Saturday, 1 July 2017

A Canadiens fan's view of the July 1 Free Agent 'Frenzy'

At the tail end of this season some posters on social media were all tangled up in blue, and would state that not only were they downcast about the season that just ended, but were already depressed about the one to come, how there wasn’t much to look forward to, there wasn’t really a hotshot rookie on the farm who’d change our outlook or a high draft choice on the horizon who’d serve that purpose. There was no saviour coming off the injury list, or out of the KHL.

I felt much the same. The trade deadline was a fiasco in my eyes, we’d spent even more good money after bad, threw draft picks at an impossible situation and ended up with Steve Ott and Claude Julien somehow. And yeah, as we lost against the 8th-seeded Rangers, looking forward to the next season, there wasn’t no new hope, we’d still be bereft of a #1 centre, and probably a second-line centre too. P.K. would still be gone.

Looking at the coming July 1 UFAs on CapFriendly didn’t offer much to fix our forward lines, but there might be some hope to address our first pairing and find a solution there.

Here is my best-case scenario for today:
1) We re-sign Andrei at pretty much the same money he’s made for six seasons now, for one year or two. All that angst and tergiversation in the media about how contract talks were going, it was all a ruse, to fend off Gary Bettman’s ominousness when warning teams not to cheat his new cherished toy in Las Vegas of unprotected players they can avail themselves of.

2) One of Dmitry Kulikov or Michael Del Zotto, I’ll magnanimously let them decide which one. On a reasonable contract, to play the left side with Shea Weber, our Top 4 would be set and be very respectable. Trevor Daley is my third choice. Brian Campbell, does he have anything left?

Remember this is MY best-case scenario, leave me be with your doubts about one player’s questionable Twitter practices. It all works out in my figurings.

3) The Canadiens avoid getting entrapped by the Alex Radulov negotiations, and aren’t this year’s recipients of the David Clarkson Award, after last year’s trophy went to the Canucks for their acquisition of Loui Eriksson to play with the Sedin brothers. Except that he never really did, which means voters had the Canucks winning this one in a landslide.

So the Canadiens keep their powder dry, keep that cap space free and clear, and feel quite limber without an anvil chained around their neck for five years.

And that’s it. No one else needs to be signed today, the National Overpay Day.

Maybe in a couple of days, as prices come down, maybe a Brian Boyle or Mikhail Grigorenko is worth a shot, to address our shortcomings at centre, but not necessarily with a view that they are The Answer for our franchise centre. Keep our expectations in check.

And a few more days or weeks after that, we fill out our AHL roster with fringe guys still trying to establish themselves. Stefan Matteau, if he just was testing the market and found no takers for a one-way deal, if that relationship isn’t broken, if he’d accept a contract that saw him slated for Laval to start with, I’d be happy to re-sign. See if he can put it together in Laval and eventually graduate for good.

Another option for Laval is Alexandre Grenier, a 6’5″ forward with good hands who’s still working on his game and toiled in the Canucks system for a few seasons. Him and Alexandre Mallet, let’s repatriate all the Canucks’ LHJMQ experiments, and watch them hatch here.

And let’s sign Pierre-Luc Létourneau-Leblond, just because it would be fun to hear Pierre Houde say “Pierre-Luc Létourneau-Leblond” a couple times.

A Luke Gazdic or an Anthony Peluso or a Brett Gallant to keep the peace in the AHL, and we’re done.

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