As we get down to the short strokes on trade deadline watch, the more I'm convinced I don't want Gainey to make a big deal. I like Chris Higgins, even if he hasn't been producing much lately. I like Michael Ryder, even though he might leave as an UFA in July. I like Mikhail Grabovski, even though he's not very big. And I LOVE Jaroslav Halak, who I think has vast untapped potential. I don't want to see any of these guys go for a player who either has a bloated salary that exceeds his worth, like Brad Richards, or a player who might stay in Montreal through a playoff appearance then vanish, like Marian Hossa.
There are some players who *might* be worth giving up a piece of the future. Olli Jokinen is one. As a big centre who's tough and consistent with the points, he'd fill a long-term need. He's signed for two more seasons at a reasonable salary too. And the Panthers might not ask for Halak as part of the deal, which is one thing I'm dreading about any trade that Gainey pulls off. But even for the likes of Jokinen, the price can be too high. A package of Chris Higgins, a first round pick and prospects like O'Byrne or Valentenko could be doable. If Jacques Martin wants more than that, Gainey should back off and let the team he has determine its own fate.
In saying this, I'm not opposed to smaller deals for smaller parts. Maybe the aquisition of that third-line defensive specialist for Jonathan Ferland and a second-round pick. But beyond that, the thought of sending big pieces of the current team away for one guy, no matter how good, makes me queasy.
I think the Habs have some of the solutions to their problems in the system already. I think Halak might help shore up the goaltending. Defensive prospects are thick on the ground throughout the organization. Even scoring up front looks to be shaping up with Ben Maxwell, JT Wyman and Max Pacioretty developing.
So, if Gainey can land Jokinen for a fair price, I'm all for it. If he can't, I don't want him to gamble on plan B's like Hossa or Richards. The risk to the team's future is just too high, and the return far from guaranteed.