Fantasy GM, part 2
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?