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2021-22 State of the Habs


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1 minute ago, BigTed3 said:

I thought Gainey did a reasonable job as GM. Why?

- he inherited a bad team and made it better

- we had several strong drafts under Gainey. Some first round hits like Price, Pacioretty, and McDonagh, but also later round gems like Subban, Kostitsyn, Grabovksi, Streit, and Halak.

- We can fault him all we want for trading McDonagh for Gomez (and I usually hate trading blue chip prospects for older players) but the counter-point is that bringing in Gomez also likely helped us land Gionta and Cammalleri. If we hadn't have traded for Gomez, I doubt Gionta comes here. And without Gionta and Gomez, unclear if Cammalleri comes here. So it could be argued that he flipped McDonagh but used that to acquire his whole first line.

Yeah but it was a first line that shouldn't have been able to win anything. They made it to a conference final riding a hot Halak (and Cammaleri) but the move at that point was to retool and rebuild after the Saku era. Instead we got the smurf line

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1 hour ago, habsisme said:

Yeah but it was a first line that shouldn't have been able to win anything. They made it to a conference final riding a hot Halak (and Cammaleri) but the move at that point was to retool and rebuild after the Saku era. Instead we got the smurf line

Fine, and I still don't like the trade, but I'm just pointing out that if you think of his options as being

- Retain McDonagh and re-sign Koivu

- Trade McDonagh for Gomez and sign Cammalleri and Gionta

 

then it's not as clearcut of a loss.

It's the same thing with Bergevin signing Price to that massive contract. Easy to talk about how terrible a deal it was, but it wasn't a decision between signing Price to 10.5M or signing him to 5 years at 6M a year. It was likely a choice between the deal we signed and Price possibly leaving in free agency or forcing a trade. Again, not to say the extension was right or wrong, but it's not as bad when you don't compare it to an alternative that didn't exist.

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9 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

I thought Gainey did a reasonable job as GM. Why?

- he inherited a bad team and made it better

- we had several strong drafts under Gainey. Some first round hits like Price, Pacioretty, and McDonagh, but also later round gems like Subban, Kostitsyn, Grabovksi, Streit, and Halak.

- We can fault him all we want for trading McDonagh for Gomez (and I usually hate trading blue chip prospects for older players) but the counter-point is that bringing in Gomez also likely helped us land Gionta and Cammalleri. If we hadn't have traded for Gomez, I doubt Gionta comes here. And without Gionta and Gomez, unclear if Cammalleri comes here. So it could be argued that he flipped McDonagh but used that to acquire his whole first line.

I agree with the first 2 points and overall I thought Gainey was a good GM, at least pre-cap.

But that Gomez trade was awful IMO basically because it took place during the salary cap era. Did it help landing Gionta and Cammelleri? No idea, but even so, I don't think such a large over-payment can be justified. Prior to the cap, that trade would be defensible: trading one of your top prospects for a solid #1 center coming off a somewhat weak season isn't crazy. What made it a terrible trade to me is at the time Gomez was widely considered to have one of the worst contracts in the league especially after a weak season and NYR needed the cap space for Gaborik, who was considered elite. That's a situation where Montreal needs to be squeezing NYR, not the other way around, no way we should have sent a top prospect the other way. Sure, I can't guarantee Montreal ends up with Gomez if they negotiate harder, but that's a risk you have to take.  The Duncan Keith trade last summer struck me as very similar: it's fine to want the player, but in that situation where you're doing the other team a favor by taking them off their hands, you shouldn't be the one having to pay.

Gainey was a good GM, but to me that trade showed he wasn't ready for the cap.

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4 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

I agree with the first 2 points and overall I thought Gainey was a good GM, at least pre-cap.

But that Gomez trade was awful IMO basically because it took place during the salary cap era. Did it help landing Gionta and Cammelleri? No idea, but even so, I don't think such a large over-payment can be justified. Prior to the cap, that trade would be defensible: trading one of your top prospects for a solid #1 center coming off a somewhat weak season isn't crazy. What made it a terrible trade to me is at the time Gomez was widely considered to have one of the worst contracts in the league especially after a weak season and NYR needed the cap space for Gaborik, who was considered elite. That's a situation where Montreal needs to be squeezing NYR, not the other way around, no way we should have sent a top prospect the other way. Sure, I can't guarantee Montreal ends up with Gomez if they negotiate harder, but that's a risk you have to take.  The Duncan Keith trade last summer struck me as very similar: it's fine to want the player, but in that situation where you're doing the other team a favor by taking them off their hands, you shouldn't be the one having to pay.

Gainey was a good GM, but to me that trade showed he wasn't ready for the cap.

Oh, I fully agree that Gainey didn't manage the cap situation that well. But I think at the time, very few GMs had a good understanding of the cap and teams weren't willing to give up anything for cap space. So I don't think it was like NY was going to give us another prospect just because Gomez made a lot of money. I just don't think it was a negotiating point back in that timeframe.

As I said, I generally hate trading blue chip prospects for aging players. It's not the way I would build the team and especially in the cap era where you need homegrown cost-controlled players on your roster. That said, the team has also had success trading prospects for veterans. Gainey dealt Jozef Balej for Alex Kovalev and that worked out brilliantly. We also swapped Sebastian Collberg for Tomas Vanek, and that was a win too. If McDonagh hadn't panned out all that well (which wasn't a given at the time), then we likely write this trade under the table as a risky gamble but one that didn't cost us anything. Furthermore, with McDonagh being an American playing in US college, it also wasn't a given that he would ever have signed here (akin to what we went through with Poehling, Evans, Caufield, and now Harris - there's always a risk they just walk with no compensation). So it's possible Gainey didn't feel strongly that McDonagh would come to Montreal in the first place.

All that to say that I never would have made that trade either, but to play devil's advocate, not all trades for 30 year-olds end up badly and I simply wanted to point out that the in Gainey's head, it might have been more a thought of I can keep McDonagh and risk losing him for nothing or I can take a gamble on Gomez and add Gionta and Cammalleri if I do that. So my thought here is that there were probably more layers to Gainey's decision than just what went onto the paperwork for that one transaction. We can apply the same thing now - Harris seems to have all the tools to be a quality NHL D man, but if Gorton knows he won't sign here, trading him for an NHL player could be defensible. The Canes clearly lost trading Adam Fox to the Rangers, but there alternative was ending up with nothing.

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1 hour ago, BigTed3 said:

All that to say that I never would have made that trade either, but to play devil's advocate, not all trades for 30 year-olds end up badly and I simply wanted to point out that the in Gainey's head, it might have been more a thought of I can keep McDonagh and risk losing him for nothing or I can take a gamble on Gomez and add Gionta and Cammalleri if I do that. 

The other thing is that there was no indication Gomez was going to fall off a cliff.  He was coming off a 60 point in 70 game season (and he was close to that in our first season with him)... then he hit a rough patch & we bought him out but he wasnt a horrifically bad player or anything. He did good things on the ice and was very underrated defensively.   He got some of his mojo back in his stints with san jose and jersey too.  

The biggest problem was his contract & as we've mentioned, Cap was not something many (including Gainey) GMs were yet familiar or good with.

 

This whole discussion stems from whether Gainey should be an advisor on who our next GM should be and honestly, I see no harm in asking him (or anyone for that matter).  Im confident Gorton will make the right call and im glad he's doing his due diligence & reaching out for opinions.  

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Mattias Norlinder expresses his desire to return to Frölunda

Fredrik Janelid of Göteborgs Posten spoke with Mattias Norlinder yesterday after the Montreal Canadiens defenceman was sent to the Laval Rocket. The Swedish paper was released at 5am local time this morning and has stirred some heated arguments online.

The Swedish defender stated clearly in the article that he had wanted to go back to Frölunda and the for a while.

“In all honesty, I have been wanting go home for a while,” he said. Norlinder also explained that after he had recovered from the injury he suffered against Toronto Maple Leafs on September 27, the plans changed.

“After my injury I thought I was going home, that was the way it sounded. Instead I got sent down to get a few games. At the same time it has been special for Montreal as it hasn’t gone the way the club expected. Then, last week, I wanted to know the plan, but then they fired the GM and almost the whole staff.”

The club stated on Tuesday that they would listen to Norlinder’s opinion when deciding what to do with the rest of the season following three games in Laval. In the interview with Janelind, it is clear that Norlinder wants to go back.

Norlinder does express positive thoughts about the experience gained in the NHL, especially the debut in front of the Bell Centre crowd: “Incredible and special, even if we lost. Especially as we played at home in front of all the fans.”

Frölunda is currently at the top of the SHL, Norlinder would go into one of the top two pairings, and would probably get his role on the first power play unit back as Frölunda has rotated defenders on that position since Norlinder left. Frölunda won the first leg of the Champions Hockey League quarterfinal with 5-2, and is reigning champions of the tournament.

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Carey Price took another important step in his return to game action by skating with full goalie equipment Wednesday for the first time since he re-joined the Montreal Canadiens last month.

Price had been skating without equipment since the end of November. The 34-year-old is recovering from off-season knee surgery, and missed a month of training after he voluntarily entered the NHL’s player assistance program in early October.

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53 minutes ago, Regis22 said:

Mattias Norlinder expresses his desire to return to Frölunda

Fredrik Janelid of Göteborgs Posten spoke with Mattias Norlinder yesterday after the Montreal Canadiens defenceman was sent to the Laval Rocket. The Swedish paper was released at 5am local time this morning and has stirred some heated arguments online.

The Swedish defender stated clearly in the article that he had wanted to go back to Frölunda and the for a while.

“In all honesty, I have been wanting go home for a while,” he said. Norlinder also explained that after he had recovered from the injury he suffered against Toronto Maple Leafs on September 27, the plans changed.

“After my injury I thought I was going home, that was the way it sounded. Instead I got sent down to get a few games. At the same time it has been special for Montreal as it hasn’t gone the way the club expected. Then, last week, I wanted to know the plan, but then they fired the GM and almost the whole staff.”

The club stated on Tuesday that they would listen to Norlinder’s opinion when deciding what to do with the rest of the season following three games in Laval. In the interview with Janelind, it is clear that Norlinder wants to go back.

Norlinder does express positive thoughts about the experience gained in the NHL, especially the debut in front of the Bell Centre crowd: “Incredible and special, even if we lost. Especially as we played at home in front of all the fans.”

Frölunda is currently at the top of the SHL, Norlinder would go into one of the top two pairings, and would probably get his role on the first power play unit back as Frölunda has rotated defenders on that position since Norlinder left. Frölunda won the first leg of the Champions Hockey League quarterfinal with 5-2, and is reigning champions of the tournament.

Not surprising. The Habs are horrible at player development,  and should have sent him back, as soon as he was injured,  and they picked up Sami Niku. They totally wasted a year of his development,  which follows the time lost to covid game reductions.

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Apparently two other teams can participate in salary retention. You could see Habs trade Price (who has the NTC hammer on final destination),  in a three way deal where Habs retain 50% salary, an intermediate team takes him retains 25% and his end result team picks him up for 25%. Of course the percentages could be played with on cap retention. One just wonders what type of compensation the Habs would receive and what the intermediate team like Buffalo, Anaheim, Ottawa with cap room) would need 

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16 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Oh, I fully agree that Gainey didn't manage the cap situation that well. But I think at the time, very few GMs had a good understanding of the cap and teams weren't willing to give up anything for cap space. So I don't think it was like NY was going to give us another prospect just because Gomez made a lot of money. I just don't think it was a negotiating point back in that timeframe.

As I said, I generally hate trading blue chip prospects for aging players. It's not the way I would build the team and especially in the cap era where you need homegrown cost-controlled players on your roster. That said, the team has also had success trading prospects for veterans. Gainey dealt Jozef Balej for Alex Kovalev and that worked out brilliantly. We also swapped Sebastian Collberg for Tomas Vanek, and that was a win too. If McDonagh hadn't panned out all that well (which wasn't a given at the time), then we likely write this trade under the table as a risky gamble but one that didn't cost us anything. Furthermore, with McDonagh being an American playing in US college, it also wasn't a given that he would ever have signed here (akin to what we went through with Poehling, Evans, Caufield, and now Harris - there's always a risk they just walk with no compensation). So it's possible Gainey didn't feel strongly that McDonagh would come to Montreal in the first place.

All that to say that I never would have made that trade either, but to play devil's advocate, not all trades for 30 year-olds end up badly and I simply wanted to point out that the in Gainey's head, it might have been more a thought of I can keep McDonagh and risk losing him for nothing or I can take a gamble on Gomez and add Gionta and Cammalleri if I do that. So my thought here is that there were probably more layers to Gainey's decision than just what went onto the paperwork for that one transaction. We can apply the same thing now - Harris seems to have all the tools to be a quality NHL D man, but if Gorton knows he won't sign here, trading him for an NHL player could be defensible. The Canes clearly lost trading Adam Fox to the Rangers, but there alternative was ending up with nothing.

It's a good point that GMs hadn't fully figured out the value of cap space in 2009, and to be clear I'm not suggesting we could have gotten a good pick/prospect coming back the other way. With that said, given the dates involved, it's fairly clear that Sather wanted to dump Gomez to clear up room for Gaborik, and unless there was some other team willing to pay up to take on Gomez's contract, I suspect they would have taken just Higgins back to dump the salary. The fact that they managed to get a top prospect out of us is why I felt at the time and still feel we got fleeced (even without benefit of hindsight).

I suppose McDonagh's value at the time is debatable, but if Gainey was that worried about college players walking, not sure why he'd have used a first round pick on one in the first place. 

And totally agree that the idea of trading for Gomez at the time wasn't terrible, and even giving up a good prospect to do it wasn't terrible if you ignore the cap implications. It was just the fact that NYR needed to get rid of the guy and still managed to get a top prospect out of us that makes me think Gainey badly got outplayed.  Maybe that deal doesn't get done without McDonagh - no way to know for sure and for all I know there was some other team also offering a top prospect - I just have my doubts.

 

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10 hours ago, claremont said:

Apparently two other teams can participate in salary retention. You could see Habs trade Price (who has the NTC hammer on final destination),  in a three way deal where Habs retain 50% salary, an intermediate team takes him retains 25% and his end result team picks him up for 25%. Of course the percentages could be played with on cap retention. One just wonders what type of compensation the Habs would receive and what the intermediate team like Buffalo, Anaheim, Ottawa with cap room) would need 

I don't know you even need to go that far, get Price's contract down to say 6 million or so and I think he's not just tradable, but could bring back a pretty good haul.

Price would have to agree to it, but Oilers seem like almost a perfect match. If I'm the Oilers management watching the best player in the world waste away in the playoffs and have the chance to bring in a clutch-playoff goalie at a reasonable price, I'd be willing to give up some good future pieces for that.

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11 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

I don't know you even need to go that far, get Price's contract down to say 6 million or so and I think he's not just tradable, but could bring back a pretty good haul.

Price would have to agree to it, but Oilers seem like almost a perfect match. If I'm the Oilers management watching the best player in the world waste away in the playoffs and have the chance to bring in a clutch-playoff goalie at a reasonable price, I'd be willing to give up some good future pieces for that.

Thats for sure.   At $10.5m he's an asset, but a risky one. You're going to get back dead cap and probably a risky player (ie prospect) or pick (always risk involved).

At $6m (if we retain $4.5 or whatever) he's definitely an asset.  "Playoff Price" is a very very sellable commodity.  I think you could get a package similar to what we got for Pacioretty if you retained that salary.  Is it worth it? Maybe.  I also think that if there's an opportunity to get Price a cup elsewhere its worth exploring. Im all about team-first but if we can get a good return AND get him a good chance at Lord Stanley, im ok with that, even though i dont really want to see him go. 

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12 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

I don't know you even need to go that far, get Price's contract down to say 6 million or so and I think he's not just tradable, but could bring back a pretty good haul.

Price would have to agree to it, but Oilers seem like almost a perfect match. If I'm the Oilers management watching the best player in the world waste away in the playoffs and have the chance to bring in a clutch-playoff goalie at a reasonable price, I'd be willing to give up some good future pieces for that.

Agreed. Look at other goalies out there... Matt Murray is making 6M+, Markstom is at 6M, so is Binnington. Grubauer and Quick are a hair under 6M. Lehner, Ullmark, Varlamov, and Demko are all at 5M.

So if a team had their pick of the litter and could trade for anyone, I think they likely take Price at 6 or even 6.5M over pretty much all of those other guys in the 5-6M range. I think some teams would even consider Price at 7-8M.

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14 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

Price would have to agree to it, but Oilers seem like almost a perfect match. If I'm the Oilers management watching the best player in the world waste away in the playoffs and have the chance to bring in a clutch-playoff goalie at a reasonable price, I'd be willing to give up some good future pieces for that.

As for Edmonton, Bouchard is the guy id be targeting but I think there's some other very interesting pieces in Bourgault, Holloway, Niemelainen etc.  They have some very appealing young players thats for sure... and i think for the opportunity to grab Price? they may move one of them. 

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7 hours ago, BigTed3 said:

Agreed. Look at other goalies out there... Matt Murray is making 6M+, Markstom is at 6M, so is Binnington. Grubauer and Quick are a hair under 6M. Lehner, Ullmark, Varlamov, and Demko are all at 5M.

So if a team had their pick of the litter and could trade for anyone, I think they likely take Price at 6 or even 6.5M over pretty much all of those other guys in the 5-6M range. I think some teams would even consider Price at 7-8M.

Ya I think teams would consider him at 7-8, although I think it you can get down to 6 that should really open up the options and hopefully get a better return.

Eating that much salary would be a tough call, although I suppose you could argue it's unlikely he's going to be anywhere near a 10.5 million player as a 38 year old so we're going to be wasting 5 million or so either way. On the other hand, there's a decent chance he ends up on LTIR at some point, and while I don't know the rules, I'd be surprised if that grants relief for retained salary.

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Most regulation losses by a team in their first 28 games of a season (since 1993):
20- Senators (1995-96)
20- Blue Jackets (2005-06)
20- Sabres ('13-14)
19- Canadiens (2021-22 as they fell 2-0 to the Blackhawks tonight)
19- Sens ('94-95)
19- Sharks ('95-96)
19- Lightning (97-98)

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We are still losing but the team is playing a bit better, we are not getting blown out as much as we were early on. I like some of the new players we have brought up they look ok. they are poorly led but there is some hope for the future. I still don't like the system or lack of one we are using and I am not sure keeping Ducharme is good for the kids trying to develop in the NHL he still relies on players like Savard Perrault and some others when we need to let the kids play some of those minutes. If we are going to be serious about developing them we need a coach that is not trying to win more than develop the players! it is going to suck but that is kind of the point.

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1 hour ago, BigTed3 said:

Next 10 games: @Stl, @Pit, vs. Phi, vs. Bos, and then a 6-game road trip through New York and Florida. How many of those games are we going to win? I'll set an over-under at 3.5.

I'll take the under. Given so far we've only won slightly over 1 in 5 games, winning 4 or more against some pretty good teams would count as a big step forward ...

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12 hours ago, Graeme-1 said:

I'll take the under. Given so far we've only won slightly over 1 in 5 games, winning 4 or more against some pretty good teams would count as a big step forward ...

Well we've won a tad under 30% of our games thus far and I'd have to venture that just about everything has gone wrong... poor play, poor coaching, injuries, bad luck, awful special teams, etc. Are we really going to have special teams this bad the rest of the way? Is Gorton really just going to let the same coaching mistakes go unchecked? Not sure, but by natural regression to the means, there could be a little bit of an improvement. So going 4 out of 10 instead of the predicted 3 out of 10 is not a huge huge difference. But I agree, on paper, it seems like a tall order to get 8 points out of 20 for this squad.

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