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Why Bill Guerin Doesn’t Fit With the Habs

This post is in response to Eric Engels’ post entitled “
No Brainer: Habs Should Offer Guerin a Contract“.

In principle, I agree with almost everything written. Guerin has some gas left in the tank, is a right-handed shot for the Canadiens powerplay and is a respected leader. He brings grit and toughness that the Habs are sorely lacking. I wouldn’t mind seeing Guerin in a Habs jersey for a season. But can it work?

It’s all well and good to fantasize about it, but let’s quickly look at the numbers. The Canadiens have 4.13 million left in cap space, and still need to sign Carey Price. Let’s assume that the current rumour is true and that Price is about to sign for 2.75 million dollars. That leaves the Canadiens 1.38 million to sign Guerin, and preserve some buffer space for injuries, call ups and a potential trade deadline pick up. Let’s make the further assumption that Guerin would accept 1 million to sign with the Canadiens. One of the popular refrains from fans is to say “get the guy and worry about the cap later”. That’s awfully easy to say when you’re not the one with millions of fans breathing down your neck. The other justification fans trot out there is “the GM just needs to be creative”. Creative huh? In the same way New Jersey is trying to be creative with the Kovalchuk situation? Or creative in the same way Darryl Sutter thinks what’s old is new again? Creative is a very vague, very subjective thing…but I digress.

Signing Guerin for a million would leave the Canadiens tighter than Kiera Knightley in a corset (you’re welcome for the visual), with a paltry $380,000 left. Yikes.

For all the good things that Guerin brings to the rink, do the Canadiens need another guy to enter the “leadership equation”?

Jacques Martin is going to nominate a captain soon. I’m pretty sure that captain, whoever it turns out to be would admit that he (behind closed doors, of course) would like some elbow room to establish himself as captain. That gets a little harder to do with Guerin around. This isn’t a case where Guerin mentors Sidney Crosby while he navigates the waters of captaincy. Guerin is a leader by nature, and a vocal one. You don’t bring a guy with his character in to the room and ask him to stay quiet and let the current core lead. His presence in the room would only stifle and confuse what’s already been built upon. I’m not saying Guerin is a bad seed. It’s more a case of pouring a fine scotch in to a glass of expensive red wine and expecting the combination to taste good.

The other exercise is to find a place for Guerin to play. He’s not going to play on the top 2 lines. At least not right away. The top 6 is set, and the only thing that would change that is if either Andrei Kostitsyn or Benoit Pouliot drop the ball, or if somebody gets hurt. Admittedly, that would probably happen at some point. Would Guerin fit in the bottom 6? I think we can agree that having him as a 4th liner is a waste of everyone’s time, especially Guerin’s. What good is he with the likes of Boyd, Pyatt, Darche or Lapierre? Perhaps there’s a fit with Eller and Moen as a grinding line with some offensive punch. That’s a big if.

If Carey Price signs for less than $2.25 million, then I’d say go ahead and offer Guerin a million bucks. At least then you’d have space to make an emergency call up from Hamilton.

Personally I wouldn’t sacrifice all of my remaining cap space for a guy whose presence would come with positives and negatives. In that case that Price gets closer to 3 million, I’d prefer to see if Max Pacioretty can crack the roster again.

I like Bill Guerin, but in my opinion, the stars aren’t aligning properly for him to don the bleu-blanc-rouge. I wouldn’t cry if it did happen, and in the end if it did happen I’d probably be happy with the move, but I think with so little cap room left, and not much roster space available, it may not be the best, or even a necessary move at this time.

In my opinion, he’d be a dream trade deadline acquisition, if whatever team he’s with falls out of the post season picture. By then his cap hit will be negligible and his intangibles as a locker room presence become less of a potential hazard to the established leadership, as it will already have had time to establish itself.

What do you think? Should the Habs try and get Guerin on the cheap?

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  • http://yvesonhabs.com Yves

    Personally, I would not offer Guerin a contract.

    With the present roster, we’ve got many veterans and cup champs to mix with the young guys coming up.

    I would think the spot Guerin would take would best be left for another young guy to come up. We’ve got a bunch of guys who deserve a shot. And aside from deserving a shot… it’s a step in those prospects development.

    Great post Kyle.

  • Number31

    If anyone watched the Pens more than just in the series, Guerin was fairly ineffectual. He lost a big step… Basically hangs on the coattails of either Crosby or Malkin (a bit like how Lats suddenly boosted his points by picking up some of Havlat’s leftovers while everyone was busy knocking Havlat over). He’s unable to do the lower-level grinding on a regular basis, and a waste of roster space to just sit in front of the goalie (cheaper younger options available on the team already). Best leave that spot open for Patches or Palushaj to battle it out. Plus I wouldn’t replace AK46 regardless of his own occasional ineptitude for this guy who’s on the ends of his career. (And most of AK46’s ineptitude was largely due to injury, not many people know he couldn’t lift his arms for the second half of the playoffs).

    My lasting memory of Guerin last year was when he tried to teach Ryan White a lesson for hitting Malkin. White flipped him over.

  • http://www.habswatch.blogspot.com HabsWatch

    To keep the cap down, I undestand the logic behind Gauthier offering one-way deals that are cheaper cap-wise than two-way deals. I just he went too far with a 4th line that cost $1.65 Million but who are all on one way deals. That’s a major handicap to make any roster moves. To tie up the last roster spot with yet another one-way contract would just be stupid imho.

  • http://www.thecheckingline.com Prax

    The other day I saw someone complaining that the Habs didn’t sign Raffi Torres and blamed it on the Mathieu Darche contract… so ya, HabsWatch is right when he says that this is pretty much Gauthier’s fault. I’m all for “cap creativity”, but there’s a limit, especially with this team, and especially when we’re talking about signing overage players on a short term basis. In my opinion there’s just no need for this.

    And Kyle, I love the Kovalev comparison. Minus the superstar attitude, it’s spot on.

    If anything, the reason we won’t sign Guerin is the same reason we didn’t sign Shanahan 2-3 years ago, and HabsWatch touches on that too.

  • http://www.habswatch.blogspot.com HabsWatch

    Pierre Gauthier has greatly reduced the Habs flexibility for making roster moves with all the one-way contracts he’s handed out. I have to think the 13th forward must be a player who doesn’t need waivers to allow at least some options without being bled dry on the waiver wire.

    On top of that, the cap is so tight young players like Weber, Patches, Carle, etc may be too pricey to call up, which further handicaps the options to make any moves if/when injuries hit again.

    From the Habs position Guerin seems unworkable and from Guerin’s perspective I have to assume he’ll take almost anything in the US before he considers Quebec taxes and schools for his young kids.

    Seems a non-starter for both sides.

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle

    That’s a good point, Marc. Picard may be kept around as insurance though. While the 600k difference could be the difference in affording Guerin or not, I still don’t believe there’s enough ice time available for him to be successful. Then there’s the issue of his presence in a room trying to get used to its new captain. Like I said, if he came aboard, I certainly wouldn’t cry about it. I just think the money can be better used by giving Pacioretty a good shot at making the team and developing at the NHL level.

    I agree…the fit just isn’t right. I’d say if we still had Alex Kovalev instead of Brian Gionta, that there would be a need for someone with his kind of leadership, sniper ability and toughness. We wouldn’t get full value for him…I really think a “too many cooks” scenario would unfold.

  • http://www.thecheckingline.com Prax

    When I saw Engels ranting on twitter about Guerin I wanted to call him out on it but you know he defensive he gets when he has an idea about the Habs… Guerin is a great player with a storied career who can still bring it, but the fit just isn’t there, and frankly, he really doesn’t add much to this team, at least not the things it needs. Great piece Kyle.

  • Marc

    That 4.1 M figure counts Alex Picard as the 8th defenceman. If Markov is healthy to start the year – and it certainly looks possible as per his agent – then there is no need for 8 and the cap room is 4.7 M.

    Guerin isn’t much of a skater at this point and the Habs are a skating team. It could be a very poor fit.

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