Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I guess playing the waiting game pays off

In a summer where players, both of the UFA variety as well those who are restricted, are getting absurd contracts, Habs GM Bob Gainey looks to have pulled a fast one on the rest of the league. While many of his peers blew their financial brains out, getting caught up in the free agent frenzy two weeks ago, Gainey bided his time and waited for the right deal.

It looks to have paid off.

The Canadiens signed Sergei Samsonov Wednesday to a very reasonable two-year, $7.05 million deal.

That's right, a contract that doesn't make you do a spit take and wonder what the people involved were on when they drew it up.

Given what guys like Pavel Kubina ($5 million per year), Martin Havlat ($6 million), and Brian Pothier ($2.5 million) were able to convince obviously intoxicated NHL executives to give them, I was expecting Samsonov to command upwards of $5 million.

He's a dynamic, exciting, explosive player who can take over a game, and is tailor-made for the new NHL and the rules that encompass it. Where previously, his lack of size was a detriment, Samsonov's small frame now suits the game perfectly.

This isn't to suggest there aren't risks involved. Samsonov has been known to have consistency issues and has battled injury troubles throughout his career. But at $3.5 mil, it's a roll of the dice I would've thought every GM would take any day of the week. The upside of what he could bring far outweighs the negatives attached.

Earlier in the day, Gainey improved the Habs by unloading slacker Richard Zednik and bringing in Mike Johnson, improving his draft status in the process. Zednik is a talented player, but has spurts of invisibility that cannot be explained, and often he seems to possess nothing remotely resembling desire. He did some good things in La Belle Province, but it was time to move on.

In Johnson, they get a tremendously gifted playmaker who, I would think, will be able to be the set up man for Michael Ryder that Mike Ribeiro couldn't be. He's not a hard-nosed player, but his offensive talents are needed on a team that struggled to score goals last season Johnson will provide offence, that much is for sure. Leave the hitting to the others.

I heard lots of calls from frustrated Habs fans, angry their guardian was on the sidelines watching every other team at least make an attempt to get better. Gainey waited them all out and, in the course of about 12 hours, drastically improved his team, and didn't cripple the club financially in the process.

Show 'em how it's done.

11 Comments:

At 11:46 PM, Anonymous TomD said...

Samasov would have been a nice gain for the Sens...at 3.5mill I think he was just outside our limit.

Well that is another name off of my shortlist.

 
At 11:57 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

I'd say he's more than "just outside" the limit. The Sens have, at best, $2 million to play with, assuming they want to cut it that close, which I don't believe they do.

 
At 12:36 AM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

For a somewhat one-dimensional, somewhat injury prone player who hasn't scored more than 25 goals or 55 points since 2001-02, $3.5 million per year isn't what I would call cheap. For less than that you could have gotten Anson Carter who aside from a disappointing 2003-04 year has been a regular 25-30 goal, 55-60 point guy and does bring more to the table than just skill. But then, compared to the guy they overpaid for last year (Kovalev) I guess this deal for Samsonov isn't so bad.

 
At 12:43 AM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Injury prone isn't a fair label. He had one year where he missed a lot, but over his career:

73 GP
81 GP
79 GP
77 GP
82 GP
74 GP
8 GP
58 GP
74 GP

Carter's four years older as well, yet only 24 GP in the playoffs.

If I had to chose between the two, it wouldn't even be a no brainer. Samsonov every time.

 
At 1:54 AM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

Injury prone might be a bit strong of a label but he hasn't played more than 74 games in 4 years. That is why I said 'somewhat' injury prone. But the fact is he has never scored 30 goals, even playing beside one of the best players in the NHL. Look what Thornton did for Cheechoo. He isn't going to be playing with anyone near that talent level in Montreal. He'l get another 20-25 goals, ~55 points next year while playing a soft game (due to his size) and mediocre defense. Not really worth $3.5 million in my mind.

 
At 10:47 AM, Blogger girlysportsrant said...

Proves again that no matter what economic system in place, it still takes a great GM to be successful.
The salary cap was supposed to protect owners and GMs from themselves, but you see that the stupidity still reigns.

Great move by Gainey. I'm sure he's got his eye on a few more bargains whereas teams like Boston Toronto, and Ottawa have blown their load.

Buffalo's been quiet.. wonder what they're up to.

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Donald said...

the Ottawa Sun reports that the Sens could be interested in Greg Johnson (former Nashville Pred) to add depth in the middle and move Vermette to the wing. Looks to me like another Arnason. Any comment?

 
At 12:06 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

Buffalo's been quiet.. wonder what they're up to.

I think they have their hands full with all those RFAs to sign. We still haven't heard what their self-imposed cap will be, but I can't see them spending over $35 million. Apparently their fans are concerned about the team's ability to re-sign Max Afinogenov.

the Ottawa Sun reports that the Sens could be interested in Greg Johnson (former Nashville Pred) to add depth in the middle and move Vermette to the wing. Looks to me like another Arnason. Any comment?

To be honest, I haven't seen all that much of Johnson, just because of where he's played, but his rep is that of a third or fourth line center who can kill penalties, win faceoffs, and play both ends of the ice. Not really what we need as far as I'm concerned.

I'd rather Muckler save the money, start the team with the squad we have, and then add someone at some point in the season.

Signing Johnson would seem, to me anyway, to be a signing for the sake of one.

 
At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot that Johnson will be cheap, has tons of speed, is a veteran and leader in the dressing room (a former captain).

 
At 1:23 PM, Blogger CMcMurtry said...

"Cheap" is open to interpretation. He made a million bucks last year and is seeking a multi-year deal. If he can be had for, say, $600K, I'd listen, but otherwise, doesn't seem to address the needs of this club.

Do we really need another third/fourth line center? We have three of them already.

Sure, he's a veteran and can provide leadership, but at what cost?

He's a 35 year old guy who, according to those who see him more often than we do, has lost a lot of that speed with his aging.

 
At 5:01 PM, Anonymous TomD said...

No Chris has got the Johnson issue dead on...as far as I am concerned, if we wanted a "Johnson" we would have kept Smolinski

what we need is a proven top six forward...get that and our line-up would arguably be even more robust than last season.

 

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