Saturday, May 03, 2008

Worst. Deadline Deal. EVAAARRRR.

Bob Gainey has done a lot of things well. He selected Carey Price over Gilbert Brule in 2005, a move widely criticized at that time. He also managed to pick up Guillaume Latendresse in the 2nd round that year. Selecting Ryan McDonagh, despite the pressure to pick up local boy select Angelo Esposito seems to have turned out well, at least in early stages. The move to let Souray walk, while signing Hamerlik seems to have paid dividends one year later. He did a good job assembling good young talent, enough so to lead the Habs to a Conference title in 2007-2008.

But Bob Gainey may have singlehandedly killed the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup push.

By trading the Habs number one goaltender, Cristobal Huet, at the trade deadline for a mere 2009 second round draft pick.

Ugly, ugly, ugly!

The deal has all the writings of a seller, not a buyer. I told my good friend then, a die-hard Habs fan, that I didn't like this deal. I don't like it now either.

One can already legitimately argue the Habs should have been more aggressive in the Marian Hossa sweepstakes, who went for 2 depth players, 1 bottom four first round draft pick, and a sinking prospect. However, other sides can legitimately counter this opinion.

I don't believe anyone can however, defend the Huet deal.

He was the Habs number one goalie, who played 39 games, posting a very respectable .916 SV%. In Washington, he posted a remarkable .936 SV% in 13 regular season games, and an .909 SV% in 7 playoff games.

EVEN if the Habs wished to throw a 20 year old Carey Price to the wolves, it would have made sense to keep the insurance policy intact.

They didn't. Jaroslav Halak is NOT a respectable insurance policy.

And now, the Habs are swimming in their own tears.

It didn't have to turn out this way.

Bob Gainey should legitimately feel the heat this summer.


mike w said...

Looks like he had Carey Price pegged as a Number One premature by at least six months. (Although it has to be said that the rest of the Habs shoulder much of the blame in the Philly series).

From what my Habs friends tell me, Gainey had a 1, 2, 3-round picks lined up for Sundin, with Huet clearing some cap space, but it fell through.

I'm too lazy to verify this, but the Huet for a 2nd rounder was indeed ridiculous.

agb said...

I thought Gainey traded Huet thinking he had Hossa in the bag. The only way this deal could make sense is if Huet was a cap dump, otherwise it's impossible to defend.

PunjabiOil said...

Mike W: Sundin had already mentioned a few days before the trade deadline that he would not waive it.

The value returned for Huet isn't bad - a 2nd round pick in 2009, said to be one of the deepest drafts in ages.

It's the fact that you don't get too many chances. Your team is contending for the conference title, playing great hockey - at some point, you have to get aggressive because the chance may never come again. So in that sense, Montreal fell behind when Pittsburgh put up a semi-decent proposal and nabbed Hossa.

Trading Huet makes little sense, for a buyer. Huet was set to be a UFA after the season, so the trade isn't something we'd expect from a buyer.

Now agb's comment might be on to something. Perhaps Gainey did NEED to shed some cap space to fit in Hossa. Can someone verify this? Hossa's salary was 6M correct? That would effectively be ~1.3-1.4M cap hit for the rest of the season at the trade deadline. Not sure if it was absolutely neccessary to move Huet.

Another theory is that Gainey wanted to show confidence in Huet, and wanted to avoid any goaltending controversey. I don't neccessary buy into this.

It would be interesting to get Gainey's take on this deal.

LittleFury said...

I remember reading shortly after deadline day that Gainey had Hossa in the bag, but Atlanta unexpectedly upped their price. Gainey balked and Hossa went to Pittsburgh for significantly less than what Montreal was offering. It's possible the Huet deal was already in place by then, but it doesn't seem too likely that an NHL GM would count his chickens like that. On it's own, I don't think it's a bad deal value wise. And in the broad context of the team going forward, giving Price some playoff time can't be a bad thing, even if the result was disappointing. Price's play down the stretch seemed to justify the call.

The thing about the Huet deal is if the Habs make the conference finals, it's suddenly a very good deal. Price imploded and the Habs fell victim to some outrageous bounces (they must have hit a hundred posts and everything the Flyers put on net found a way in), but I have a hard time believing Huet would have been the answer, given the fact he was the guy who the Flyers beat to get the match up with Montreal.

The Habs are in a weird spot right now: neither fish nor fowl. They've got youth on their side, but their top end talent is guys like Kovalev and Koivu who are mighty long in the tooth. They'll definitely be an interesting team to watch this summer. Maybe they'd be willing to take Roli?

Jonathan said...

Maybe they'd be willing to take Roli?

Maybe they'd even be willing to send Halak back the other way. ;)