Monday, July 11, 2011
Habs Rumour Update: Stamkos, Gorges, and Grinders
Contrary to the belief of some impatient Habs fans, Pierre Gauthier has not been asleep at the switch the past week. He continues to work on a number of dossiers on a daily basis. That said, if he is to make a move, it must be one that makes sense both for the Montreal Canadiens and the other team or player(s) involved. Let's dissect some of the buzz going around the net.
1) Steven Stamkos
Habs followers were right to be skeptical when internet rumour pundit IncarceratedBob floated a rumour that Stamkos had asked his general manager Steve Yzerman to look at 4 specific teams for a possible trade, one of which was the Canadiens. I've spoken out in defense of IBob in the past, and still prefer his sources to those of Eklund or most internet rumour mongers, but like any good businessman, some times you just gotta build the hype. Stamkos is NOT coming to Montreal.
Why not, you ask? The reasons are many. For starters, why would Yzerman listen to Stamkos's request on where to be dealt. He doesn't have a no trade clause, and if he were to be dealt, there would be interest in his services league-wide, with the Lightning going with the highest bidder. but most importantly, why would Tampa Bay trade him? Even if negotiations are progressing very slowly - which I think we can all agree is the case - they would be stupid not to explore every other avenue before dealing one of the league's premiere young superstars. In Tampa, it's not about fitting under the Salary Cap (they have almost $15M in space), but rather working with a moving target soft cap imposed by management. I'm sure there is some interest out there in Pavel Kubina who has but a year remaining till UFA or retirement, or Ryan Malone who makes what this summer's market would tell you is a reasonable salary for a player of his caliber. All Stevie Y is doing is playing it cool, seeing how things develop, and waiting for the best offer for his team to make everything fall into place.
But let's fantasize, for just a moment, that Yzerman was forced to deal Stamkos. What would Montreal have to offer? Keep in mind that the Lightning want to win NOW, not collect a bunch of draft picks and prospects. Martin St. Louis is 36 and their starting goaltender for next season is 41. Not quite a team that is going to ask for Jarred Tinordi and Danny Kristo. Clearly the request starts (and from Montreal's perspective, ends) with P.K. Subban. You have to give to get, and Stamkos, a young phenom, will require star power in return. You want to keep Subban? Ok, now you're looking at Pacioretty, Cammalleri, their choice of Eller or Desharnais, and Gorges. Yes, all four. And likely a high draft pick or top prospect on top of those guys just to balance it out. Stamkos is a young, scoring center, so you compensate the Lighting with young (Pacioretty + pick/prospect), scoring (Cammalleri), and a center (Desharnais/Eller), while sweetening the pot with a defensive D the team could use. Maybe they toss a salary dump like Brett Clark back your way along with #91. Now there may be some Habs fans who would be ok with this trade. No guarantee that Tampa would take it, but even if they did, it would decimate the Montreal forward core. You're stuck with over $20M committed to three centers, with your starting goaltender and stud d-man needing huge raises next summer. And don't even try to suggest the Lightning would take Gomez back in any such deal. If that were an option, Stamkos would long be signed. Nor will Gauthier make a separate trade to deal Gomez on top of this blockbuster after emphatically stating that he doesn't foresee major change for a team that has been together for such a short period of time as the Canadiens.
2) Josh Gorges
Gorges' arbitration date was set for July 28th, yet I still hear people complaining and worrying daily that a deal is not yet done. The 28th is 2 and a half weeks away. A contract takes only minutes to sign. Get back to me at 4:00 PM on the 27th without a deal completed and then we'd have something to talk about. This file is progressing as we speak and the two sides will work it out with plenty of time to spare.
3) Mike Blunden
Few batted an eye when the Canadiens slyly dumped a prospect with no future in the organization in Ryan Russell for a player who fills a team need. If Gauthier does not add another forward before training camp, Blunden has a very good shot at making this team. A 6'3" winger who in 2005 was considered a hot enough prospect to represent Canada at the World Junior Chapmionship (alongside some names that may seem familiar to you in Tom Pyatt, Benoit Pouliot, Guillaume Latendresse, Dustin Boyd, and Kyle Chipchura), Blunden is no stranger to dropping the gloves at the professional level. If third and fourth line toughness is what's missing, he can fit the bill, even if he drops a majority of his bouts. That never stopped us from loving Tom Kostopoulos, after all. And hey - you never know - there just may be some late-developing offensive upside there as, despite his meager NHL totals, Blunden registered 12 goals and 21 points in 37 AHL matches last season. If the Canadiens have a fully healthy roster on opening night, it is very possible Blunden starts out in the AHL, but don't be surprised to see him dressing for the team at some point.