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Bob Gainey.

While this year's Free Agency period was filled with inflated contracts and long-term deals, only a few GM's sat back and watched the insanity unfold.

One of those GM's is Bob Gainey, a man who is responsible for the Canadiens' uprise to 1st place in the Eastern Conference with a very young team. While they stumbled in the playoffs, ultimately getting defeated by the Philadelphia Flyers, it really didn't come as a surprise when you take into account how inexperienced the club was. And after deciding to go with a Carey Price/Jaroslav Halak tandem in the playoffs -- 20 and 22 years old respectively --the Habs knew what they were getting into. Despite what some critics have to say of Price's performance, the experience will do wonders for his development.

After the playoffs concluded and players like Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins, Sergei Kostitsyn, Andrei Kostitsyn and others all had a taste of the storied Stanley Cup playoffs, Gainey has placed his trust in the youngsters once again, adding little help from the outside. Doing this, he ensures his young stars to have more responsibilities and ice-time next season, ultimately playing a bigger role on the club.

Gainey started his moves at the NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa. Acquiring Alex Tanguay in a deal that sent the Habs' 1st overall pick at this year's draft as well as their 2nd round pick in 2009 to the Flames. The deal finally ensures a winger for Captain Saku Koivu -- considering the A.Kostitsyn - Plekanec - Kovalev line is still very much intact. Going into the 2008-09 season, it appears the Habs will have one of the more deadly scoring lines the league, displaying speed, tenacity and a scoring touch all at once.

When July 1st struck the calendar, GM's were working the phones, agreeing to terms with many lucrative contracts. Among this, Gainey sat patiently in the wings, waiting for an undecided Mats Sundin. His patience spoke clearer than words. He was content with his young and talented club and the only major upgrade he was interested in was the services of the 'Big Swede'. Since then, he's signed George Laraque, a native of Montreal, adding toughness and character to the team.

Instead of locking the Canadiens with inflated, long-term deals (ones that many clubs will be regretting in a few years time - I'm looking at you, New York Rangers), Gainey stayed clear of all the excitement. While the UFA period is a great day for the NHL and its fans, it only takes a couple of days to sit back and analyze how risky a lot of these signing really are. If you ask me, the GM's who stay clear of the madness, only making minor splashes, are the ones who usually come out on top (depending on the situation of the team of course).

As it stands, the Habs have the brightest future out of any team in the NHL, and clogging the minutes of their young players would be a shame, one that would make them take a step sideways. What Gainey has done so far (and he appears to be basically done) is keep the core intact while adding valuable pieces to strengthen the team overall. While the youngsters will decide what direction the Habs go next season, they will build off the leadership and talent of players like Koivu, Tanguay and Kovalev leading the charge. With all that said, however, the future of the Habs largely depends on one player, one who I have no doubt will be a superstar in the years to come. That player is Carey Price, and at the age of 20 years old he's more than impressed the masses with his debut season. I'm very confident in saying that Price will among the better goaltenders in the league next season, and that really scares me as a Leafs fan.

The city of Montreal has reason to celebrate, as their time will come once again. The only question now, is when.
Filed Under:   NHL   hockey  
July 7, 2008 12:51 AM ET | Delete
great blog agree 100%Flamestr
July 7, 2008 12:56 AM ET | Delete
I totally agree what you say, and coming from a Leafs fan it is even more cool to hear! I think Bob knew next summer is going to be a big one(plenty of UFAS/RFAS) for the Habs.Great blog!Habs_Marc
MJL
July 7, 2008 8:16 AM ET | Delete
The Habs certainly have a bright future. But I don't think you can say they have the brightest future of any team. The team that beat them, the Flyers, has a young nucleus of Carter, Richards, Coburn, Lupul, Parent, etc. Certainly on par with the Habs, if not better. The Habs don't have anyone that can match Mike Richards.
July 7, 2008 11:57 AM ET | Delete
Though Mike Richards is a complete player and a solid leader we have some young prospects that can put the puck in the net (Andrei Kostitsyn) and we also have a captain in the making by the name of Kyle Chipchura who is all heart and has all the same leadership qualities that richards has. Both of whom captained team canada to a wolrd junior championship. Im a die hard habs fan, and yes the flyers do look good now and for years to come.... the difference between the two will be between the pipes... and let me just say.... the Price is right!
July 7, 2008 12:38 PM ET | Delete
have any of u guys heard of detroit? ur all fighting for 2nd place (at best)
July 7, 2008 1:50 PM ET | Delete
randycane, hit the nail on the head. If your name ain't kenny holland, you're at best second place in the GM standings...
July 7, 2008 2:22 PM ET | Delete
Bob Gainey did a lot of great things this off-season... but I have to agree with the last two... Gainey's for sure tops in the East. People will say that Holland hasn't done much other than Hossa this off-season, but it's because he makes such great moves ahead of time that he doesn't have to do anything. Good blog!
July 7, 2008 2:29 PM ET | Delete
The Habs have great young players, but don't forget we have James van Riemsdyk and Giroux, two of the most elite prospects in the world.
July 7, 2008 3:26 PM ET | Delete
Great blog, I agree with you 100%Out of every teams, I think that the Habs and the Flyers have the brightest future. I wouldve said the caps but they made some strange move on july 1th.Go Habs Go
July 7, 2008 4:38 PM ET | Delete
Phillyfan12 - Fine with Van Riemsdyk and Giroux, how about Ryan McDonagh (WCHA - All-Rookie Team (Defenseman)) and Max Pacioretty (CCHA - Rookie of the Year) ?
July 7, 2008 4:38 PM ET | Delete
Great blog!
July 7, 2008 6:10 PM ET | Delete
fazz420...you mention about the between the pipes. i am not personally a marty biron fan. can he win the flyers a cup? im not so sure, but you never know. price has all the tools, but he was absolutely awful against the flyers in that series. i give you credit for having confidence in him. after such a beating he took with all the bad goals, i am interested to see if it affects him come this season. he is young. hopefully it did not kill his confidence. so price may have the bigger upside, but the jury is still out on both biron and price.
July 7, 2008 8:37 PM ET | Delete
the habs and flyers definately own the east and they have two great GMs, but the west is just a different kind of monster. there are a handful of teams who are are building strong teams. chicago, pheonix and edmonton are going to be scary in a few years. and then there is detriot, who are second to none when it comes to management and execution.
July 7, 2008 8:57 PM ET | Delete
Nice Blog.
July 7, 2008 11:42 PM ET | Delete
Nah! you're both wrong, the Leafs have the brightest future! (pause for laughter) My humble opinion, the Flyers have better forward prospects, but the Habs actually have a keeper in the nets and that'll go a long way towards making a dynastic team (see Brodeur, Martin for reference)
July 8, 2008 10:29 AM ET | Delete
great blog, coming from a leaf fan no less! you're better than half the ****** that actually get paid on the site...keep em' coming
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