Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Thoughts on free agency: Canadiens add Gilbert, Weaver, Malhotra.

Great, I get home, and my PVR somehow didn't record the first 30 minutes of the free agency coverage on TSN.  Remarkably unreliable piece of machinery, considering I invested $100.

--Manny Malhotra signed early by the Habs, will replace Ryan White, a more effective player, comes cheaply, but he's not able to bring toughness, and he's a leftie.

All our centremen are now leftie, with Daniel Brière and Whitey gone.

George Parros will definitely be replaced now, I would wager.

--Is it foreshadowing that Benoit Pouliot is only coming through intermittently on his phone interview with James Duthie? He’s there, but he fades away, then he’s back, then he cuts out again…

--Holy crap, Josh Gorges to Buffalo? I can’t believe we get anything back from the Sabres, this will be a salary dump right?

Turns out it's a 2nd round pick, from Buffalo that's like a high first-rounder.

Sabres get to cap floor, take on leadership and experience, leave Nikita Zadorov and Rasmus Ristolainen in the minors to work on their game instead of being rushed.

Gives us more room to act, with Dan Boyle for example.

Aggressive move by Marc Bergevin.  Fortune favours the bold.

--Tom Gilbert signed by the Habs, takes care of the right side of the blue line, departure of Mike Weaver.  It's an upgrade.

Were the Canadiens after Tom Gilbert at the deadline last season when they got Mike Weaver from the Panthers instead? 

Wanted a rightie, settled for the lesser-valued player, then scooped up the original guy they wanted as a UFA this summer?

--Who the heck is Jiri Sekac?

Apparently, we won the "Jiri Sekac sweepstakes..."

Listed as a 6'2", 185 lbs left winger, 11 G, 28 Pts in 48 games played.  22 years old.  Wonder how he'll like Hamilton?  Let's put him in touch with Magnus Nygren.

--Tom Gilbert AND Mike Weaver now, on a one-year deal? We’re set on the right side of the defence.

I guess Greg Pateryn and Magnus Nygren need to bring their ‘A’ game at camp, they’re not waltzing into a job. They’ll need to win the job outright, and then Marc Bergevin will make room for them, as he likes to explain is his philosophy.

--Mike Weaver signs for a cheap one year deal, found that the grass wasn’t greener?  Or the Canadiens told him initially they wanted to see about Dan Boyle, and when the Rangers signed him, then quickly made the deal?

Very tradeable acquisitions if need be, once injuries start hitting other teams around the league, they'd take Messrs. Gilbert or Weaver on reasonable, short deals.

--Canadiens Montréal ✔ @CanadiensMTL

Canadiens sign forward Jeremy Gregoire to a three-year contract.

Good news, another small step forward.  Great pick by Trevor Timmins.

--Ryan Miller signing in Vancouver means one fewer landing spots for our mega-goalie-tradepieces, Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski.

--Josh Gorges sounding resigned to his fate on the phone with James Duthie.  He admits that the idea of playing with Leafs against the Canadiens was too much for him to stomach, at least initially.

--And now Brian Gionta goes to the Sabres as well, they've raided our leadership corps.  For Gio, it's a move closer to home in Rochester, NY.  He gets a big 3 year, $4.25M per season contract, too rich for our blood.

--Jonas Hiller to the Flames.  There go the Dustin Tokarski for Curtis Glencross rumours...    

--Is Pierre McGuire tooting his own horn more after another aborted GM interview?  After the Habs interview process for which he wasn't ultimately successful, he was circumspect.  Now, he tosses that off lightly, about how if I'd been "working somewhere else, Jonas Hiller would have been..."

--Thomas Vanek for three years in Minnesota.  We never had a chance?  Did Gord Miller say he has a "fellatial home" in Minny?

--Matt Moulson from the Isles to Buffalo, then to Minnesota, back to Buffalo, in the space of one season.  Gets more term than Thomas Vanek.  

Tim Murray has a 20 million gap to the cap floor burning a hole in his pocket.  

It's hard to tank a season these days.

--Really happy with the moves by the Canadiens brain trust so far. Sensible moves, patching holes, upgrading the mix.

All reasonable, short-term deals. Glad we’re not in the Matty Niskanen market, with the five-year deal and huge money for a guy who had a good year playing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Surprised that they added two RD’s, but I guess they didn’t want to hand a job over to Greg Pateryn and Magnus Nygren sight unseen.

All I want now is a huge enforcer, a Steve MacIntyre type.

--Ah!  The Leafs waste 4 years, $12M on Leo Komarov.  These guys are in the running for Connor McDavid next June.

--It's official, the Tampa Bay Lightning will crater next season, since Pierre McGuire just touted them as the power team to watch.

Their contract for Anton Stralman, who was on waivers not too long ago, 5 years for $20M, will be their version of what the Josh Gorges deal was for us.  Glad we get both Messrs. Gilbert and Weaver for that same yearly amount, and shorter term.

--Great sequence of tweets out of Vancouver.  

I'm so happy to join the . What a great day! They keep telling me it's always this sunny here.

Hey I'm open for dinner:)

--Marc Bergevin in his presser, says that they felt it was time to give more responsibility to their young leaders, which explains partly the departure of Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges.

Mentions the two young lefties on D (Jarred and Nathan) as a factor.

Says they're losing great people, it's a tough decision, not popular, but need to improve the team.

About Jiri Sekac, feels they took a chance on a young player with lots of talent who can play Top 9.  Scouted him extensively in Europe.

About P.A. Parenteau, responds that he’s not necessarily a replacement for Thomas Vanek, but more a player who can play Top 9. Mentions that he’s a right shot.

Says there's a specific role for Manny Malhotra on the team, a better fit (probably referring to Daniel Brière and Ryan White at centre on the fourth line).

Defends his decisions as not strictly salary-cap motivated, but also "hockey decisions", and mentions the faceoff percentage of Manny Malhotra, the righties on the blue line, the Top 9 forward.

Disappointed that the news on Josh leaked, guarantees it didn't come from his organization, hated the mess it created, repeated that Josh is a great person.

He hasn't closed the door on Francis Bouillon returning, reaffirms his respect for the person he is and the player.  Says he's still listening to a lot of offers.

About possibly having to respond to an offer sheet for P.K., he says he's not necessarily worried, but that the team is in good shape if that happens.

Says if he had an idea about the next captain, he wouldn't tell anyone, and it's too early for those decisions.  When asked if there will be a player vote or appointment by management, he says they'll keep that in-house.

He has set no internal deadline to sign P.K. Subban.

About Dustin Tokarski, he says they're aware of the waivers situation, they're taking it into account.

Repeats that young players will come to camp, and they'll make decisions based on that.

About Ryan White, thinks a change of scenery might help him, appreciates what he's done, but they made the decision to go with Manny Malhotra.  A telling line: "Sometimes a student needs a new teacher..."

--Just an example of the Two Solitudes, a lot of the analysts on RDS, and many who are commenting on social media, feel that the Canadiens didn't improve today.  I'm not sure what their expectations were, maybe they thought we had to replace Thomas Vanek and go from there.

My expectations didn't include Thomas Vanek, just the roster we had at the start of last season.  While we lost some leadership and experience, some scoring, with Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges and Daniel Brière leaving, I feel that the team is more balanced on the blue line, will be more effective without having to force Jarred Tinordi or Alexei Emelin on to the right side.  I'm not as pessimistic about P.A. Parenteau.  I think he can be an effective Top 6 winger, and he'll play up to the circumstances.

We still need to address the toughness we lost with George Parros (the incarnation at the start of the season, before Colton Orr's dirty takedown), Douglas Murray and Ryan White.  I suspect Marc Bergevin isn't in a hurry, he'll let the market settle down and go bargain-hunting.

We're not going to find a scoring winger easily, just like the Leafs may be in a bind trying to find their big #1 centre.  We'll have to go into next season with an imperfect team, but one that's much stronger than two or three years ago.

--Darren Dreger just let it slip that the rumoured player to come from Toronto in the Josh Gorges deal that fell through was in fact Cody Franson.

Big, young, right-handed defenceman, some offensive skill, he’d have checked a lot of boxes for us.  One consideration is that his qualifying offer was $2M, so he’d be seeking more. The money on his deal wouldn’t have been much lower than the veteran Gilbert’s deal.

Glad Marc Bergevin was able to get a comparable player in Tom Gilbert, for free as a UFA, and get an extra 2nd rounder from Buffalo. That’s pretty much an even-steven deal, and we don’t have to barf seeing Josh in that putrid blue sweater.

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