Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Shane Doan won't come, Andrei might, Max and DD will stay

So many topics:

1) Shane Doan won't be a Canadien.  He'll be the 'missing piece' who puts a contender over the top, for which that contender will be glad to overpay and give term to an over-35 player.  We're not in a position where overpaying for Shane Doan is good strategy.

More importantly, Shane Doan probably can't see himself being a Canadien.  Leaving aside the lawsuit against Denis Coderre, he's not about to go to a bottom of the standings team in a city with poor weather and high taxes after years of playing in Phoenix.

2) Although I've been critical of Andrei Kostitsyn's play and lack of hockey sense in my game recaps last season, and just in general, I'm not against the idea of bringing him back.  The frame of reference has shifted.  Last year we were worried about having to compete on the UFA market and being forced to offer a five year $25M contract, that seemed to be where Andrei was headed in the current NHL salary madness, if he just puttered along and scored 25 goals in his contract year.

Well, that fear has been allayed.  We can now hire Andrei on the cheap, paying him at most $2M for the season, to plug the big hole at left wing beside Lars Eller on the third line, maybe we can recapture the AK-Eller-Moen magic of last season.  We'd be a stronger roster if we went that way.  Andrei can be a placeholder for a season, allows another youngster the chance to work on his game in Hamilton, and offers us a better chance to ice a decent team.  There's always the chance that the additional boots to the head of being traded, being vilified as an unmotivated and brain-dead lush in Nashville, not being re-signed, and then left to wither on the vine past July 1 may force reality to sink in through his thick, thick skull and he now has half a clue.  Maybe he comes back with a touch more determination and something to prove.  Heck, maybe halfway through the season we start thinking about extending him, if he's showing us something.

Of course, there is the strong probability that Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot Arizona strip-club pole, that they feel his presence in the dressing room and around the team is a negative influence that outweighs anything positive he episodically brings on the ice, and that the style he plays will not work in the new system they are trying to install.  Maybe they think that they'd rather spend those minutes on a youngster learning his craft in the NHL, at the cost of a few losses, in what they may have already decided is a 'development' season.  And that's why they're the bosses and this is just my opinion.

And which brings us to....

3)  Our highest-paid player will not be on the roster next season.  No way nohow.  The team will want a clean break from the past in this regard.  He has played himself off the roster by going a calendar year without scoring a goal.  His career arc is plain to see, the numbers are plummeting, and there is no chance that he'll regain his form when the trend is toward the brutish hockey exemplified by the Bruins and Kings, and championed by Mike Milbury and Don Cherry.  There is no need to scout him or to adopt a wait and see attitude, the results are in.  We'll give his minutes to an industrious Petteri Nokelainen, who'll scratch and claw and chip in five goals, or an improving, underestimated Ryan White, who'll chip in ten or fifteen.  Maybe a Louis Leblanc or Blake Geoffrion now gets a regular shift in the NHL, instead of pressbox duty and fourth-line duty.  We are a better team without our dressing room jokester.

4)  Next summer will be interesting when it comes to the roster and signing players.  As I've pointed out before and was mentioned today by another poster, we have to re-sign Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais, and both will receive big raises.  Meanwhile, no big contracts are expiring, only in 2014 are Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov and Tomas Kaberle coming off the books.  So I'm sure that will enter the discussion in the boardroom when the braintrust is discussing whether to sign a Shane Doan and Alex Semin.

Pierre Gauthier said before, especially when challenged about taking on Tomas Kaberle's contract, that cap space wasn't really an issue, that you can always create cap space.  In the Canadiens' case, with big contracts attached to underperforming players, often with No Trade Clauses, I'm not sure how true that statement is.  The Blackhawks showed that you can create cap space, but at the cost of stripping your roster of valuable pieces like Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Brian Campbell for not much in return.

I think we should consider Max and David before we enter long term deals for aging veterans.

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