A Swing and a Miss?
Pencil in a combined $3.5M for Halak, Gorges and O'Byrne and we're sitting at a cap number of $49.3M for 12 forwards, 7 defensemen (including Dandenault) and 2 goalies.
The bad news is this team is not obviously better than the one whose season ended in early May. Tanguay boosts one of the top lines, and that is significant. However a lot of that gain will be offset by the losses of the #3 centre in Smolinski and a solid PP contributor in Streit.
The good news is the hard part of acquiring a top-flight forward is already done and there is still ~$7M in cap space. Even if none of Gainey's big UFA plans pan out - and as of 1:30pm EDT, that's how it appears to be shaking out - bolstering the bottom of the lineup should be a snap.
The minimum needs are:
- top 9 forward, preferably a C
- A #4-7 RS defenseman. May already have this in Dandenault.
Optimally, we're looking at a top-notch C who can play at EV and doesn't carry a huge cap hit into 2009-10. If this fantastical creature exists, it's name is Sundin. The big guy has said that he would take it year by year. To me, that sounds like a one year contract. If he's willing to take less money to join a good club and commit to one year, the Canadiens are still in the running.
Since the end of the season Gainey has said the top priority is a centre. When he took on Tanguay, is it possible he misjudged the market for Sundin? Without Tanguay's $5.25M, a top dollar offer for Sundin would have been possible. Now a $7M will have to suffice. I think Sundin is still a possibility - he may pull a Hossa and go for the 1-year deal for less than he could get elsewhere. Then again he might take $500k to join the Wings, or stay in Toronto or retire.
Looking at other centres to occupy a the #3 slot, Vasicek (RHS like Smolinski) looked OK last season and would come cheap. An inexpensive option at C leaves room for short-term upgrades on a wing and/or defense. Think Naslund, Vyborny, Satan...
I was dead wrong about Ryder being a bargain. Chiarelli unbelievably gave him a 35% raise. He would have been a great addition at $2M. Instead, his cap hit will be the same as Derek Roy's over the next three years and double that of Trent Hunter's. Ryder would be the highest paid skater on the Canucks, Panthers or Kings.
Here is an early look at some notable expected UFAs for 09-10:
Plus the Habs' own Tanguay, Koivu, Kovalev, and Komisarek.