Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beyond comprehension

I was busy covering the Rogers Cup tennis tournament this evening when word began filtering its way through the press box that the Canadiens had traded away AHL All-Star goalie Cedrick Desjardins to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Karri Ramo.

Once I got past the initial feelings of disbelief, it was confusion that took over my thoughts as I tried to figure why - in the same summer you traded away perhaps the finest young goalie in the league, let alone the organization - you would immediately trade another promising young goalie for a castaway who has been relegated to KHL duty?

Several hours later, and I'm still wondering the same thing.

Ramo is reportedly under contract for one more year with Omsk and therefore will not be anywhere near Montreal this season. Desjardins, meanwhile, may get a chance to start in Tampa Bay sometime in the near future if Dan Ellis and Mike Smith falter. But frankly, if ever Carey Price doesn't find his game this season Desjardins might very well have been playing in Montreal this year as well.

Admittedly not a likely scenario, but a possible one nonetheless. Now, if Price were to get injured and Alex Auld proved inadequate as a full-time starter, what do the Canadiens do? Turn the reins to Curtis Sanford? Robert Mayer, for God's sakes?

I'm too tired to go into this in great detail right now, but frankly even if I weren't I'm not sure I'd have much more to add. 

The move is, in a word, baffling.

16 comments:

MathMan said...

I really don't understand why so much is made about this move.

Desjardins is an undrafted goalie that was something like #4 on the depth chart. Ramo is younger and has NHL experience; yes, he has one more year to go in the KHL, but all indications are that his potential is higher than Desjardins. For what it's worth.

In all likelihood, neither play in the NHL in the future, And since cheap goaltending is becoming more and more plentiful, what's the impact? Heck, if Desjardins is European, this might not even rate a blip on the radar. This is a nothing move, really. Only in Montreal does the trade of a third- or fourth-string goaltender become front-page news... and create so many scandalized reactions.

Serious Fan said...

As someone who has seen Cedrick Desjardins play, I would not call him any kind of viable candidate to take up a spot on the Habs rostr. Desjardins is in his mid-20s and is still battling consistency and some notable flaws that prevent him from being considered a potential NHL goalie, including a terrible lack of ability to play the puck.

Robert Mayer, the goalie who will likely take over Desjardin's spot in Hamilton is 5 years younger than him and just got co-MVP honours in the ECHL Kelly Cup Championships in which he backstopped his team from an 0-3 series deficit in the Semifinals to the Cup itself. He's a more serious prospect at his age and it's not impossible to consider Mayer as a more likely future backup. It would not take a lot for Mayer to surpass Desjardins really.

I would guess that Ramo has been acquired as someone who will be outside the normal Montreal/Hamilton pipeline, developing his abilities in the KHL and possibly able to take over Alex Auld's duties in a year if they think he's a better candidate at the time. Desjardins was a maybe to ever play backup in the NHL, just as Ramo is but Ramo holds NHL experience, is a year younger and to be fair to Ramo, he was brought into the Tampa net at the same age as Price but as a 6th-round pick and in an organization taking a nosedive. Ramo did not have much support and his development was not managed well because of a lack of depth and a need for anyone to play in net.

kyleroussel said...

I'm utterly shocked at the waves this has sent through the Habs community.

What are we talking about here? Minor league goalies changing teams, and people are freaking out?

If Desjardins had the chops to make it with the Habs, he'd have posed a greater threat already.

Let's take a closer look at what Yzerman said about Desjardins:

"We are happy to be able to add Cedrick to the Lightning today," said Yzerman upon making the announcement. "With his American Hockey League experience, he will provide excellent goaltending depth for the organization, allowing us to be patient while Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus further mature and develop."

Reading between the lines, Yzerman sees Desjardins as nothing more than a mentor for his younger projects...it's quite possible that Desjardins is lower on the Lightning's depth chart than he was on the Habs depth chart.

This move could also be another signal to Price's camp that the road is clear for him and that the Habs have no intention of letting another young goalie encroach on his territory. This is another argument, but bemoaning the loss of Desjardins only makes me wonder one thing:

Is it October yet? Because it's clear Habs fans are dying for news worthy to get in a tizzy over.

This ain't that news.

Caolan said...

I think both comments are very fair. However, neither really address Mr Basu's main concern: why snuff/ship out the one shinning light in an already depleted depth chart considering that Price is unproven and Auld is... well, Auld. What if one or both get hurt?

The two comments make sense in terms of long term planning, but leave big question marks for the moment unless Gauthier has someone else in mind to fill that void.

saskhab said...

Desjardins was no better than Sanford, and over his final 30 games (20 regular season and 10 playoffs) had a pedestrian .902 SV%. He was a shining light? His hot start is what got him the All-Star nod in the AHL, his end is what lost him his job in Hamilton.

If Price falters or is injured, and Auld or Sanford can't step up, we probably are looking at a trade or signing of a more prominent goalie whether Desjardins was around or not.

James said...

If Price falters or is injured, and Auld or Sanford can't step up, we probably are looking at a trade or signing of a more prominent goalie whether Desjardins was around or not.
---------

That. Here are some UFA goalies that are out of work right now, and could be had for dirt cheap:
Theo
Toskala
Emery
Niemi (probably will sign but he's still unemployed)

Also, backup caliber goalies are easy to obtain through trades or even on waivers.

This really is a lot of noise and emotion about nothing.

pfhabs said...

@James:

-as cheap as those UFA goalies maybe the CH cannot afford them..with about $4 million in cap space and Carey to take around half of that the UFAs will not be signed for less than $2 assuming the CH want to leave a little for short term injury callups

-how do y'all like those singings from last July 09 now...just wonderful aren't they ! older, slower and soft D men at premium prices then add in one of the dumbest trades in CH history and you've killed any real chance at improvement from outside the organization. btw all scouted by none other than the current GM

-as for the current move of Cedric I find it hard to believe anyone outside the industry knows whether this deal was anything more than a 4th/5th string guy for a no string guy--yawn, yawn

-now if we could trade Gauthier, Martin & Pearn that would be something to talk about....maybe Stevie Y could use those current Habs

Arpon Basu said...

I was listening to the radio today and was appalled at how some callers to CKAC were equating this as another slap in the face to the Francophone population. That is blowing it out proportion. I am trying to do no such thing, and just hope I didn't add to that kind of hysteria. I just feel Desjardins is a better prospect than Ramo, though I admit not to be an expert on the subject. Also, Desjardins told CKAC today that he asked Canadiens management to give him some assurance he'd have a chance to play in the NHL soon, and if not to trade him. So there you go, maybe they shipped him out knowing Ramo would stay in Russia just so there would be no griping from Hamilton.

MathMan said...

Plus without an ECHL team they had 5 goalies in the system and only 4 spots to play them with especially now that Mayer is ready to cut his teeth at the AHL level. Ramo can play in the KHL, so that solves that problem. So see, there is a reason to do this.

But my original point I think is the most important: what are the odds that this deal meaningfully affects either NHL roster? I'd say pretty slim.

Yeah, the CKAC callers are crazy about Francophone content, but they tend to be the ones that follow that portion of the mainstream media that cover hockey on those terms, rather than, you know, covering hockey games. Montreal has a LOT of hockey coverage and punditry, the shame is that so little of it is actually about hockey.

pmk said...

so assuming price signs where do the habs finish? time for some predictions I think...

Jazz Man said...

I will make a few predictions, and invite all of you to have at me with rebuttals, etc.

Since I began seriously following the Habs in the early 1980's, I have often been too optimistic about their chances. I've become more realistic in the past ten years, especially after the terribly dark period of 1999-2001, but I still feel the optimism in the summer before a season begins. It is no different this year.

With a full season and 19 playoff games to get used to each other, I think the team will play more cohesively this year. Whether that will translate into more wins I don't know; that depends on a number of factors: Price finding his game (or not), injuries, whether Eller and Boyd will fit into Martin's system, whether they can survive Markov's early season absence, and guys like AK and Pouliot giving a consistent effort, to name just a few. One big factor that will determine their fate will be whether they can drastically improve their 5-on-5 play this year. It was very painful to watch the Habs brutally outplayed 5-on-5 during many games during the season and playoffs, giving up 40+ shots, no sustained forecheck, and looking completely lost a lot of the time. Hopefully the coaching staff will find a way to have them play much more solidly at even strength and limit the shots against to under 30 as much as possible. The Habs need to get tougher, too, so maybe a guy like Ian Schultz will be able to provide that.

I don't think any Habs will challenge for the major awards save Subban, who will be a Calder candidate, IMO. I do believe Plekanec will be a Selke candidate in the near future; his Crosby shutdown in the playoffs was masterful, he's great on the PK, and he can put up points. Finally, barring injury, I think either Cammalleri or Gionta will hit the 40-goal mark, and Gomez will reach 80 points.

If Price plays well, injuries are limited and they play better 5-on-5, I predict the Habs will make the playoffs, ending up somewhere in the bottom four.

Too optimistic? Maybe. But they couldn't possibly play worse 5-on-5 than they did last year, so I'm looking forward to a team that will be tougher to play against this year.

Looking forward to your opinions!

Hobie Hansen said...

The move might be a slightly strange one but it doesn’t bother me for obvious reasons. If the Habs reach a point in the season where Price is injured or has completely fallen apart, the season and their chance of making the playoffs are finished.
Price is the key factor to Montreal’s season and it’s a little troublesome that he still hasn’t signed a new contract!
I’m also worried, along with many people I’m sure, that Price might not settle in and play the star calibre hockey he showed he was capable of playing when he first entered the NHL. If things go sour and the Bell Centre crowd starts getting on him during the season, things could get ugly. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Price gets signed and plays like the goaltender we all think he is, otherwise we’re in big trouble.

pfhabs said...

@Jazz Man:

-interesting synopsis...here's what I see

1. a coach that while the more progressive teams/coaches are moving to a more attacking proactive aggressive style he is still a huge proponent of sit back, counter and defense first and foremost...this will cost guys like Cammalleri, Gionta, Markov and even Subban

2. they are weaker in goal. Auld, Sanford and all goalie prospects together are not Halak. if Carey gets injured they have no viable solid backup and are pooched. even if Carey plays to potential you cannot play him 55-60 games.

3. Gomez hasn't scored 80 points since 2005/06 and has had years of 60,70, 58 & 59 since then. not sure why the big spike is expected but I do not see it

4. they are terribly small at centre and small up front. AK and Pouliot are big bodies but play small and soft. Schultz is a CHL player and will not be in Montreal next year and anyone one else with size, with exception of Pacioretty, is a 3rd or 4th liner so no real beef up front on top 2 lines...playing third or fourth liners (eg Moen) on the top 2 lines is a temp. fix but they neither have skill nor speed to really be put in that unfair situation.

4. worst of all is the D...Markov is injured again, Subban is a rookie and between learning to be a 82+ game NHLer and the reins Pearn and co will attach to him you cannot reasonably expect a rookie to lead the defense. then you have Gill, Spacek and Hamrlik: slow, old and soft aka SOS. expecting 37 year olds to play the minutes of young bucks is foolish but it's what the brain trust of Martin and Pearn will do with inconsistent success

-I have not seen a dramatic improvement in personnel. chemistry aside which everyone points to as some sort of panacea they are still too small, got older and slower on D and have reduced their strength in goal.

-at best a bubble team (8-10) but with the improvements that have been made by the 2009/10 non-playoff teams in the East there is a real possibility this year that the CH will not be in a position to play the worst team in the league on the last game of the season and get an overtime loser point and squeak in by 1 point

-I think the 8th year of the current 5 year plan may thankfully be the end of Gauthier, Martin and Pearn...

pfhabs said...

@Jazz Man:

-interesting synopsis...here's what I see

1. a coach that while the more progressive teams/coaches are moving to a more attacking proactive aggressive style he is still a huge proponent of sit back, counter and defense first and foremost...this will cost guys like Cammalleri, Gionta, Markov and even Subban

2. they are weaker in goal. Auld, Sanford and all goalie prospects together are not Halak. if Carey gets injured they have no viable solid backup and are pooched. even if Carey plays to potential you cannot play him 55-60 games.

3. Gomez hasn't scored 80 points since 2005/06 and has had years of 60,70, 58 & 59 since then. not sure why the big spike is expected but I do not see it

4. they are terribly small at centre and small up front. AK and Pouliot are big bodies but play small and soft. Schultz is a CHL player and will not be in Montreal next year and anyone one else with size, with exception of Pacioretty, is a 3rd or 4th liner so no real beef up front on top 2 lines...playing third or fourth liners (eg Moen) on the top 2 lines is a temp. fix but they neither have skill nor speed to really be put in that unfair situation.

4. worst of all is the D...Markov is injured again, Subban is a rookie and between learning to be a 82+ game NHLer and the reins Pearn and co will attach to him you cannot reasonably expect a rookie to lead the defense. then you have Gill, Spacek and Hamrlik: slow, old and soft aka SOS. expecting 37 year olds to play the minutes of young bucks is foolish but it's what the brain trust of Martin and Pearn will do with inconsistent success

-I have not seen a dramatic improvement in personnel. chemistry aside which everyone points to as some sort of panacea they are still too small, got older and slower on D and have reduced their strength in goal.

-at best a bubble team (8-10) but with the improvements that have been made by the 2009/10 non-playoff teams in the East there is a real possibility this year that the CH will not be in a position to play the worst team in the league on the last game of the season and get an overtime loser point and squeak in by 1 point

-I think the 8th year of the current 5 year plan may thankfully be the end of Gauthier, Martin and Pearn...

Jazz Man said...

@ pfhabs

Good points...I'll add a few remarks:

- I really don't like Martin's passive sit back style either, and think the team would be much better served by playing a more aggressive attacking style (one of the reasons I would like to see Martin gone). His so-called system is the reason the Habs were so often dominated last year, because other teams found it so easy to break through. He will have to figure something out if his team is to play better at even strength. I do think, though, that Cammalleri and Gionta have enough talent to score 30+ goals despite Martin's passive system.

- The current goaltending situation is not as good as last year, and I am not at all happy with Auld as a backup. I should have added in my earlier post that, "if Price plays well AND the backup can be solid when called upon." That backup goalie could very well end up being Sanford, with Auld gone to Hamilton.

- Regarding Gomez: Gionta and Cammy missed 21 and 17 games respectively last season and that hurt his production (esp. Gionta's absence). If these three guys don't miss more than five games each, I can see Gomez hitting 70 points without a problem. Eighty would be a bonus.

- The size issue is an ongoing problem that Habs management has not been able to successfully address in a very long time. If Pacioretty can crack the lineup and add some real sand along with some scoring, that would fill a big need. A big if, I admit.

- I think Hammer and Spacek still have some gas left in the tank, and while they will be called upon to play more minutes than they should during Markov's absence, it will only be a temporary situation. O'Byrne should step up this year and take some of the burden off the older guys.

There are many 'ifs' involved in the Habs making the playoffs next year, and while I think they will do it, it won't be easy. The key ingredients: (1) sharper, more aggressive 5-on-5 play (which would benefit Price immensely and help them win more games in regulation time), (2) Price playing to somewhere near potential with a reliable backup and (3) the team staying healthy.

I'm probably asking too much, but I really don't want to watch another season like the last one where they were dominated so frequently.

baruch said...

What bothers me is that Markov doesn't like Price, so he may be the next to go.