Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The White Knight?

No, I'm not talking about Mathieu Darche.

I'm referring to Petr Sykora, who was placed on waivers Tuesday by the Minnesota Wild and who looks like he would be a perfect pickup for the Canadiens. Not because he would rescue the season, but because he could simply rescue the month.


Well, adding Sykora would have several ripple effects for the Habs. First and foremost, he could slide into a spot that has become a black hole since the knee injury to Andrei Kostitsyn. A player like Sykora, who's only 33, would seem like a good fit alongside Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri. Not a perfect fit, because he's not 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, but a good enough fit under the circumstances.

He's hit the 20-goal plateau in each of the past 10 seasons, and while he's not the player he once was, I doubt Sykora's done scoring goals. Playing with Plekanec and Cammalleri certainly wouldn't hurt.

But the residual effects of adding a guy like Sykora could be just as beneficial. His arrival in the Habs room would, for the first time since Kostitsyn's injury, create some competition in the lineup. Montreal has been carrying the minimum number of forwards for the past few weeks, which doesn't exactly instill fear in the likes of Matt D'Agostini, Max Pacioretty, Maxim Lapierre and others who are playing like they long for a seat in the press box. With all due respect to Darche, I don't think he instills that fear either.

Sykora would simply help bridge the gap until Kostitsyn's return, because even though everyone remains convinced Sergei Kostitsyn will naturally re-ignite that Plekanec line, I'm not so sure. Although the little Kostitsyn has not benefited from having quality linemates all season, he hasn't exactly set the world on fire. Also, no one can be sure how brother Andrei will play once he returns, considering how hot and cold he tends to be. Having Sykora around would guard against any post-injury slump from the elder Kostitsyn.

The beauty of this possibility is that it would not be a panic move, it would not cost the team any assets and could even serve to bring in assets eventually. If Sykora were to catch fire with the Habs, it's conceivable he could get flipped at the deadline for a pick to a contender (hello, Pittsburgh) looking for some scoring depth.

Furthermore, the chances of the Habs getting him greatly improved Tuesday night.

Sykora will be on waivers until noon Wednesday, and if I understand the rules correctly, it is the team's record at the time of the waiver claim that is used to determine which team gets the player. After Tuesday night's action that saw nearly all of the Habs playoff competitors win, Montreal was 24th in the league standings. But in terms of points percentage, which is what is used to determine waiver priority, the Habs are actually 25th. That leaves five teams - Carolina, Edmonton, Toronto, Columbus and Tampa Bay - ahead of the Canadiens on the waiver priority list. Of those teams, I could only see Columbus and Tampa Bay showing any interest.

But why, I hear you asking yourselves, would a team so far down the standings even bother picking up a veteran player when it would be preferable giving your youngsters ice time? Because, as dire as the situation is for the Habs right now, and as mediocre as they are as a team overall, they remain only six points out of fifth place in the conference. A three or four-game win streak and you're right back in the thick of it.

Of course, based on how little the Habs showed over the weekend, there's little reason to believe this team could string together two wins, let alone four. But adding a potential sparkplug like Sykora could - in the short term - serve the Canadiens purposes just fine. The team needs a top-six forward desperately, and here they have one served up on a silver platter.

I'll leave you with this, in case you missed it Tuesday night, as P.K. Subban and Cedrick Desjardins were the stars of the shootout in the AHL all-star game:


jkr said...

Bob McKenzie just tweeted that Sykora cleared waivers.

Sliver24 said...

JKR, that doesn't necessarily mean we won't see him in the Sainte-Flanelle in the very near future.

Sykora, a UFA at year's end, is making $1.6 million this year (which is also his cap hit).

Now that Sykora has cleared waivers I believe the Wild can send him to the AHL. Once there, if they recall him, he'd have to be waived again. Any team claiming him on re-entry waivers would only be on the hook for half of his salary and cap hit, with the Wild forced to eat the other half.

I don't know if that's what the Wild plan to do but why else would they waive him? If they figured the Habs were interested they could have traded him for 'future considerations' at the full cap hit and ensured none of their Western Conference competitors picked him up.

john deere said...

I see it as a sign that Montreal is going to be a seller rather than a buyer at the trade deadline.

Sliver24 said...

Oh, I forgot to comment on...

"...in terms of points percentage, which is what is used to determine waiver priority, the Habs are actually 25th. That leaves five teams - Carolina, Edmonton, Toronto, Columbus and Tampa Bay - ahead of the Canadiens on the waiver priority list."

How frigging sad is that!

pmk said...

you want sad sliver how about this little stat from Mike Boone:

"Of the 66 games the Canadiens have played since Guy Carbonneau was fired, how many have they won in regulation time?"

Dubé, as good a hockey analyst as there is, guessed 30.

The answer: 16.


nk said...

why aren't the habs interested in sykora? they'd rather dress 8dmen?

pmk...that's the worst stat i've heard all year.

what a disaster. at least they got rid of bgl.

Sliver24 said...

I'm assuming everyone's heard about BGL getting the axe?

john deere said...

I think the scouts are in Montreal doing their get together and it gives them a chance to see all 8 dmen playing. That's the only thing that makes sense to me.

What a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide performance against the Blues last night.