Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Price for Price

Carey Price is unquestionably one of the best goaltenders in the world right now.  He's a Vezina and Hart Trophy winner. He led Canada to Olympic gold. He was a high first-round draft pick and a world junior gold medalist. The man is the real deal; a legit superstar.

The only prize of significance Price has yet to win is the Stanley Cup. And one can argue he never will as long as he's in Montreal. General manager Marc Bergevin has had five years to take advantage of Price's prime and build a championship calibre team around him. Most would agree he's failed to do that. The Habs are not the Penguins or Blackhawks. That's why now is the right time to trade Price.

The Canadiens have been trying to improve at the centre position for years now, but due to poor first-round drafting and suspect development of its prospects, the club has stagnated. A big reason for that is a chronic lack of tradeable assets. When you draft mediocre players it's tough to move them for players of greater value. You can't trade draft picks when you need them desperately yourself. And, when the roster is full of underperformers, it means potential trade partners want more than the diminutive winger who hasn't scored in twelve games with whom you're willing to part.

To really gain, you have to give, and the Canadiens have little to give that would bring a significant return. The one enticing piece they could offer right now is Price. Even though he struggled for a lengthy period this season and has missed serious time with injuries in the last couple of years, his reputation as one of the best money goalies in the league persists. Teams close to a Cup, but missing that security in net, would be potential trade partners and the return would be high.

There is a compelling case to move Price now. First of all, as a butterfly-style goalie with a history of joint injuries, his body's warranty is not unlimited. Turning thirty this summer, he may have two years or five of healthy play ahead of him. He may also end up with a debilitating injury in training camp next fall. He's not infallible and if he's hurt long-term, he's no good to the Canadiens and his return in a trade will drop precipitously.

The second issue the Canadiens will have with Price is his next contract. He's got one year left with a cap hit of 6.5-million dollars, which, when you consider his role on the team and his contributions to it, is extremely reasonable. However, after next year, he'll be looking for lifetime security. He doesn't know, any more than we do, how long his body will hold up. At 31, a five or six-year deal will take him into his declining years even if he remains healthy. So, he'll likely be looking for the kind of money most teams' best players make. That's not unfair, but Bergevin has to be careful about ending up in a Luongo trap.

Back in 2010, the Canucks signed Luongo to a twelve-year, 64-million dollar contract. At the same time, a young Corey Schneider was proving himself as an up-and-coming star. The Canucks would have loved to move Luongo to save the cap space and make room for Schneider, but the former's contract made him untradeable. In the end, Schneider got traded because he needed to play to fulfill his potential. Later when the collective bargaining agreement allowed salary retention, Luongo went to Florida and the Canucks ended up with neither of their star goalies; replacing them with an aging Ryan Miller and three out of the last four years with no playoffs.

The Canadiens now are in a situation in which the goalie is the undisputed best player on the team. That means he has the most value. Watching the team in this playoff, in which one or two goals against are enough to lose a game, it's proof Price needs to go in exchange for a variety of pieces that will improve the team. After all, teams have won the Cup with decent, not star, goalies. But they've rarely won with ONLY a goalie.

So, what's fair value for Price? Any team trading for him must, at the very least, offer its first-round pick. Then, considering the Habs dearth of useful prospects, there must be two solid prospect offers. One on forward and one on defence. A third-or-fourth line NHLer wouldn't be out of the equation either.

Any way you look at it, Price's time of usefulness is coming to an end. A smart GM would realize that a team's best player can't be its goalie without other players to back him up. On the other hand, you CAN have a solid team with a merely decent goalie. If Bergevin can come to the logical conclusion, Price will move and the return for him will be the foundation of the next Cup.


dra58 said...

I agree with everything you have said but I am afraid that the ill informed fan or the french press will make it hard pressure wise for M/B to do the right thing and trade him when he is at his peak. M/B should conjure up the stones he used last Summer when he traded PK for Weber and do the same with Price. He should remember that the ultimate goal is to win and if like he has said that the Habs logo is more important than the players then he owes it to both Price and the players and the fans and the team to make a huge trade where he IS giving something to Get something. I like Price and don't blame our loss on him but Henry matched him game for game and our offense never showed up. Don't blame Patches either as goal scorers are streaky and this was a bad time for a cold streak but maybe people will remember he is being payed handsomely NOT crazy to score goals so relax. It is a team game and 1 person does not carry a team to the cup a team does hence the reason to trade Price. Please fans don't jump on me for this thought or run Price out of town either but think of him as currency or a poker chip that can turn our team into a real contender. I am afraid if we cling to him for too long and end up paying stupidly for his services on his next contract we will be like Chicago is starting to look like in a cap strap world where almost 28% of their cap money is tied up to 2 players and the rest of the roster will suffer going forward. They have done well up to now because they had those players under manageable contracts but now they are paying the price (no pun intended) for keeping them too long and we could to if we don't move him for more affordable, quality, cap friendly goal scorers. By the way I have missed your comments for a long while now.

Harry said...

Hi-Glad you are back .
I like Price,but the club needs skilled forwards more than they need Carey.
I would like to see Max sent packing-perhaps MT was correct when he said(or did not say) that he was the worst captain in Habs history,and maybe Torts was correct also,remember team USA and Max.
Could you imagine Gallagher in Max's body-man what heart but he does not have the size or skill to go with it.
I think it is time to clean house starting with MB and all his supporting cast,even all the coaches etc of the Ahl team.
Make Julien the general manager,how much worse could he be and he is bilingual.

However in reality it will be the same old thing starting with the 'presser' where we hear the same old thing again and again and we will be a middle of the pack team again next year and on and on and on....maybe N8 will be lucky and get traded...

Habs since 1960. said...

JT, for those of us older types that don't use Twitter, we ,is your posts on this blog. Please write more here! I agree that we need to kind of blow this thing up. Price and Patches to start with but I would not yet give up on Galchenyuk. He needs good coaching and after his wretched experience with MT, detox could take some time. Same with Beaulieu who has the talent but never the confidence of his coaches. I am still so frustrated by the Subban trade as we can now see that Weber is far from the answer to the promised land. Solid defender but not a game changer and when we needed creativity from the back end that Subban so capably provided, it was nowhere to be seen. Now we will suffer the Weber cap effect for a player not worth the money for so many years to come. And how does a team with so little offence leave players like Hudson, Scherbak and Terry in the AHL without giving them a shot? Thank heaven we had that other winning adqusition, Shaw, who hates to lose but contributed little during the season and less during the playoffs. Bergevin no longer has the right to keep this franchise down and should be replaced as an abject failure since we are no farther ahead than when he got here. He should have fired MT and kept Subban, and. now he must pay so the Habs can regain some hope. Last word - I am happy that CJ is coaching but he is the guy who left offence in the AHL and played useless guys like King throughout the series, and played seriously idiotic mind games with Galchenyuk, who by the time he got to play with the cement hands on the fourth line, must have needed therapy. JT gets a pass as he just got here, but he needs to better deploy his assets, fe was they are right now.

Mike Safoniuk said...

I've missed your blogs JT.

The question becomes who could we reasonably get in return. I'd like to think I had a good perspective on who they could get in return but really, like most, I probably trade like a EA Sports NHL 17 computer :-)

Some quick thoughts:

Would Colorado give up Duchene & their first (1, 2, or 3) for Price & Beaulieu? Is that fair? Do the Habs dare trade another star goalie to the Avalanche? The Avalanche aren't really a contender and Price wouldn't suddenly make them that either. That would also mean Lindgren as a starter (or free agent Bishop? for a stop-gap) in Montreal.

Dallas? We's have to take a goalie back. 1st round draft (somewhere between 4 and 8), Lehtonen, Seguin for Price and 2nd rounder? Lehtonen is a UFA after the year.

Calgary? Monahan (signed for a lot more years) and a couple of picks straight up for Price?

I like to think about what the Habs could do. The truth though is I don't think Price moves anywhere. Bergeron seems to be tied in to the idea that Price is the only way they can have success (and frankly he's not wrong at the moment). The only way I see Price moved is if 1) Bergeron is fired and the new GM is specifically told to blow up the team and rebuild it (highly doubt that) or 2) Price's demands are bonkers come July 1 when he can negotiate an extension (and I highly doubt that Bergeron would balk at whatever Price asks). Of course there is also the history, not too distant, of the Habs trading a star goalie.