Habs Hallo-WIN

Puns rock.

Last night, a trick-or-treater dressed as a witch stepped out of the shadows and onto our doorstep carrying a Montreal Canadiens pillowcase. I offered the mysterious stranger double treats if she would cast a hex on the Ottawa Senators. She obliged. The result: 4-2 Habs.

If you missed the game, the score is quite misleading. It was actually a 2-1 game with three Bettman-mandated extra goals in the dying moments to give the illusion of a higher-scoring contest.

Radek Bonk deserves props. Aside from the brief cranial paralysis for the Sens' first goal, his line did a hell of a job smothering Spezza/Heatley. Under yet another coach (the third he has seen with the Habs), he keeps getting big defensive minutes. The Bonk-Johnson tandem has been a solid plus producer - they are both on pace for a +37 season.

Once you get past your preconceived notions that he should score more because of his high draft position, you discover that he's a pretty good player.

Johnson has put up 7 points and a +5 in 11 games in a checking/PK role. Jan Bulis has 6 points and a +1 in 13 games in a scoring/PP role with the Canucks.


Over at Tom Benjamin's the comments are always a great read.

This one by 'cambo' really got my goat:

"Fans are sheep who thrive on the manure the media feeds them about "greedy players." Even in a city like Edmonton, where the former owner sold Gretzky and broke up the dynasty, fan support during the recent labor strife was 100% behind ownership. Not one of those idjit fans, I guarantee, was told at 18 where he MUST move to ply his trade and that he wouldn't have a choice in the matter until at least the age of 25."
It's not an original remark. This hardcore libertarian attitude was prominent during Prongergate, too.

So, "how dare they dictate where a guy plays from the age of 18 to 25?"

Answer: they don't.

The workplace restrictions apply to NHL draftees who choose to play in the NHL. The players have a choice. Any draftee can eschew the chance to play in the NHL and take up welding or computer programming if they like. Or even go play in another league.

The NHL sells competition. For it to be competitive, it must have some restrictions on player movement. If it's a pure free market, it's going to look like most beer leagues where a good chunk of the best players gather on one team. In a pure free market, why would a star choose a city with higher taxes (like Montreal)? Or an obtrusive media (like Montreal)? Or to a team that sucks (like... Phoenix)?

In the same discussion, this question is posed:

"How do the Pens cope with Crosby/Malkin/J. Staal/Fleury?"

Answer: they don't.

The salary cap prevents anyone from amassing a dominating collection of talent. The best you can do is assemble a pretty good contender. If the math prevents you from having a great, 130-point team for a handful of seasons, the wise move would be to shuffle your assets so you have a 100-point team for a decade. The Pens would be wise to move some of that potential greatness for some long-term goodness before they inevitably lose it to free agency.

There will always be a trading partner willing to give up future for present. In the old paradigm it was the bad, rebuilding teams who traded for the future. Now, the very good teams with more assets than cap space should trade for the future too.


Blogger The Puck Stops Here said...

How do you picture a team with more assets then cap space making a good trade? I picture a situation like Ottawa trading Havlat to Chicago for Tom Preissing. How would Ottawa make that move for the future and have it actually pay off?

11/01/2006 7:53 p.m.  
Anonymous Tom Benjamin said...

Greg's right. There is no good trade available to a team like Pittsburgh.

They are trading the young player bcause he is going to be too expensive. What kind of asset can they get back? A good veteran carries a contract that is every bit as expensive as the asset going out.

11/02/2006 12:32 p.m.  
Blogger Jeff J said...

Ottawa traded:
- an unsigned Havlat with one remaining UFA year
- one year of Smolinski at a $1.8M cap hit

to Chicago for:
- Josh Hennessy and Michael Barinka, who are now #3 and #6 on HF's list of Ottawa's prospects
- one year of Preissing for a $550k cap hit
- a 2nd round pick

So the Sens got three 2nd round calibre assets for the future, unloaded an overpaid player, and got a year of Preissing who is earning about one fifth of what a similar defenseman would have cost. All in return for what would have been one expensive year of Havlat.

Pittsburgh may be in a tough cap spot by the time J. Staal is 22. It all depends the market, but I would think three RFA years of J. Staal (should he develop into a star) would fetch quite a bit.

"What kind of asset can they get back? A good veteran carries a contract that is every bit as expensive as the asset going out."

That's my whole point - trade a current valuable but expensive asset for future assets that don't eat up today's cap space. Prospects and picks. Defer the cap hit.

If a trade deadline rental of Doug Weight was worth a 1st round pick, what kind of futures would a star in his early 20's (think Eric Stall) fetch right now? That kind of deal is unheard of.

11/02/2006 1:49 p.m.  
Blogger Achtungbaby said...

My money says that Pittsburgh trades one Staal, Crosby and Malkin before they hit 25 for help in other areas of their club or more prospects. They'll simply be too expensive to keep.

We've all seen the Tampa Bay experiment and how it's working out for them.

PS. I moved gunnerswebblog to http://8feet.ca Please update your link to me. Thanks.

11/02/2006 3:02 p.m.  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Good post Jeff and congrats on your marriage.

11/02/2006 9:40 p.m.  

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