Monday, July 7, 2008

Big decisions ahead for Bob Gainey

The 2008-2009 NHL season will be one of big decisions for the Montreal Canadiens. With the impending unrestricted free agency of Alex kovalev, Saku koivu and Mike Komisarek not to mention both Christopher Higgins and Tomas Plekanec who will be RFA's choices will have to be made. To start off, will Bob Gainey attempt to resign both Kovy and Koivu? Can he afford to resign both? Signing Kovalev to an extension seems almost a given, seeing as he is coming off perhaps the best season of his career with 35 goals and 84 points good for 11th in the 2007-2008 NHL scoring race. He is perhaps maybe the closest thing the Canadiens have to a bona fide superstar and he is a fan favorite. I also expect Komisarek, Higgins and Pleks to all be resigned given their age and the fact that they already are, and will be 3 of the big pieces of this team's core for years to come. All should expect to receive generous raises.

It will probably get a bit more complicated in the case of the captain Saku Koivu. I mean lets face it he will be 34 in November, is injury prone and his best years are behind him. Would he be willing to except less money and a reduced role to return with the habs? If, and this is a big ''IF'', Mats Sundin accepts Gainey's rumored offer of a 2 year contract will Bob even be interested in resigning Koivu? And not to forget the constant rumors of some kind of a ''rivalry'' between him and Alex Kovalev. All of these factors will most certainly come into play when and if new contract talks start with Saku. On a more positive note, he will have an opportunity to play this upcoming season with perhaps the best set of wingers of his career in Higgins and Tanguay, assuming the line of Kovy , Pleks and AK46 stays intact and Sundin does not decide to sign on.

It should be an interesting centennial year for the Montreal Canadiens both on and off the ice, expectations and hopes will be high. With the experience of last season's Eastern conference regular season title and 2 playoff rounds all seems possible for this upcoming landmark ( 100th seaon in the NHL) year.

Something has to give in Anaheim

With the recent signing of UFA Brendan Morrison and Anaheim Ducks at par with the salary cap, something is going to have to give, or rather, someone is going to be shipped out of the "Sunny State". All speculation leads to their blueline, with over 22 million dollars invested, all eyes are pointing to former all star defenseman Mathieu Schneider. Several teams are in need of a puck moving defenseman who can also quarterback the powerplay. This will lead us to speculation of which team will be enticed to take his 5.6 million dollar contract, while giving up a late round draft pick, which is rumored to be the asking price for him.
The Ottawa Senators GM, Bryan Murray, has been given heat from local media, for not going after any "big names" on July 1st. After losing Wade Redden to free agency, perhaps Schneider would be a good fit on the defense corps in Ottawa. He is no stranger to a Canadian team, being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, so he knows all about Canadian hockey already. Could Mathieu's veteran leadership fill the void that Jason Smith left in Philadelphia after his departure to free agency? Also the Buffalo Sabres loss a lot in the backend, when they had to trade expected to be unrestricted free agent Brian Campbell to the San Jose Sharks.
With all these teams looking for help on defense, with how scarce puck moving defensemen are becoming in this league, there will be a trade. The question is not who will be giving up more for Schneider, yet who is willing to take on the final year of his hefty contract. You never know, it might be a win for the team that lands him, 39 points in 65 games while maintaining a +22 are no stats to laugh at. This is done on a team with superstar defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Neidermayer.
With that said, we all know that come October, Mathieu Schneider will not be wearing Duck silks, time will tell where he will end up.

Who's left after 1 week (worth a look)

Pavol Demitra (rumored to sign with VAN)
Jason Williams
Ladislav Nagy
Teemu Selanne (should be back with ANA)
Joe Sakic (should be back with COL)
Peter Forsberg (midseason pickup?)
Sergei Fedorov (likely back with WSH)
Brendan Shanahan
Bryan Smolinski
Jan Hlavac
Martin Gelinas
Chris Gratton
Yannic Perreault

Bryan Berard
Jason Smith
Jaroslav Modry
Aaron Miller
Marek Malik
Karel Rachunek
Sean Hill
Steve Montador
Chris Chelios (should return to DET)
Joe Dipenta

Ray Emery
Johan Holmqvist
Jocelyn Thibault

Vyborny, Vasicek, Straka, Yashin, Jagr and Dubielewicz all signed in Europe.

Recchi A Bolt

TSN reports the Tampa Bay Lightning have signed veteran forward Mark Recchi to a contract. The Contract is a 1 year deal that is worth 1.25 million or 1.5 million dollars with incentives.

Morrison's a Ducks

UFA Brendan Morrison has signed with the Anaheim Ducks. The deal is worth 2.75 million dollars for one year.

Peca back with the Jackets?

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets resigned forward Michael Peca, to a two year deal. The deal could be announce tomorrow.

Avery a STAR? Okay for now . . .

I dislike the guy with a passion ... but I'm willing to give him a chance. The fact that he will be wearing green and white makes the past irrelevant, at least for now. We all know he can play the game well; he simply has to keep his mouth to a minimum. I think with Morrow in command and Hull's guidance from above, Avery can be an excellent addition to this team. This could very much be like Dennis Rodman going to the Chicago Bulls - with Michael Jordan in command - and winning more championships. No doubt Rodman was a phenomenal basketball player, but he was a loose cannon just the same. In fact, there was a history of bad blood between Rodman and Scottie Pippen (Jordan's right-hand man and, arguably, the second best player in the league). MJ, with his extraordinary leadership skills, was probably the only guy in the league capable of keeping Rodman focused and in the game. The result, of course, was three more rings! Avery is no Rodman and Brendan is certainly no Michael, but they are both capable of filling similar roles. Furthermore, I cannot wait to see Avery and Otter on the same line ... what a force! I'm still looking for one more piece to be added ... we still need another scoring winger.


Bertuzzi A Flame

TSN reports the Calgary Flames have signed forward Todd Bertuzzi to a 1 year contract worth 1.95 million dollars.

Winter Classic

Reports are out that the 'Hawks and Wings will meet in a second straight "Winter Classic" on New Year's Day at Wrigley Field.

Great news for the NHL and hockey fans everywhere.

Flyers Agree To Deal with GM, Paul Holmgren

According to The Delco Times newspaper the Philadelphia Flyers have agreed to a new 3 year contract with General Manager Paul Holmgren. Holmgren has done a great job with the team and took them from last place in there conference to the Eastern Conference Final.

Jackets,Umberger Agree To Deal

The Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed on a 2 year deal with newly acquired forward RJ Umberger. Umberger who was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2008 NHL Draft will not be a stranger to Columbus,Ohio as he played hockey with the OSU Buckeyes for 3 seasons. No Terms Available.

Stajan Remains A Leaf

According to Globe Sports the Toronto Maple Leafs will announce the re-signing of forward Matt Stajan to a New two-year contract. The deal is worth 3.5 million. Stajan was a Restricted Free Agent.






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