Wednesday, July 1, 2009


So, what do you want to bet Chris Higgins won't be hitting the post on his first breakaway against Carey Price?

My head says I should give Bob Gainey a chance; that maybe the Higgins/Gomez trade doesn't stink as much as my first instinct says it does. But I just can't dismiss that first instinct. It makes no sense to me. At all. There are so many things to hate about the deal.

First of all, I think Higgins had just found his groove at the end of last season, and he was shaping up to be the kind of player who helps a team win big, shiny, silver trophies. His speed, his ability on the PK and his relentless forecheck made him a great third-line winger.

Then there's Ryan McDonagh. I loved the pick in the draft two years ago, and I had high hopes for him as a Hab. He's developing into a well-rounded defenceman who plays a different style from the other D prospects in the system, and will eventually be a very good NHL player. With Higgins, that makes two first-round picks gone in the Gomez deal.

There's the salary. Gomez' contract is horrible. He's a 7.357-million cap hit for the next five years when the cap is expected to drop next season. I know Gainey's got a lot of money to play with, but this trade means other players...players we like...won't fit under the cap now.

There's Gomez himself. He's getting paid a number-one centre's salary, but he's not a number-one centre. He's living off the results of one 33-goal season, but in the three years since, he's put up 13, 16 and 16 goals, with totals of 60, 70 and a whopping 58 points. He's also not a big guy. He's a little bit taller and heavier than Saku Koivu, and he puts up similar numbers for double the price. He's a player who chose to sign in New York, and who wanted to stay there. I think he's got little interest in giving his all for the Canadiens.

And finally, there's the awful timing of this trade. With free agency opening in a few hours, Gainey has helped Glen Sather out by giving him eight million in cap space so he can go shopping. At the same time, he's limiting his own options by doing this now. Mike Komisarek is still trying to decide whether he'll re-sign in Montreal, and Higgins' departure takes away one incentive for him to do that. Gainey could have waited to see how things go down today before making the deal, and then decided if he still wanted to go ahead with it, or instead found a better deal on the market. It reminds me too much of the Sergei Samsonov signing. Gainey brought Samsonov in as plan C on July 1, then ended up having no money to spend when the Sabres failed to sign JP Dumont a few days later.

Maybe somewhere, there's good in this trade. Maybe Gomez' presence will help attract a good UFA or two to Montreal. Despite his numbers, when you hear his name you think of a good player, and it's always fun to play with good players. Maybe Gainey means to send Higgins an offer sheet in New York and steal him back. But honestly, I'm having a really hard time finding the good here.

I think this is a really bad trade and I think the fans in Montreal will make Scott Gomez' life miserable when he puts up 60 points while making eight million bucks this year. If he's still a Hab three years from now, I'll be surprised. I won't be surprised, however, to see Chris Higgins' next hat trick scored against the visitors from Montreal. That's always the way it seems to go, isn't it?

Good luck Scott Gomez. You're going to need it. Bob Gainey, you wuz robbed.


Anonymous said...

JT -While its difficult to ignore the majority of the hockey world that says this is a bad deal for the Habs, I have to think there's more to it than meets the eye. BG is not that reckless and he would have consulted the Habs brain trust before pulling the switch.

The key piece here is McDonagh; why would we have bailed on him? The only logical reason is that he is not developing as we expected; BG is playing his card that this kid is not all he's cracked up to be. Plus, he's 3 years out of a regular shift in the NHL. That's a long time in Hab years. Its not like BG offered up McDonagh, Sather wanted him in the deal.

Listening to Hab fans right now is painful. Everyone has been screaming for change and now that its begun, cold feet everywhere.

We are going to ice a better team in October - and the day is not done. Who knows who is joining Gomez??? Hab fans will be singing a different tune if we land a few more notables today.

In the end, I'll take Gomez over Higgins and not fret over McDonagh. And forget the cap issue - we are not going to improve by not spending money.

DB said...

Montreal paid a premium price for a distressed asset. Gomez is overpaid and this should be reflected in his trade value. I would have expected that a team trading for Gomez would have given a lesser talented player in return for assuming his contract.

Instead, by including McDonagh in the trade the Habs paid a premium. Even if McDonagh has not developed as fast as the Habs expected he was still considered a top prospect. As such the Habs should have beem able to get more for him in a trade.

Since the deal is done All I can do now is hope that Gomez returns to form.

Darren Bifford said...

J.T., I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say about that now-unmentionable Komisarek. I was just talking to a cab driver here in TO (a horrible city). He's not happy with the trade--nor am I, but for different reasons. I liked MK, but mainly, I think, for leadership qualities. When I think about his actual performance, I recall to what extent he fell apart with Markov was not at his side. In fact, he was brutal. So perhaps this is not such a great loss.

Woodvid said...

I'm really wondering if Bob just wants to get fired. 'Cause I think he will be by the end of this season unless Gomez and his new fellow smurfs put up some big numbers.

I'm at the point where I want to just go and cheer for Pittsburgh or something, but those nights of watching the great habs teams of the late 70s on HNIC as a kid are so ingrained in me that I don't know if I can ever quit the Habs. Ugh, indeed.