomez's cap give away 3 more front line prospects is shear stupidity and if acted on Gainey should be fired within the first minute Geoff Molson comes on board in August

for all those wanting Vinny please take a valium...remember that Gainey gave up a 1st and a 2nd and $5.5M to get Tanguay for 16 goals in 50 games and now Tanguay can't even find employment....Bob is desperate and if Lawton puts Vinny under his nose he will sell the farm and this team will be a disaster for years to come

Anonymous said...

At best MacDonough was a potential NHL first pairing D man only.

Not sure I see the evidence that Bob is desperate.

So what about Tanguay and what he gave up for him... with hindsight, every GM has a few Tanguays lying around. Did not hear too many people complaining at the time or when Tanguay was leading the team in scoring.

Agree we should steer clear of Lecavalier.

Wencz said...

Interesting stuff, Arpon.

I always look fwd to your blogs. Indeed, Bob would be pushing it if he were to add more prospects or young players going the other way. Other than that, if he was intent on getting Vinny before Gomez, not sure why he shouldn't do it.

I am happy with Gomez though, despite his contract and poor results of late.

Keep 'em coming.

Sliver24 said...

Some very, very interesting points Arp. I particularly like the breakdown of salaries due versus actual cap hit.

While I'm blown out of the water that pfhabs had nothing but bad things to say (it's hard to type sarcasm but, believe me, it's there) you have me daydreaming again and I like it.

Lecavalier is an out and out upgrade on Gomez, recent injury problems or not. Take into account that Vinny's cap hit is virtually identical to Gomez's and it makes the swap a no-brainer.

The Habs easily have the extra money to spend.

The wild card here is Vinny's no-trade clause. While you may be right that there will be suitors aplenty the point will be moot if Vinny handcuffs Lawton by severely limiting the number of teams he'll go to.

And Gomez would be an easy commodity to sell in Tampa. He's American and has two cup rings.

Couple that with the fact that his contract will help keep the Lightning's cap hit artificially high (they'll be able to show their fans their "continued commitment to winning" by spending near the cap) and this seems to me like a match made in heaven.

As long as Bob can get Lecavalier without selling the farm (literally, kind of) I think it would be a great deal for both teams.

Maybe we could throw in the midgets and include Gionta for St. Louis!

pfhabs said...


-McDonagh is ahead of schedule in development and a number of hockey people (read not me)have said he'll be a 1st pairing Dman. nuff said

-Gainey is desparate, in my view, because all that was wrong last year is his fault, and he rid himself of the same core that got him to first place in 07-08. rather than fess up he chose to blame others as opposed to looking in the mirror


-I knew the scent of Vinny would have you drooling again but as I pointed out for your sake take a valium....the cap hits are not similar when did 11 years and 5 years equate ? and the prospects would probably include 2 of Pacioretty, Subban and Weber not Carle or Fischer or Maxwell. at which point if I were Timmins i'd resign and find a real hockey GM to work for

Anonymous said...

Right, analysts say he may eventually be a first pairing D man when he gets to the NHL.

I am just reacting to your first post that said he already is a first pairing D man. There is a very big difference between already being something and having the potential to get there, particularly when it comes to hockey players. Let's wait and see how it actually turns out.

As for your arguments supporting your assertion that Gainey is desperate... will those are just incoherent nonsense. Not one of your agruments holds water.

What Gainey did this year is a logical progression when seen in the context of the last 3 years. Desperation would have been holding on to the 'core' you refer to.

Yves said...

Great post Arpon.

I'm sure this rumour will persist for a little bit... I thought it would long have been past but this rumour has come back to life several times in the last year.

On Lecavalier.... that's a deal I wouldn't make. I agree with you that he is an "old 29".. and his contract is a totally huge gamble.

When you break down Lecavalier vs Gomez contracts... Gomez is the easiest to take for sure... and at first I wasn't a fan of that deal.

On McDonagh, I know there's been lots of hype, and lots of projections by many media outlets and scouts. One thing that remains clear in my mind is that he's now 20 (correct?), he has yet to play in a professional hockey game (AHL or NHL).. so as many "sure thing" guys before him, I would only label him as "potential". He's been seen as a good prospect for the last couple of years.... but even great prospects sometimes don't make it to their projected potential.

I've always thought Lecavalier would look great in Montreal but the 2 factors that I believe make it a bad move is his recent injury woes (old 29) and the contract that would potentially cripple a team's cap for years....

Couple those 2 factors together and it looks so risky I'm not even sure Wall Street gamblers would attempt to cash in on "potential" rewards...

I think Gainey has done fine in remodeling the team... we've got a solid base for the next few years.

Paul said...

While Tampa would never go for it, the only way I would make this trade is Vinny for Gomez straight up (at best, a lesser roster player like Metropolit or a second tier prospect like Maxwell, perhaps both, but nothing more than that). The Habs would be doing Tampa a financial favour (as noted above and in the blog) and give them PR cover (Gomez is a better sell than Higgins and Plekanec and Gorges, if we believe the original rumours from last Dec.).

I would love to have Lecavalier--but his insane contract (term more so than money) is something I do not love at all. In fact, I think the next CBA, since it won't be able to get the non-guaranteed contracts like the NFL--the only thing that really makes a cap work, should at least impose a maximum 5 year limit on contracts. These 10+ year contracts are just a way for richer teams to circumvent the cap anyway.

If the Habs do take on that insane contract (a very tiny possibility, in my opinion, as this latest "Vinny" rumour is rather thin), then it should not cost them more than Gomez and a couple of filler bodies like I listed above. The real value for Tampa is the lesser financial burden. If they want a horde of players too, let them find another dance partner. Vinny's not worth it.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Paul.

jkr said...

I have to agree with the poster that asserts that this works only as a one for one swap with Gomez & Lecavalier. Enough has been given up already.

As for McDonagh, this is a wait and see. He's 20 years old & has yet to play pro hockey. Before we make projections at the pro level, someone should check his progress at Wisconsin. Arpon, that's you. :)

pfhabs said...

re potential comments on McDonagh...with that logic I guess we'd take Lapierre, Plekanecs and Metropolit over Tavares because the latter are playing in the league but Tavares hasn't so he's just potential and the others are proven ?

so I guess a trade of Louis Leblanc for Radek Bonk is in order ? proven vs a mystery ...ya right

Anonymous said...

arp, habsinsideout is reporting that lats' new contract is a 5% increase. did they mean decrease?


Sliver24 said...

NK, I think it's an increase from $800,000. Latendresse's cap hit last season was $850,000 but I believe that's because of a portion of the signing bonus he received when he signed his first pro contract.

Anonymous said...

pfhabs... no. Are you being purposely obtuse?

No one is saying what you are proposing in your last post. Are you being purposely obtuse? All they are saying is don't refer to prospects as established first liners/first pairing players.

When you refer to McDonagh that way, it makes the trade look more lop-sided than it really is. Given the risk associated with prospects, Gainey made the right trade. No one is happy to lose McDonagh, but that does not mean the trade was bad.

I get that the media questioned the trade, but 80% of the media (Arpon excluded, which is one reason I come here every day to see what he has written) does not know it's ass from it's elbow.

Anonymous said...

thanks sliver. that makes more sense.

i can't believe ob is making close to a mil...


pfhabs said...


-I understand the diff. between prospects and proven; say in MTL cases Plekanecs vs Maxwell for example and even the difference in prospects; i.e., sure things like Crosby & Ovechkins vs say LeBlanc looks good at his age and projects well but no guarantee at this point. Sid, Ovie and a few others were gold plated guarantees to be NHLers . and McDonagh is not/not a goldplated guarantee he's projected to be a #1 pairing but anything can even if we assume all scouting reports (Timmins included) are wrong you think Higgins & Valentenko and Gaborik (because we cleared their cap for them to get gaborik) isn't enough for Gomez ?

Gomez in the last 5 years has scored 29 points more than Saku who is 6 years older, miles more worn down with injuries, didn't play with the likes of Stevens, Neidemeyer, Elias, Langenbrunner, Brodeur, Jagr etc and Gomez played on 2 Cup winners...Gomez has underachieved looking at those criteria

Bob paid enough with 3 elements throwing in the 4th (your top D prospect) is not good GMship . that is the crux of what my beef is on that trade. if you think its a good trade fine that's your opinion, Bob overpaid again

as for needing Gomez to get Cammelleri I think $5 x 6 years would have brought him in anyway and if Gionta said no way without Scott well Kovalev isn't a bad second choice, nights off notwithstanding...but doubt anyone else was giving Gionta $5 x 5 years

Anonymous said...

We are not going to agree. Maybe it's because we approach it differently.

With respect, I don't care what your arguments are... I support the team which means I support the ability of the organization to manage itself effectively. If the President, who has the authority, capability and understanding of the actual situation feels Bob is doing is as badly as you say he is, then Bob will be let go. Until that happens, your wrong about Bob's competence no matter what you say.

You also have to look at these things in balance. You can't judge someone's competence for their job on discrete actions like a trade. Even if this trade stunk - which I don't think it does (your argument that somehow we gave the Rangers Gaborik is silly)- you have to look at his performance over all his responsibilities... oversight of the Hamilton Bulldogs and the farm system (2nd highest ranked system according to Hockey's Future), drafting, the systems that support the players, team performance over the mid-term, etc.

On balance, the Canadiens are light years ahead of where they were just 5 years ago. Go check that out. That's Bob's doing.

pfhabs said...


-with respect, use that thing sitting on your shoulders for more than a hanger for your ears

1. in Bob I do not blindly trust

2. Sather was up against the cap and no one was taking Gomez whom they've been trying to unload for a while except for Bob. the CH made Gaborik possible for the NYR. gaborik is part of the equation whether you like it or not...without Bob taking gomez NYR do not get Gaborik; 1+1=2 not 5

2. to use your argument in anology if you were an fan of the Islanders during the days of Milbury as GM you'd blindly support Mike's trading of Luongo and the rest of the allstar team he gave away and then signing DiPietro for 15yrs simply because you're a fan of the team and you trust them implicitly ?...if that is what you are saying good luck to you...btw I support the Canadiens I do not support Bob Gainey

I've looked at his 5 years of work and it's less than adequate on the pro side...the amateur side is fine under Timmins, the pro side under Gauthier is a joke...need I remind you of them waiving Beauchemin & Hainsey, getting nothing for Souray, Streit, Koivu, Ryder, and Komisarek. trading for samsonov, giving Bonk $3.3 for 3 years, getting Abeschier, Johnson, Janik and a load of other stiffs..need I remind you that Ribeiro who is a top 6 forward in dallas was exchanged for a guy whose ankle was still in tatters and played sparingly for less than 1 year. look at Bob's 5 years of work. the only real coups were getting rid of Theodore's contract of 5.0, 5.5 and 6.0 although he did give it to him originally, and trading Rivet for Georges and a 2nd (Pacioretty)...please name another 2 or 3 good moves over 5-6 years

-yes Hamilton is better as is Cincinnati. there are more prospects with a better chance of making the NHL than there were 5 years do not have to tell me about the THN ranking of farm systems I have the article BUT 5-6 years ago the Canadiens were a bubble team to make the playoffs and they are still a bubble team to make the playoffs in progress there on the pro side, on Gauthier's side of the house, Bob's confidant and right hand advisor.

not my role to convince you nor do I care if you are or are think you know the facts fair enough but I think I know them better

end of story..we can agree to disagree

ps: Boivin knows squat about hockey he's the marketing financial guy who likes to make pronouncements about the language requirements of the coach and the origin of the impact player they will trade for. Gainey reports directly to Gillett in case you didn't know

Anonymous said...

I was going to respond to you but there is no point.

Your going to keep dumping these baseless pronouncements out there, changing absolutely nothing in the process. I just don't get people like you... you're a fan of the team and all you do is crap on it and its people.

It's just cynicism and hot air and I'm just provoking you to keep it up.

So enough.

Sliver24 said...

I tend to agree with Anon and PMK there pfhabs. Your rants have become cynical and even worse, pretty random.

In a recent post you made some offhanded comment about how Bob could have signed Gionta for $4.5 million a year because there were no other offers and then you proceeded to outline how Bob went wrong based on that assumption.

Well that's a pretty big stretch at the best of times, and unless you're some other NHL GM moonlighting as a blog poster you had absolutely no idea what you were talking about when you made that comment.

Also, in your post in the other thread to PMK you state:

"as for McGuire seems to me the guy was an assistant coach, head coach and assistant GM in Hartford; assistant coach in Ottawa, assistant in Pittsburg, coached in minor pros and college level and was a euro scout for some NHL team...please tell us all what did you ever do in the show ?

That's a pretty ridiculous statement coming from someone that's been throwing around so much anti-Gainey vitriol over the past few weeks.

Bob has played, coached and managed in the NHL - uninterrupted, mind you - for 36 years. He also personally built a Stanley Cup winning team. In other words, he's much more qualified than Pierre Mcguire. In fact it's not even close.

On top of that it's almost 100% certain that you know much, much less about Gainey's philosophy than PMK does about Mcguire's since Mcguire spends his life spewing opinions all over the airwaves while and Bob spends his trying to keep them to himself.

PMK is at least making informed assessments of Mcguire's known, publicly aired opinions. Your MO is to put words/thoughts in Bob's mouth, make wild and often unreasonable assumptions, and then criticize Gainey based on that misinformation.

I think you just need to scale it back a little. Until relatively recently I enjoyed the edge to your posts. While I usually disagreed with your opinions at least I was compelled to think about it and respond to them.

Now they just seem to be argumentative which makes me feel that there's no real reason to bother following up.

pfhabs said...

PMK & Sliver24:

-let me see if using a bit of CH history can explain where I'm coming from. forget about the fact that we may disagree or any other divergence .

-in the Corey-Houle-Tremblay regime they managed to trade arguably the best and at least one of the top 5 goaliesin the history of the NHL- Patrick Roy

-now the trade above not equate to anything that Boivin-Gainey-Gauthier have done recently nor do any of the names equate in terms of stature nor NHL accomplishments

-I hated the trade, the trade was made for reasons that are beyond me but it was made...thought the deal was dumb and the management team dumber-- still supported the team. on a different plane and a lot less in significance (as no one tradeda HoF player for ego issues). don't like the moves as played out (with exception of Cammalleri & Moen) think some were less than intelligent still support the team.

-again equality between players moved out nor in is not there

-that's where it is for me...its different for you both that's fine...

-as for Vinny I see Mr Barrie's demise has been delayed and doubt Bob would undo everything he just did to get Vinny