The Montreal Canadiens had the most players to re-sign or seek out this 2009 off-season. Might be a new NHL record to add to the list of Habs records. The team's GM, Bob Gainey, at the time of the NHL Draft, had 11 players signed and $33 million of cap space remaining. While some teams will be opting for minimum cap this coming season, Montreal will remain a contender for the Stanley Cup and maximize their roster. Anything less than that would send Montreal fans running through the streets and smashing windows.
July 1st came and went and no former RFAs or UFAs had re-signed with the team. Save one. UFA defenseman Mike Komisarek joined up with Habs league rival Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead, Gainey has signed four new NHL veterans to feature on the first team: Mike Cammalleri, Hal Gill, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez (trade) and Jaroslav Spacek.
After their caps are factored in, Montreal has an estimated 8.8 million remaining cap space, according to HockeyBuzz Cap Central on Monday, July 6, 10am EST. Adding five players brings the team total to 16 players. The NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement article 16.4 requires a minimum roster of 18 skaters and 2 goalkeepers. The Canadiens have the goalie scenario sorted out for another year but are 4 skaters short of 18. (for those who haven't already done the math) The team has sufficient defensemen so those 4 skaters will most likely be forwards.
A likely place to look for these players are from last season's roster: RFAs and UFAs. Interestly enough, Gainey let all these players test the free market after offering RFAs qualifying offers. And so far, no forward has signed a new deal. Not Alex Tanguay. Not Alexei Kovalev. No one. So far no NHL team is willing to offer these players, who came off a pretty sub-average season, the big bucks these players feels they deserve. Inspired by my girlfriend's father's notice of this fact, I will take a look at why some of these players aren't getting the deal they thought they should.
will focus on the big-name forwards: Tanguay, Kovalev, Koivu, Lang and compare them to Cammalleri, Gionta and Gomez.
will focus on smaller name forwards who are UFA or RFA. They will fill in the remaining cap space.
Summary follows at end
The value of a player will be based on their 2008-09 salary per regular season pt. To give you an idea of what this means, here are two of the best point scorers in the league and their value. Lower values indicate better value for the number of points they contribute per season.
Sidney Crosby (C): $8,700,000 | 103 pts --> $84,951 per pt
Alexander Ovechkin (LW): $9,000,000 | 110 pts --> $81,818 per pt
It looks like $80,000 per pt would be a good target. But since these two players are big stars and sell merchandise like crazy, let's take a more conservative approach and say $70,000 per pt. This is similar to the salary of Kovalev or Cammalleri.
*** The stats below come from www.hockeydb.com
Alex Tanguay (LW)
Age: 29 / Size: 6 ft 0 / Weight: 192 lbs
Good passer and accumulates assists. Former Stanley Cup winner with Colorado. He has experienced a downward trend since the lockout of 2004-05. Either his average points went down or the number of games per season went down.
Last 4 seasons totals: 280 GP | 258 PTS
Last 4 seasons average: 0.92 pts per GP | 70 GP per season
Last 2 seasons totals: 128 GP | 99 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.77 pts per GP | 64 GP per season
2008-09 season totals: 50 GP | 41 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.82 pts per GP | 50 GP per season
2008-09 season salary: $5,375,000 ($131,000 per pt
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $2,870,000
Alexei Kovalev (RW)
Age: 36 / Size: 6 ft 1 / Weight: 224 lbs
Big veteran winger. Has broken the 80 pts per season barrier twice in his career. He is a Stanley Cup, Olympic champion and three time NHL All-Star. He is one of the best stickhandlers in the league. It is clear he does not get injured much and does contribute in most games. Nothing fantastic but still sounds good. However he is nearing the end of his NHL days as a top linesman.
Last 4 seasons totals: 302 GP | 261 PTS
Last 4 seasons average: 0.86 pts per GP | 76 GP per season
Last 2 seasons totals: 160 GP | 149 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.93 pts per GP | 80 GP per season
2008-09 season totals: 78 GP | 65 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.83 pts per GP | 78 GP per season
2008-09 season salary: $4,500,000 ($69,230 per pt
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $4,550,000
Saku Koivu (C)
Age: 34 / Size: 5 ft 10 / Weight: 183 lbs
Long time captain of the Montreal Canadiens. Wants to retire as a Hab. Great spirit. But his playing level has decreased over the past few seasons. While still a decent forward, he can no longer command a high level or a first line place.
Last 4 seasons totals: 295 GP | 243 PTS
Last 4 seasons average: 0.82 pts per GP | 74 GP per season
Last 2 seasons totals: 142 GP | 106 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.75 pts per GP | 71 GP per season
2008-09 season totals: 65 GP | 50 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.77 pts per GP | 65 GP per season
2008-09 season salary: $4,750,000 ($95,000 per pt
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $3,500,000
Robert Lang (C)
Age: 38 / Size: 6 ft 3 / Weight: 220 lbs
A giant of a centerman. A World Champion, Olympic champion and NHL All-Star. But he is coming off the worst season in his NHL career since 1997-98. Mostly due to a bad injury. The latter will be the reason why no one wants to sign a player his age for any long term deal. His ability to point score is still there however he is playing fewer games per season. It is likely going to be a late summer decision.
Last 4 seasons totals: 279 GP | 207 PTS
Last 4 seasons average: 0.74 pts per GP | 70 GP per season
Last 2 seasons totals: 126 GP | 93 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.74 pts per GP | 63 GP per season
2008-09 season totals: 50 GP | 39 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.78 pts per GP | 50 GP per season
2008-09 season salary: $4,000,000 ($102,564 per pt)
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $2,730,000
Mike Cammalleri (C or LW)
Age: 27 / Size: 5 ft. 9 / Weight: 180 lbs
Smaller but quick and skilled. And young too. He has another decade to go in his career and the first five of those years will be with Montreal. He costs more than a Lang or Koivu but delivers much more bang for the buck. Even if Calgary had paid him what Montreal will next season, he is overall cheaper per pt scored than Koivu or Lang. A big win for Montreal.
Last 4 seasons totals: 305 GP | 264 PTS
Last 4 seasons average: 0.87 pts per GP | 76 GP per season
Last 2 seasons totals: 144 GP | 129 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.90 pts per GP | 72 GP per season
2008-09 season totals: 81 GP | 82 PTS
2008-09 season average: 1.01 pts per GP | 81 GP per season
2008-09 season salary: $3,600,000 ($43,902 per pt
2009-10 season salary: $6,000,000 ($73,170 per 2008-09 pt)
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $5,740,000
Brian Gionta (RW)
Age: 30 / Size: 5 ft. 7 / Weight: 175 lbs
Small indeed but a point maker nevertheless. His speed and accuracy gave him an 89 pts season in 2005-06 with New Jersey, higher than any player the Habs have this year, save Alex Kovalev. He is mid-career and not injured prone playing most games in a season. He needs to deliver over 70 pts to make him a worthwhile signing. His past two seasons have been disappointing but the coming season might improve as he will be on a stronger line-up with Scott Gomez.
Last 4 seasons totals: 307 GP | 247 PTS
Last 4 seasons average: 0.80 pts per GP | 77 GP per season
Last 2 seasons totals: 163 GP | 113 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.69 pts per GP | 82 GP per season
2008-09 season totals: 81 GP | 60 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.75 pts per GP | 81 GP per season
2008-09 season salary: $4,000,000 ($66,667 per pt
2009-10 season salary: $5,000,000 ($83,333 per 2008-09 pt)
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $4,200,000
Scott Gomez (C)
Age: 29 / Size: 5 ft. 11 / Weight: 200 lbs
Gomez was a name being circulated for trade rumours at the 2008 NHL Draft but it was the 2009 Draft that brought him to Montreal. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time All-Star. This is a big name. But also a big salary. Habs fans were hoping for a bigger name and salary (in Vincent Lecavalier) but due to Tampa Bay's management's idiocy, it won't likely happen until they sort themselves out. Gomez is the biggest centreman the Montreal Canadiens have in a few years. In terms of his point scoring abilities, he is comparable to Koivu or Lang except has greater potential and much younger. And being less injury prone than most Habs centreman, Gomez is a win for the team if he delivers like his New Jersey ways.
Last 4 seasons totals: 312 GP | 272 PTS
Last 4 seasons average: 0.87 pts per GP | 78 GP per season
Last 2 seasons totals: 158 GP | 128 PTS
Last 2 seasons average: 0.81 pts per GP | 79 GP per season
2008-09 season totals: 77 GP | 58 PTS
2008-09 season average: 0.75 pts per GP | 77 GP per season
2008-09 season salary: $8,000,000 ($137,391 per pt
2009-10 season salary: same
Estimated season salary @ $70,000 per pt: $4,060,000
With 8.8 million remaining and at least 4 skaters left to sign, we have to be choosy. Of the UFAs, only Tanguay or Kovalev are worth signing, both averaging over 0.80 pts per GP. For Tanguay, a contract like $20M for 5 years seems reasonable. Would add a decent French-Canadien back onto the team's roster. Kovalev, who is getting older, is worth $4 million a season for a few more years. Either sign him for $8 million for two seasons or $9 million for three seasons. Does not look likely we will see both back but possible to see one of them back. With Kovalev confirmed by Gainey on July 6th that he will not return, the hope rests with Tanguay. He might command much less given the luckwarm reception for a deal that he has received throughout the league.
Of the new signings, relative to last year's roster, Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey made improvements. Minor, but still an improvement. If these players remain injure free, I don't see why the Habs won't have their highest Goals For since the 2004-05 NHL Lockout.
The current Habs UFAs screwed up big time last season. They hurt their prospects for big salaries next season. Basically, Habs UFAs are worth less