Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It's been a few days now that Josh Gorges has signed his 1-year, $2.5M deal with the Montreal Canadiens and the reaction from Habs fans has been expectedly mixed.  We've seen varied reactions but the general consensus (from what I've read and heard) seems to be that one year was simply not enough and that the Habs seem to have short-changed Gorges.  Being a numbers guy through and through and looking at the deal, I cannot help but think that the contract seems like a fair one for both sides.  And yes, I can already hear you yelling out, "but what about the intangibles" that Gorges offers.  So you know what?  Let's take a look at those intangibles on BOTH sides of the coin.  Just as a disclaimer, I'll add right here, that I would've preferred to see Gorges signed for 3 years at $3M per (but not a penny more).

Friday, July 8, 2011


That's the question I have been hearing from Habs fans throughout the day yesterday as the Canadiens starting July 5th announced an array of minor deals.  Gauthier started the week with the signings of goaltenders Peter Delmas and Nathan Lawson.  He then inked veteran forward Brian Willsie and concluded with the minor-league trade sending Ryan Russell to the Blue Jackets organization in exchange for 6'4" Michael Blunden.

So, who are these no-name players and why is Gauthier wasting his time signing and trading for them?  The answer is both simple and complex.  As you all know, the Hamilton Bulldogs are the Canadiens' farm team and as such, Gauthier's required to also assemble their roster.  That's the simple part.  The complex?  Well, it's not that complex actually.  Hamilton is where Habs management sends their most prized prospects to develop into (hopefully) future NHLers.  That's right, the future success or failure of your Montreal Canadiens depends on the kids currently (or about to start) playing with the Bulldogs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Today came news that Zenon Konopka had signed with the divisional-rival Ottawa Senators.  That is not good news for Habs fans.  Seeing that it only took a 1-year deal worth $700K to ink Konopka, I'm really quite befuddled that Habs management didn't up the ante a bit and secure his services.  I was really hoping that Konopka was in Gauthier's target list of players to acquire during this off-season.  I also thought that someone would overpay him in dollars and term and thus make it a difficult signing to accomplish.  Obviously, this didn't happen so from my point of view, today's failure falls squarely on the GM's shoulders.

Other than the obvious toughness and fighting element that Konopka brings which is important and needed, he also brings another essential skill, prowess on face-offs.  This particular facet of his skill-set is why I thought Konopka would be a perfect fit for the Habs.  Considering that face-offs were a major area of concern for the Habs last year, it boggles the mind to not add depth in that area at such a reasonable cap hit.

Monday, July 4, 2011


The Montreal Canadiens made their splash of the off-season on the first day of free agency, locking up power-forward Erik Cole to a 4-year deal worth $18M (AAV of $4.5M).  The move clearly plugs a long-time hole that has plagued the Canadiens for many years.  The Habs finally have a legitimate crease-crashing forward who will not hesitate to abuse opposing defenders with every chance he gets.

At first glance, the term seems a bit on the long side and the money a tad high but this has become a necessary evil these days.  More and more, the realization has begun to set in that to get who you want in the face of 29 other competing General Managers, you will have to sweeten the pot a bit more than would be ideal.  Comparing Cole's contract to what other players signed for as the day progressed made it seem more palatable.

There were many Habs fans hoping that the Canadiens would target and sign Erik Cole.  Although Cole would not have been my first target, I am fully cognizant that what he brings to the team is something special and something that was missing.

Erik Cole's signing doesn't deviate from the strategy that Bob Gainey along with Pierre Gauthier and Jacques Martin decided to implement when they made-over the Canadiens roster just a couple of years ago.  That strategy: to build a team comprised of proven winners, with both speed and skill.  Erik Cole fits that mold to a T.  He's not only a Stanley-Cup winner but also brings considerable foot speed to go along with his skill and bruising size.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Went off to the country over the Canada Day weekend expecting a nice and usual day from Pierre Gauthier (read: quiet) and low and behold, not one but two signings!  Both of the moves are significant enough that they've changed the complexion of the team.
The first signing was that of Peter Budaj and I must say, it surprised me as I didn't expect the Habs to go after someone that was going to cost more than $1M/yr nor did I think that they would go after someone who wasn't already designated as a clear back-up.  One could argue that Budaj is just that but I'd rather think of him as that goalie who battled it out with Jose Theodore and won the #1 spot a few years ago.

Yes, Budaj has struggled as a starter in this league but it's worth noting that the teams, with which he had his worst stats, also were terrible.  He has also played very well in stints, throughout his career, which shows promise and ability.

From a technical standpoint, Budaj plays the position correctly and efficiently and his raw talent has allowed him to make it to the sharp-shooter filled NHL.  He has had issues by leaving his catching glove too low and then corrected it by holding it too high.  In my opinion, I believe that his lack of further development has been directly linked to the Avs' failure in hiring a proper goalie coach - a real 'faux-pas' in today's hockey.