Friday, February 5, 2010

Kovalchuk

So, Darren Dreger said on TSN last night that the Canadiens were one of the teams making a serious offer for Ilya Kovalchuk as bidding came down to the wire. Gainey was right in there with Uncle Lou in New Jersey, he reported. Dreger has a lot of sources around the league, and he's not generally a rumour monger for the sake of creating rumours. So I'll go with the theory that he knows what he's talking about and Gainey was actually close to acquring Kovy II. Does this scare the crap out of anyone else, or is it just me?

Honestly, what does Bob Gainey see on the ice that we don't? It's obviously something better than most of us perceive, because if one out of ten Habs fans think this team should be deadline buyers this year, I'd be amazed. The idea of a team that barely dragged itself into eighth last year, and will be lucky to do it again this year, is looking to buy an expensive rental is absolutely unfathomable.

I can't imagine who Gainey would have been able to trade for Kovalchuk, considering the Habs' cap restraints and general shortage of valuable players with whom they can afford to part. Unless he was close to dumping the Gomez contract in Atlanta, it doesn't even make sense. The Habs should be either standing pat right now, or trading for picks and prospects because the team, as it exists at the moment, is not a contender. It's not even close to being a contender, and adding an expensive rental like Kovalchuk would not miraculously heal the multitude of ills keeping the Canadiens from consistency. Kovalchuk might help with even-strength scoring, but he wouldn't improve the often-porous defence or make the support players be tougher to play against. Those are the simple fixes Gainey must consider right now. Buying another big name for big money is something teams do when they're pretty sure they can win the Cup and are willing to trade the future for victory right now.

The Habs are not that team. Admitting that, after so many years of frustration, is difficult enough. If Bob Gainey can't see that, and thinks going all-in is a good idea, I really fear for the future as well.

18 comments:

RiRi said...

Completely agree, J.T. They are no where near a contender so why would BG bother giving up prospects (like Subban, because you know ATL would have asked) for a rental?

Also, instead of focusing on Kovalchuck, shouldn`t BG start prepping Pleky`s contract? Isn`t the market for free agent centers slim this summer? Assuming BG doesn`t resign Plekanec and Gomez takes first line duty, who is the 2nd line center? Lapierre? Scary.

Grrrreg said...

I fully agree with you. Right now the habs should either stand still or sell (no need to gut the team, but they can definitely sell someone if there is a proper offer).

Anonymous said...

Dreger doesn't impress me that much. I seriously doubt that Gainey would have tried to rent Kovalchuk. It would have set the franchise back another three or four years.

24 Cups said...

JT - That last post was from me.

24 Cups

kyleroussel said...

I was chatting with a buddy last night and when I caught wind that Gainey was a dark horse, I wanted to cry.

If the reports that Gainey was ready to give up Plekanec, Subban and Price for Lecavalier were true, then I shudder to think what he would have sacrificed for Kovalchuk. Heck, he threw in McDonagh for no reason in the Gomez trade.

I am elated that Waddell took the Devils' deal.

David said...

I know and accept we are not a contender this year, but has anyone noticed some karma points coming around in Montreal's favour these days?

The Traitor a bust in t.o.
The Traitor hurt and done for the season
The Bruins experiencing the same post-number-one-in-the-conference hangover as we did last year
Michael Ryder showing his true colours
Claude Julien possibly in trouble in beantown (although I hear he's a nice guy)

And to finally address your post, I too am alarmed that Gainey may have been trying for Kovalchuk. I hope it's not true. I LOVE the fact that NJ traded for him because I honestly don't think they'll be better off in the long run. They've given up 3-4 players for one of two things: a rental, or long-term ball-and-chain contract if they want to resign him. I don't think either scenario is good for them. I consider this another thing that's played out in our favour.

I think there are other things too (Higgins a bust in NY) but I can't think of them right now...

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Gainey, but I have alot of trouble believing that he'd be willing to wager the future on a UFA rental, when they potentially could be sellers at the deadline. As much as I wish Bob will move on after this year, I don't think it's in him to burn the house behind him. AKost is coming back after the break, and Cammi might be back if the habs eke into the playoffs. Let's give him a little credit, shall we?

dusty said...

Lou got Kovalchuk as a rental only. He has no intention of trying to sign him. He's trying to win the Cup this year and gave up nothing for him and even got rid of Cormier. The guys a genius. Waddell has bought his ticket out of town with this deal.

Bob on the other hand would want Kovalchuk for the future, a true star player the Habs haven't had since Lafleur. If he was indeed in the bidding, which I doubt, he was just curious to see what Atlanta wanted for the right to negotiate with him. He'll wait fo July 1.

Anvilcloud said...

Let's not get too heated over a rumor, folks.

I think Gainey's major blunders have been his choies for coach, although he has been hampered by the constraints of the language factor. Hopefully, Boucher is the long term solution because I don't think many of us are thrilled with JM's system (choke, cough, splutter).

Mr Trivia said...

I trust Dreger, but doubt BG was a serious bidder. I expect he was kicking the tires, like Ottawa and St-Louis.

If he was talking with Waddell, he might've been willing to part with Gomez, or Hamrlik and a prospect or pick. Less a post-season push than a salary dump.

And in the end - Bob didn't make the trade. We shouldn't fault him for inquiring.

Leila said...

I agree with 24 Cups. There's no way Gainey would trade for a rental. My problem with Darren Dreger is that he works for TSN and I'm not always sure of their motives when they report stories. We all know how they love giving attention to Toronto and if that doesn't work there's always the Habs as second best. For this particular story that might have been the case.

Another theory: if Bob wouldn't trade for a rental he might have spoken with Markov about the possibility of signing Kovalchuk. Nobody really knows whether he'll even stay in the NHL but some of his fellow countrymen might know of his plans.

It really doesn't hurt to make an offer to Atlanta, in fact, it's only fair for one GM to make an offer to another. If anything, Gainey's offer can work like a bid at an auction and drive up the price. It doesn't mean it's going to work or that he's serious but it can help Atlanta. They might return the favour someday. Just a thought.

MathMan said...

It worries me to no end that the Habs may have someone in the organization that thinks the Habs should be Kovalchuk buyers at this stage of the season, especially since he'd be a pure rental and would never sign in Montreal. Whoever it is they should be removed from the org before they can do long-term damage to it.

As you point out, this is a team that managed bare respectability because of goaltending. Yes, the argument can be made that the roster is much stronger than it's showing and just badly used, but there's no time left to fix that part. A player like Kovalchuk would just go to waste in Montreal's ball-and-chain system, and would be a deal that'd be regretted for 2-3 years.

I really don't like that it raises the scepter of another possible "buyer" move. Especially when the Habs should be thinking about what to do with a guy who'd be the best rental scorer on the market with Kovalchuk gone, namely Plekanec.

V said...

Couple of comments...

I have no idea if this is a factor because I just don't know enough about the cap - bores me to tears - and I wonder if with all the injuries we had enough cap relief this year to take Kovalchuk on this season without trading much salary to accomodate him.

Second, I hear people complaining about our defense (11th in GA/G) but it seems our offence (28th in G/G) is the real problem and Kovalchuk likely would have helped there.

Third, I doubt Gainey was offering much to Atlanta because he lost to New Jersey (assuming he was in the bidding in the first place). Whatever he came up with was likely less than what Atlanta settled on - maybe a lot less. So fears we might have been offering Subban may be overheated.

Fourth, can we stop assuming that Gainey is not negotiating with Pleks. No one knows what Gainey is and is not doing. In a business that is notoriously close-lipped (no one saw the Phaneuf trade coming for instance and that involved two of the biggest mouths in the NHL), BG is cloaked in silence and stealth.

Fifth, I don't see how McDonagh was thrown into the Gomez trade 'for no reason'. I don't envision BG saying, 'well great, it's a deal. And for your trouble I'm going to give you one of our top prospects. No, don't need anything in return. Just enjoy.' On another note, with Higgins gone from New York, the Rangers have no one currently playing with their team that came over in exchange for one of our better players.

Incidently, in response to something I have seen often... that the Rangers turned around and got Gaborik with the cap space is irrelevent - that was completely beyond Gainey's control. If you want a player (and by all statements I heard, he wanted Gomez), you can't hold on the deal because you might enable the other guy to do something you rather they did not do (if it was a 2 team league you would, but not with 28 teams)... they'll just do a deal with someone else and you won't get the player you want.

Now, how is that for ramblings... back to work.

Paul B. said...

You can't blame a guy (Gainey) for asking. The girl (in this case Waddell) can say no...

moeman said...

We can all speculate that Bob talked to Waddell but I don't trust a single thing dregger says about the Habs.

dusty said...

If Bob made a bid for Kovalchuk and lost out to the Devils I can just imagine Gainey's offer. Gorges, D'Agostini, Pyatt and a draft pick (which would be better than New Jersey' pick). That's a deal I would make in a heartbeat for 25 games of excitement. No way Subban was offered or the Devils wouldn't have been the better offer.

Shan said...

Gainey was just feeling sad and Kovy-less.

Number31 said...

Every team went for Kovy2 so it's not a stretch to think Bob didn't. When I heard their GM complain about how people wanted to dump bad contracts on him it probably was something about Gomez. Hey, Bob had to give it a shot even if he knew there was no way in hell Atlanta would agree with it. I'm glad he didn't come here. Sometimes Kovalchuk can be more aggravating than the older Kovy, and at like 5 times the pricetag...

One thing that I am sure of: you'll never hear Bob send out a press release essentially saying that the player downright turned down the bazillion-dollar deal to stay in what sounded like an attempt to turn their fanbase against the player. That sounded pretty bush league to me. Bob's version of that would have been a simple "we tried to negociate, it didn't work out". It's no one's business what they tried to offer.