Friday, 6 July 2012

Jeff Finger or Kurt Sauer? Ryan McDonagh or David Fischer? Lars Eller or?

Have you ever heard the story that the Leafs thought Jeff Finger was someone else, namely Kurt Sauer, when they signed him to that contract? I don’t remember the exact story, but I think it goes that in the July 1 panic, they offered him the money they were prepared to offer another, better player?
Then there's the urban legend that Bob Gainey, when asked by Glen Sather for the privilege of taking Scott Gomez and his ludicrous contract off his hands to ship him Ryan McDonagh, he must have thought he was David Fischer when he said yes.  After all, both were Minnesota-born stay-at-home type defenceman picked in the first round by the Canadiens, with Mr. Fisher going 20th overall in 2006, and Ryan McDonagh going 12th overall in 2007.
In the great number of analyses I’ve read about that trade, I think I remember that when Glen Sather asked for Ryan McDonaugh, Bob Gainey asked Pierre Gauthier about him, and Mr. Gauthier flew out to see him play a game at Wisconsin, and he obviously came back with a report that greenlit the deal.
Meanwhile Trevor Timmins was advocating against it, and part of his reasoning would have been Mr. McDonagh’s performance at the Draft Combine, which the Rangers’ scouts never forgot, and described him as being a ‘man among boys’, so big and strong and dominant was he.
So I’m not sure if there was a mixup between David Fischer and Ryan McDonagh, never read anything of the sort, but it’s possible that the organizational perception of one player bled onto the other, since both weren’t seen as Paul Coffeys but more like Craig Ludwigs, and thus interchangeable and replaceable. Of course, Mr. McDonagh’s skillset is exactly the type that we’re lacking right now, he is the guy that we don’t have, a big, tough and strong defenceman who plays well in his own zone and can get the puck out with a good clearing pass, while we have too many of the smaller skilled puck handlers. 
If Glen Sather had insisted on Yannick Weber, we wouldn’t be in this mess.  We'd still have Andrei Markov, Raphaël Diaz, Tomas Kaberle.  Hell, we might not have traded for Tomas Kaberle if we had had Ryan McDonagh, we might have thought that we had enough talent on the blue line to make do in Andrei Markov's absence.
Anyway, with these tales of mistaken identity in mind, is there any chance Lars’ agent Kevin Epp, with too many clients to juggle and too many contract offers jamming his fax machine, thought he was accepting the Canadiens’ initial lowball offer as a good offer for someone else?
Looking at CapGeek, Lars is not doing horribly, just that he’ll be making Louis Leblanc-Peter Budaj money. Once you’re hovering around 1 million, I would think you could talk the Canadiens in tacking on a couple hundred grand for a guy who’s a former first-rounder and about to start his third full NHL season.
Maybe Travis Moen doesn’t feel so bad now. Sure Brandon Prust is making way more than he is, but he can always look to Lars for a more favourable comparison.
So, glad to have Lars signed for a couple of seasons, and I hope he's motivated to earn a blockbuster deal two years from now, and that he'll be worth every penny of it.

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