The Canadiens announced today that they had signed left winger Blake Geoffrion to a one year, $800 000 contract. This is a bargain basement deal, and I guess Mr. Geoffrion and his agent thought that they could greatly improve his bargaining position with a strong showing next season, and preferred a shorter term. Let's hope he's focused on training like a madman this summer, to become the type of player his Hobie Baker Award and bloodlines suggest he can become. The team is devoid of depth at the left wing slot, so retaining his services was a no-brainer.
The thing about Blake Geoffrion is his skating needs a lot of work before he’s a true NHL caliber player. I’m not the best judge of these things, but in some games on the plasma last season his skating stood out he was so slow, and I usually only notice for guys like Hal Gill and Derek Boogaard. I see prospect reports say he's a good skater and has good mobility, but when I saw him play he was chugging like Ryan Walter or Stan Smyl. Nothing against those two stalwarts, but they were the slowest guys in the NHL when active, and had to bring a lot of other qualities to become the quality NHL'ers they were. Unless you can snipe goals like Luc Robitaille, especially these days, you need to be able to skate.
Another consideration is that once he’s played three more NHL games it will make him waiver eligible. The Canadiens don't have a lot of flexibility in terms of calling him up. If they do play him for three games, they can't send him back down without risking losing him, so they may not take the chance unless he plays lights out for half the season and/or they are ravaged with injuries and have no other options.
A lengthy lockout only strengthens the likelihood of his spending a full season on the farm. A factor to consider is that all AHL teams will be stronger with a lockout, with the NHL sending down their young prospects that might normally make the big league, so the competition should be even fiercer than usual, and Hamilton will be a great proving ground for him and the other young Canadiens.
So with these things in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was kept in Hamilton all of next season, to work on his skating, his game, get tonnes of minutes in all situations, provide some ‘veteran’ presence for the AHL newbies, maybe develop a rapport with likely future Glorieux like Louis Leblanc and Brendan Gallagher like David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty did. He can try to lead a young but talented Bulldogs squad deep in the Calder Cup playoffs, valuable experience for a player, as we remember when the Sherbrooke Canadiens won the Calder Cup and in the next couple of seasons sent players to Montréal who were instantly effective.
2013-14 would be his chance to make the team, when he can see if he can wrest a roster spot away from Petteri Nokelainen and/or Colby Armstrong. If he can't, the Canadiens can re-evaluate his future with the team then.