Fantasy GM, part 2

The writing was on the wall once Rivet was dealt. The most probable scenario will see Gainey gun for Souray. If you're listening to what the pundits say, that will probably mean breaking the Koivu cap. Say Souray signs for $5M, which is the low end of what people are saying he'll get:

Now we're at $41.5M, leaving $3.5M to spend on two remaining spots. Those spots are the ones currently occupied by Radek Bonk and Mike Johnson, who bring down a combined total of $4.2M. This is not good.

Unless Bob Gainey has some pleasant tricks up his sleeve, we're looking at essentially the same team as we have this year. Two veterans (Rivet and Abby) are replaced by two minimum wage earners and $3.5M in cap space instead of the two most reliable forwards (Bonk & Johnson). That's not exactly a formula for success. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So let's try something different.

First off: let Souray walk. In Hockey Pools 101 they teach you not to buy a guy after a career year. By all means, get involved in the bidding to drive up the price, but do not buy. And another thing: would you pay $5M for a 30-goal right wing PP specialist? Then why pay that much for a 30-goal PP specialist d-man? Those goals can be replaced much more inexpensively by addressing the team's needs up front.

Second: Pull a Lamoreillo and treat the Hamilton Bulldogs crowd to the Sergei Samsonov show. Admit the mistake and don't send good money after bad. The Montreal Canadiens are a profitable enough organization to afford this.

Third: As soon as July 1 rolls around send Saku to Kimmo Timonen's house with a Texas mickey of Finlandia and instructions to reminisce about their exploits while playing together on their national team. They were on the same WJC team in 93 and 94, TPS Turku in 94-95, World Cups in 96 and 04, World Championships in 99 and 03, and the Olympics in 98 and 06. There is no doubt in my mind that Timonen is a more valuable all-around player than Souray, and he will come a lot cheaper. His numbers are a little better than Markov's, but he's also a little older. A contract similar to Markov's seems reasonable. If Timonen doesn't bite, the backup plan is Sami Salo.

There! That leaves $8M in cap space for three forwards.

Now we have options. Gainey could go for strength down the middle by landing a star centre. This would be a great environment to ease kids into the lineup:

Alternatively, players like Bonk and Johnson seem to be undervalued. That makes them wise choices in the FA market. Getting them signed for small raises would allow the space to go toward some help on Koivu's wing:

Or we could try to nab the 'Next Radek Bonk,' aka Patrick Stefan. He comes with the added advantage of having an Embarrassing Youtube Discount. That would clear enough space for some serious help for Koivu:

Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

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Blogger Rand said...

I suspect the dream is Markov at 4.2M, I know you used Kaberle as justification of that but Kaberle's type isn't exactly coming at 4.25M with any consistency. D-Man far his inferior are getting more money then that and much lesser type roughly comparable.

Souray alone will almost certainly hit above 4.2M, and Markov may well prove more costly then he unless he takes a home town discount.

My bet is Kaberle and his agent badly misjudged what D-Man would go for on the open market... his past history in contract negotiations weren't exactly that of a guy liable to take less for the team. No one's likely to be misjudging the market so badly this time around.

Sadly it seems likely Montreal may have to overpay to bring in a decent D-Man, for whatever reason be it language fan pressure or whatever else it hasn't exactly been regarded as a particularly desirable place to play by NHL UFA in the last decade or so.

3/06/2007 11:33 PM  
Blogger Jeff J said...

Pretty much all the big UFA signings I offered (Drury, Kariya, Smyth) would suggest I'm living in a dream world. Or smoking some fine ganja. Like you said, guys of that calibre don't come to Montreal anymore. Plus, Samsonov isn't going to disappear.

I thought $4.2M was overpaying Markov. I also have a habit of grossly underestimating these things.

3/07/2007 9:28 AM  
Anonymous kazmojo said...

I think Rand hit it on the head with his last comment. And the biggest reason is the media, maybe specifically the French media. Some of them crucified Gainey for not making the huge move for instant playoff gratification -- which would probably mean a first round loss even if they got there. And even more recently, the whole Kovalev imbroglio.

Of course, Jeff, you had a post on this very subject earlier. Nothing new to you.

Hopefully the Habs would be able to sign at least their desirable UFA's, starting with Markov. Maybe Johnson too.

But Souray should definitely go. If not for his suspiciously timed career year, then for his continued defensive liabilities. Plus, as has been well-rumoured, he's probably going to LA or Anaheim anyway. Imagine Souray with Niedermayer, Pronger and Beauchemin. Yikes!

Bonk might fit in the same category as Souray, ie, why the sudden leap in performance now? We all remember a certain Vezina/Hart winner tanking it after a huge year and subsequent huge contract. I don't know if it's possible, but maybe an incentive-laden offer could be made? Bonk has been pretty damn effective this year, and if money is what makes him work, then maybe Bob can work it in.

If Souray is gone though, that still leaves a hole that Gorges can't fill. In one of your past posts, Jeff, you sang the (relative) praises of the existing defense. So why not try to bring back Rivet? A right handed shot would rebalance their defense, and he's been pretty good with SJ so far -- suggesting that maybe his troubles with MTL were with the team as a whole?

His family is still in Montreal, although he's probably loving the weather and lack of media scrutiny in SJ. You should see the joke of a columnist they have covering the Sharks here.

Assuming that can be done, then spend like crazy on the offensive voids. Sign Markov, Rivet, Bonk and Johnson -- and then Bill Guerin or some other right-handed power forward? You'll probably have to overspend anyway to get anyone to come to Montreal, so the money saved by signing Rivet instead of some other high-priced dman would come in handy.

3/07/2007 2:07 PM  

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