Lots of talk on social media over the last few weeks on the merits of the Canadiens potentially signing unrestricted free agent Ryan O'Byrne. Lots of objections are raised, that he's too slow, he's not that good, or not as tough as his size would appear to indicate. Which to me are all valid in some way, but miss the essential point that he's not being considered for first pairing duty, but more like a #6 or #7 defenceman. We're not signing him thinking he's Shea Weber.
I have been in favour of this move, since he just checks off a lot of the needs on our list:
1) Big ✔
2) Shoots right ✔
3) Available for free (UFA) ✔
4) Cheap, easy on the cap (desperate, would sign for one year) ✔
5) Allows us to keep a kid in Hamilton ✔
6) Competent NHL'er, will do the job on the 3rd pair ✔
With him on the roster, we'd have Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon and Davis Drewiske on the left, P.K., Raphaël Diaz and Ryan O'Byrne on the right side to start camp.
(inj.) Alexei Emelin
Callups: Tinordi, Beaulieu, Pateryn, Nygren
When Alexei returns, and if Jarred is showing he's ready in Hamilton, at the end of the season our blue line could look like this:
Spares: Cube, O'Byrne
If it's impossible to keep Jarred Tinordi off the Canadiens roster at the end of camp, since he's that good and completely ready, then he stays up and we make a decision, someone has to be dealt. But if not, this would allow us to not rush him or Nathan Beaulieu, to let them get another solid season in the AHL , or at least the start of one, and be called up when injuries strike. We'd have a balanced slate of d-men we could ice, and Mr. Drewiske to do spot duty when necessary.
To me, absent any character or other concerns Marc Bergevin might have, signing Ryan O'Byrne to a one-year contract is a no-brainer. It fits our roster needs, and allows us to tread water until the kids are ready and Alexei is rehabbed and ready to go.
The kicker would be that we'd have Ryan O'Byrne, and Michaël Bournival. Since we agonize so frequently on our recent poor asset management, it would be a happy change that the guy we got in a trade is progressing in an encouraging manner, plus the player we sacrificed in exchange back in the fold, at no cost to us. Not quite payback for Janne Niinimaa, but a good start.