Thursday, June 30, 2011

WIN, WIN.....WIN situation with WIZ?

Chris Botta
Former New York Islander employee, reporter and blogger, Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) reported on his twitter account that James Wisniewski would be signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets within 24 hrs.

Now, before you jump to conclusions, I'm not saying this is definitely going to happen.  I'm just relaying what I've read and considering the source, I wouldn't be surprised if it did indeed pan out as Mr. Botta is reporting.  One has to think logically that during Wiz's time in Long Island he may have built a professional rapport with Chris and therefore may have some inside knowledge as to what James is planning on doing.

If Wisniewski does indeed sign with the Blue Jackets, this has to be seen as a win, win, win situation for the Habs.  Not only does the return for Wisniewski become a respectable 5th round pick but you've also managed to ship Wiz off to the Western Conference and keep him away from your bitter rivals, the Boston Bruins, who will be desperately looking for a powerplay quarterback.

Although, I still think the most logical destination for Wisniewski is to go back home to Detroit, I would be more than happy to see Detroit not gain the services of Wisniewski considering their already potent firepower.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


So we've learned quite a bit today on how your Montreal Canadiens defense is shaping up before the free agency frenzy that starts on July 1st.

We know that James Wisniewski is not signing in Montreal after being shipped off to Columbus earlier this afternoon for a 7th round pick (to be upgraded to a 5th round pick should the Blue Jackets succeed in signing him).  We also know that Roman Hamrlik has refused to accept the 1 year deal that Pierre Gauthier offered him.  According to Petr Svoboda, Hamrlik's agent, the dollar amount was decent but the term was not with Hamrlik looking for a 2 to 3 year deal.

Finally, a news release from the Canadiens indicating that Yannick Weber had agreed to a 2 year deal that would pay him $1.7M over the term of the contract.  A cap hit of 850K is reasonable and well-deserved for Weber who continues to develop and showed glimpses of really solid play in the postseason last year.

Although there is a still a slight possibility that Hamrlik could potentially re-sign with the Habs, I would consider that possibility remote.  Considering the lack of free agents this year, I have little doubt that Roman will get his 2 year deal from another team and I don't blame him for going after it.  This is most likely his final NHL contract and he should maximize his earnings before he retires or goes the way of the KHL.  He provided the Habs organization with solid and effective play over his 4 years with the club and was handsomely rewarded for his efforts.


Let me preface this article by saying that my first option if I were Pierre Gauthier would be to re-sign James Wisniewski.  I would be more than willing to give him a 5 year deal paying $5 to $5.5M per year with one stipulation, I wouldn't offer him a no-trade clause.  And if it was absolutely necessary, then I would offer a limited no-trade, one where he can specify a maximum of up to 5 or 6 teams where he would not to be traded to.

I truly believe that having Wiz in your bottom pairing would sufficiently shield him from any minor defensive woes that he may have; yet it would allow for the Habs to have his offensive capabilities available to them on the power-play and whenever they would be trailing in a game.  Wiz would also be the ideal insurance policy on Andrei Markov being healthy.  If Markov were to re-injure his knee, you could then start to think about LTIR for Markov and an eventual trade or buyout of his contract.  Point is, you would have Wisniewski, a capable substitute, under contract and ready to go.  Should Markov show that he has in fact recovered and become his dominant self once again, you could then use Wiz as trade bait at the trade deadline to get that missing piece (whatever it may be at the time).  At worst, you should be able to trade Wiz during the off-season next year and open up enough cap space for the re-signing on Price, Subban and a top 6 forward.

What we don't know is whether or not Gauthier has already attempted all of the above or more only to be rebuffed by Wiz having decided that he would like to test free agency come July 1st.  What we do know is that Gauthier has offered Roman Hamrlik a 1-year deal to re-sign with the Montreal Canadiens and it has been suggested that Roman will make his decision today.  Although Hamrlik would not be my first choice, I have come to conclude that signing Roman Hamrlik would not be such a terrible backup plan.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


In the weeks leading up to free agency, there has been a lot of chatter about how Brooks Laich would be an ideal signing for the Habs on July 1st and why not?

Currently under contract with the Washington Capitals, Laich is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st should the Caps fail to re-sign him before then.  Listed at 6'2" and weighing in at an even 200 lbs., Laich represents that missing component of size and grit, in a forward, that that Habs have been missing for several years.  Of course, it's not just his size that matters but also his knack for getting into the dirty areas and his willingness to deliver a crushing hit to an opponents' D.  If only Benoit Pouliot had some of the heart and edge that Laich possesses.

So, a forward with size and isn't afraid to use it and can put up some decent numbers offensively.  Sounds like a match made in heaven?  Not if you're asking me.

Brooks Laich is one of the most coveted forwards in this year's UFA class that is very thin.  After Brad Richards and Teemu Selanne (who will only re-sign in Anaheim if he does return to play), there is a gap in points produced, to the next group of players, of which Laich belongs.  If we then remove all the players who are moving past their prime and those who do not fit the power-forward profile, we're left with the oft-injured Erik Cole.

All of this just means that for what he gives you, Laich will be overpaid and not just in dollars but also on term.  His agent will be looking for a minimum of a $4M per year deal that extends for 4 years.  And the latter part is what I'd like most Habs fans clamoring for the organization to sign Laich to pay close attention to.  If the Montreal Canadiens, were truly 1 power forward away from contending for the Stanley Cup, then it would be conceivable for them to over-commit to a player in that magnitude.  However, they are not.  And Laich is not a player to overspend on when you're current payroll already has 2 over-inflated contracts in Gomez and Spacek.