So I feel that, as a Habs fan, I can make some of my thoughts known on what the team should do this off-season. Or, what I feel about what will or could be done. Either way, this is ultimately just idle chatter. But it’s my idle chatter, which makes it all worthwhile.
So let’s start where it all starts, and that’s in goal. Despite what Jaroslav Halak did for the team, lifting it on his back and dragging it into and through the playoffs, I still believe the future is Carey Price. Price is still young. Very few goalies take the league by storm and then maintain their run. Most do fall into what is commonly referred to as the Sophomore Slump. And Price did. But we have to remember that he has played only 134 games in his career, which is not a large enough sample size for a young goalie. But we can’t place all the blame on Price’s performance thus far in his career solely on his shoulders. He has been mishandled since he was drafted. After his Calder Cup-winning performance, he should have played the next season in the AHL for more seasoning before being brought up. Keeping him on the roster for the 2007-2008 season and then trading Cristobal Huet was a mistake. Price should only now be entering his second season, third at the most. Not readying himself for his fourth season. In terms of Halak, the Habs should try to parlay his strong season into some pieces the team is missing. His trade value has never been higher, and that is something of which the Habs need to take advantage. But don’t think I don’t appreciate what Halak did for the team. He was playing out of this world through the playoffs and down the stretch. But this is an example of managing your assets, I feel. The Habs have a goalie coming off a stellar run, one who will command more than the team can likely afford, and he should be parlayed into something that can help the team going forward. And then there’s the whole pedigree angle. Price is a fifth overall pick. Halak is a 271st overall pick.
I wish I could speak more about the defense corps, but alas I cannot. But I will try. It is pretty clear the P.K. Subban will be on the team come October. And so he should be. And with Subban joining the team, it spells the end for Marc-Andre Bergeron. Bergeron was fairly dynamic on the powerplay, but a gong show off it. We fans don’t need to risk a heart attack every time Bergeron handles the puck, so I have to say good riddance. Plus, Subban can do Bergeron’s work on the powerplay for less, and is a marked improvement as a defenseman and puck handler. Plus, there’s also Yannick Weber in Hamilton who will (should) be given every chance to make the big club. Weber would be similar to Subban, as a cheaper defenseman, replacing the (likely) outgoing Paul Mara. Frankly, that’s about all that needs to be examined on the back end, in my opinion.
Now the forwards. First off, why do we have Scott Gomez at that ridiculous $7.4 million salary? That’s money that could be spent better in other places. Dammit, Bob, what were you thinking? Moving on. The Habs either need to sign Tomas Plekanec to a 3-4 year contract at no more than $4.5 million per year, or trade his rights for something to help the team should he leave. Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta are great players, but the team needs to get larger up front. And not just big, but big and skilled. This is where, it appears, the Habs’ drafting has not been up to par. It’s hard to pick up big, skilled forwards on both the trade and free-agent markets. Teams trading such players will want a king’s ransom. Such free agents will also demand a king’s ransom. And that’s something the Habs don’t quite have at the moment. And what to do about the Kostitsyn brothers (Andrei and Sergei)? AKostitsyn is an underachiever. SKostitsyn is a whiny baby. I think they both need to be removed from the team. What remains to be seen is if they could be packaged for something bigger, or whether it would be better to send them separate ways. But really, this off-season for the forward corps comes down to solving the Plekanec situation, and going from there. And good riddance to Georges Laraque.