Random Habs-related thoughts for today:
-Most people agree the most effective way to build a really good team is to draft great young talent and hold onto it as long as possible. That's the argument behind the theory that it's not bad to tank a season or two and gather in some top picks. The common anti-tank example is the Detroit Red Wings. But that team didn't have to tank because of extreme good luck in picking Datsyuk and Zetterberg in the late rounds of their drafts. The Wings have pretty much ignored the early rounds of the draft for years, often trading their picks for deadline help to keep the team competitive. The problem they have now is that Lidstrom is old and the younger stars have had injuries. Their luck with finding late-round superstars has ended and now, without a strong core of young talent they've drafted, their depth is questionable and they're a bubble team like everyone else. As far as the Canadiens are concerned, I think it's pushing things to cite Detroit as the shining example of how to build a team without any top-five picks. No other team has managed to be that lucky, that's all.
-Michael Ryder is on the trading block, just a year after signing his big free agent deal in Boston. All the things Habs fans complained about, like the fact that Ryder's a one-trick pony that ends up lame when his shot isn't finding the back of the net, are the same things Bruins fans are complaining about now. It brings up an interesting fact. Most of the players Canadiens fans panicked about letting go to free agency have never actually managed to duplicate their best years in Montreal with their new teams. Sheldon Souray has been injured frequently and seems to have lost the accuracy of his cannon in Edmonton. Mike Komisarek is hurt and a minus in Toronto. Mark Streit is a good defenceman on Long Island, but has never matched his Montreal point production. Ryder's never scored thirty goals since he left Montreal. Alex Kovalev started to heat up with thirty games to go in Ottawa, but probably won't crack fifty-five points this year. Saku Koivu's been hurt again and won't make fifty points, possibly not even forty. While I agree those guys would have brought some assets back at the trade deadline, the team was in contention for a playoff spot every year it had notable pending UFAs. In that situation, it's almost impossible for a GM to admit his team will get killed in the playoffs and sell assets. Gainey stood pat and hoped the lineup he had could surprise people, then he lost those guys to the market. In the end, it appeared Gainey might have got nothing for them except free cap space. On the plus side, though, it seems Gainey knows when a player has peaked out in Montreal and has rarely regretted a decision not to keep a player.
-Kovalchuk to Boston would be the best thing that could happen for the Habs. The Bs would have to give up one of their possible two lottery picks as well as assets to get him. It's debatable whether one player, even one as good as Kovalchuk, could turn their season around. And the chances are decent-to-good that Kovalchuk will price himself out of Boston this summer anyway. I think a Kovalchuk deal could hurt the Bruins more than help them, and anything that's bad for Boston is good for Montreal.
-If there's a market for Jason Blake and if Dion Phaneuf's contract can move, surely there must be some team that can take on Scott Gomez. Gomez' contract is the big stumbling block to moving the Canadiens fortunes forward. I know what Gainey was trying to accomplish with the trade. He hoped Gomez would revive his career with Gionta and both would return to their New Jersey form. With big doubts about Plekanec's ability to rebound as a top-line centre, the Habs were looking at starting the season with nobody in that role. Of course, it hasn't worked out for Montreal. Not that Gomez is a bad player, but his salary is unbearable. As a modestly-priced second-line centre, he'd be a great asset, but that's not the reality of the current situation. I'm looking at teams that will have money and will need a good centre to complement a star winger. Nashville has cap space, but the quality of its wingers isn't enough to make Gomez succeed. The Isles have space and might need to upgrade on Doug Weight at centre. Phoenix has room too, and you have to think Gomez would look pretty good with Doan on his right. Ironically, the Thrashers will have lots of space with Kovalchuk gone, but will have traded away the player who'd work best with Gomez. If Gainey's willing to take anything for Gomez, I can't believe the contract is untradeable. There *are* possibilities.