Blog #3, maybe this one will actually appear on ‘myhockeybuzz’ or on Eric Engals’ page!
Basically, I am here to continue my unfortunate stream of pessamistic emails, and to tell you exactly why I believe that the Montreal Canadiens will not win a cup in the next five years, and why exactly I hated the Gomez trade.
First of all though, I will say that I liked the signing of Travis Moen, as a replacement for Tom Kostopolus, and of Paul Mara, which completes our set of six NHL-calibre defensemen, with Weber waiting on deck. This will be a fun year to follow the Canadiens, even if not ultimately successful, and kudos to Bob for doing what no one expected and TOTALLY changing this team around by not signing ANY of his ten UFAs. I think that the Mara signing put an end to the possibility of another september Brisebois signing.
So back down to the sad rink of reality. Four teams have won the cup since the salary cap was first implemented during the lockout. They are: Carolina, Anaheim, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. Each of these worthy winners used their own models, some relying on goaltending, some defense, and some high scoring forwards. What I have noticed, however, is that they all had one major thing in common. It comes down to the centre ice position.
2005-2006: Carolina Hurricanes
#1 Center – Eric Staal: homegrown, drafted 2nd overall in 2003, 6’4’’, 205 lbs
#2 Center – Rod Brind’Amour: drafted 9th overall in 1988, acquired via trade, 6’1’’, 205 lbs
2006-2007: Anaheim Ducks
#1 Center – Andy McDonald: homegrown, undrafted free-agent, 5’11’, 183 lbs
#2 Center – Ryan Getzlaf: homegrown, drafted 19th overall in 2003, 6’4’’, 221 lbs
2007-2008: Detroit Red Wings
#1 Center – Pavel Datsyuk: homegrown, drafted 171st overall in 1998, 5’11’’, 194 lbs
#2 Center – Henrik Zetterberg: homegrown, drafted 210th overall in 1999, 5’11’’, 195 lbs
2008-2009: Pittsburgh Penguins
#1 Center – Sidney Crosby: homegrown, drafted 1st overall in 2005, 5’11’’, 200 lbs
#2 Center – Evgeni Malkin: homegrown, drafted 2nd overall in 2004, 6’3’’, 195 lbs
What all of these cup winners had in common was that their top 2 centers were crucial to their teams’ success, 7 of the 8 listed here were homegrown, and were therefore in many cases playing at discounted salaries, and that many of them were big centers, particularly Staal and Getzlaf. Bottom line is, it looks like for the next five years, our top 2 centers will be as follows:
#1 Center: Scott Gomez: drafted 27th overall in 1998, acquired via trade, 5’11’’, 199 lbs
#2 Center: Tomas Plekanec: homegrown, drafted in the 3rd round in 2001, 5’10’’, 189 lbs
Bottom line, neither are big centers, only one is homegrown (not the most important), and neither are game changers, at least not to the same extent as the others on this list.
Finally, and please correct me if you disagree, but I can’t think of ONE player since the implementation of the salary cap on a cup winning team who has been overpaid by at least 2 million$ (as is Scott Gomez and possibly others on the Habs) at the time of winning the cup. The rigid cap structure simply doesn’t allow a winning team that kind of leeway.
So what was wrong with the Gomez trade?
1. 7.38 million $ per year…way too much, can’t win the cup like that
2. Chris Higgins…gritty player, homegrown, habs fan growing up, still young with time to evolve, potential captain….we lost all that
3. Ryan McDonaugh…and for me this is THE biggest one, for a team that won’t win the cup in the next 5 seasons, giving up on the future is not something that we want to be doing
4. Saku Koivu…Mark Recchi said that he would rather have Koivu than Gomez any day…Gomez might be better, but not by much, and Koivu would have cost us nothing. By getting Gomez, Gainey said goodbye to Saku, our captain for 9 seasons previous.
5. Cap Space…Gainey took a bad contract off the hands of a bad GM in Glen Sather. He allowed the Rangers to sign Marian Gaborik who will be a tough player to handle in the coming years. On the bright side, could have been worse, we could have allowed them the space to sign our own Mike “he who must not be named”-sarek!
Basically, the Habs need to draft big, skilled centerman…whether it takes high 1st round selections, or late steals. Louis Leblanc was a good start, but I see him more as a good 2nd liner, now we need our Eric Staal, our Ryan Getzlaf, our Pavel Datsyuk, our Sidney Crosby…and hell, since I think that he will lead his team to the Stanley Cup finals this season…our Mike Richards. Like I’ve said before, I think it is more likely to not be Gainey who will lead us to the promised land, but whoever it is, they must realize that it all starts right down the middle.