Sophie's Gainey's Choice

Which pending UFA does Bob Gainey keep: Andrei Markov or Sheldon Souray?

It's not quite as heart-wrenching as Muckler's Chara/Redden dilemma, but it's a tough decision nonetheless. Complicating matters is heart&soul guy Craig Rivet will also be a UFA come season's end.

Sheldon says Markov should be the top priority. I like the way the big guy thinks. Souray is arguably the most entertaining individual on the team. His strengths are his huge shot and sledgehammer fists. One would expect a player this noticeable to catch the eye of GMs like Doug MacLean, which would drive up his pricetag. Markov on the other hand plays a more passive, less spectacular, and less expensive game. For some insight regarding which type of player is more effective in the salary cap era, take a look at the Buffalo Sabres.

To get a feel for what this trio of defensemen cost to sign, I've made a quick & dirty list of somewhat comparable players who recently signed contracts/extensions. Players in Canadian cities are probably more valid comparisons, since they are paying similar taxes.

Souray comparables, from low-end to high-end:

Joe Corvo - 4 yr, $2.625M per year
Philippe Boucher - 3 years, $2.5M
Jaroslav Spacek - 3 years, $3.3M
Adrian Aucoin - 4 years, $4M
Pavel Kubina - 4 years, $5M

A complicating factor is Souray's huge season currently underway. If he maintains his current pace, he's looking at >$5M. Aucoin is an interesting case. He developed from a one dimensional player - a guy with a great shot - into a renowned workhorse. Remember Aucoin's 98-99 season in Vancouver? 23 goals, 11 assists in 82 games. Souray was never this one-dimensional. He could always fight, too. He may yet turn into a solid defender, but I'm not holding my breath.

Markov comparables:

Mike Van Ryn - 4 years, $2.9M per year
Filip Kuba - 3 years, $3M
Marek Zidlicky - 4 years, $3.35M
Tomas Kaberle - 5 years, $4.25M

Defensemen with Markov's combination of age, experience and numbers are rare. Kaberle has accomplished a bit more, and should provide a ceiling. I'd love to see this guy signed long term. Git 'r' done, Bob!

Rivet Comparables:

Hal Gill - 3 years, $2.075M per
Steve Staios - 4 years, $2.7M
Aaron Ward - 2 years, $2.75M

Another good comp might be Chris Phillips, who will also be eligible for UFA. Rivet is currently making $2.5M. It can be insulting to ask a guy to take a pay cut, so I can't see him taking less than that. He may be popular, but if you're being objective you have to admit that Rivet is an average player. You can't win in a capped environment paying above average salaries to average players. If he is signed, let's hope for a hometown discount.


From Sabermetric Research:

"The teams owned by institutions or corporations made 12.5% (Leafs), 5.8% (Rangers), 0.3% (Flyers), and 7.6% (Canadiens)."

Yes, the Leafs are making more than the Canadiens. Drycleaning all those Stanley Cup banners really cuts into the profits.


Blogger Doogie said...

I'd think McCabe would be a natural high-salary comp for Souray. Granted, I don't see as much of the East as I'd like, but it seems they both have similar strengths and weaknesses, from what I can recall, though McCabe doesn't drop the gloves, really.

11/28/2006 7:02 p.m.  
Anonymous Ben said...

Habs can re-sign the three guys. Niinimaa out would gives 2,5 M$ + Aebeisher out gives 1,9 M$ to the Habs, for a 4.3 $M total for Markov-Sourray-Rivet.

Markov should be sign for 4$M to 4,5 $M

Sourray must be sign for around 4 $M and Rivet maybe a little bit more than now....

11/28/2006 11:29 p.m.  
Blogger Jeff J said...

I hadn't considered McCabe because of the huge difference in experience and career numbers. Turns out McCabe is only a year older than Souray, but then Souray has been a bit of a late bloomer. For the record, McCabe's deal was done in 2005 and was $5 per year for five years. He'd probably get more today.

ben - 1) Even if Gainey could make room (remember Higgins will be up for a raise, and Bonk & Johnson are UFA too), I'm not sure it would be in the team's best interest to keep all three. 2) I agree that Markov might be worth $4M to $4.5M, but I also think he is signable for less. It's hard for his agent to argue that he should be earning close to what T. Kaberle makes.

11/29/2006 8:30 a.m.  
Blogger Jeff J said...

"...McCabe's deal was done in 2005 and was $5 per year for five years. He'd probably get more today."

That should read $5.75M per year.

11/29/2006 9:00 a.m.  
Anonymous kazmojo said...

I wish we could keep all three as well, but not only will the cap get in the way but so will Souray's wishes. His comments in the Gazette really sound like a guy who is ready to go. It's not that he's unhappy in Montreal. I just think he's a realist, and perhaps he wants to be closer to his daughter in SoCal (as has been rumoured).

Gotta keep Rivet. He's one of those team first kinda guys, the guys you want in your locker room -- much like Souray. You see Rivet and Souray at the end of each win congratulating the others as they pile into the dressing room, and then heading in last. It's no mistake they're the alternate captains. Rivet has less offensive talent than Souray, but is less prone to the defensive blunder too.

Markov is clearly the most valuable of the three. If he had Souray's cannon shot, he could be a true #1. As it is, his ice vision is exceptional, and he rarely makes a defensive mistake. Gotta keep him too.

11/29/2006 1:24 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like all three players, but if we have to lose one, I'd lose Rivet to keep Markov and Souray. All you have to do is look at Montreal's points leaders this year, and you can see that they have A LOT to do with our success.

11/29/2006 1:28 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why everyone's assuming Souray's comments in the last Gazette article mean he's ready to go... Sure, he said it's a business, but he also said that he knows the grass isn't always greener elsewhere... he even suggested he might take a little less to stay in montreal then he'd get elsewhere.

11/29/2006 1:30 p.m.  

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