The braying fools are in a tizzy again.
Habs General Manager Pierre Gauthier has made a blunder for the ages! He told Simon Gagné that he wasn’t going to do the equivalent of grabbing his ankles while bending over backwards to have him for 1 year.
Good for Gauthier, says I.
Yes, I know. Gagné is a proven scorer and has been for a decade. He’s also injury prone, but lets not let the facts get in the way of a good piece of fiction.
Gagné and his 5+ million dollar contract was made expendable once the Flyers brought in Nikolai Zherdev. As the story goes, Gagné’s agent phoned Canadiens GM Gauthier before anyone else and asked if there was interest, and if a deal could be made.
“Thanks, but no thanks…no cap room” was the response from the Habs.
Apparently that’s not a good enough answer for many who see the salary cap as nothing but a minor detail. For some, it would have been better to pull the trigger on the deal for the all-star forward and worry about the cap situation later. But is that the smartest thing to do? Gagné was on record as saying that he would have been willing to try Montreal for a year, and see where it goes. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the Canadiens would not have the means next year to sign Gagné to a long-term deal next season. Yes, Markov, and Hamrlik come off the books. Right there is 11 million in cap room saved. There’s also a bunch of RFAs that will come around again, and potential captain Josh Gorges will be seeking a raise. Oh, and don’t the Canadiens do a lot better with Markov in the lineup? That’s right, they do.
In order to make the deal happen now, the Canadiens would have had to send a prospect or a a player that makes next to nothing to Philadelphia for Gagné. The Flyers were not in a position to take on any additional heavy salary. But taking on Gagné also puts the Canadiens well over the cap, and Carey Price (and 2 more depth players) have yet to sign. Wait, it gets stickier. In order to make room for a top-6 forward, Gauthier would then have to move a top-6 forward. We know Gomez, Plekanec, Gionta and Cammalleri aren’t going anywhere. This leaves Benoit Pouliot and Andrei Kostitsyn as potential moveable pieces. Moving Pouliot and his 1.35 million dollar deal isn’t enough to get the Habs back under the cap. So that leaves no other option except moving Andrei Kostitsyn and his 3.25 million dollar deal. “No biggie”, many fans would say. “Good riddance”, many others would say. Not only would Kostitsyn have to go, but probably another lowly paid player in order to bring back the buffer zone under the cap would have to be dealt.
Does moving Kostitsyn make sense in this case? He will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season, and at the age of 26, will be entering his prime. He’s not worth moving now solely to make space for a more expensive player that would not deliver all that much more than Kostitsyn can, if he’s engaged, used properly and healthy. Yes, Gagné is a much more proven scorer than Kostitsyn. Yes, Kostitsyn had only 15 goals last year. That was an off year, an abberation, and everyone should know it. He’s far more likely to net 25 than 15 again, and we all know he could easily hit 30 if things go right for him. Under Jacques Martin’s system, Gagné would be lucky to hit 30 goals – if he stayed healthy. We’ve not even spoken about if Gagné is a fit with the Canadiens. With Gionta and Cammalleri established as snipers on the team, and on the powerplay, is there enough ice for a 3rd highly paid sniper? In a defensive, passive system where the Canadiens play shorthanded more than they do with the man advantage? Probably not.
At next season’s end, we’ll see just how much Gagné wants to play in Montreal. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent, and if he wants to be here so badly, he’ll listen closely to Pierre Gauthier, if Gauthier so chooses to make a pitch for his services.
I don’t truly believe that Simon Gagné wanted to be here, at least not for the long-term. What we’ve been witness to is “public relations” and “saving face”. I believe that Gauthier was prudent in not trying to move mountains to bring in a highly paid, injury prone (yet terrific) player. We’ve been down the road of giving up a lot for the services of a talented Quebec-born player for a single season before, and we saw how that went.
Remember Alex Tanguay?