By JAG – Being a Habs’ fan is emotionally exhausting! It really is! The last season was a dreadful tale of sorrow only slightly mitigated by a few, somewhat exciting, trades and the faint promises of better days under Martin St-Louis. By the way, I really hope the Montreal press doesn’t make him a Saint as they have with other potential saviours in the past. Calling him St-Martin St-Louis would be awkward, wouldn’t it? Is it a street corner in Montreal, I don’t know? …. But I diverge!
Back to the topic. The summer hiatus snapped the tale of sorrow with a gleeful bang! Great picks were had and a very intriguing trade for a BIG centerman made the draft a really great show to watch indeed! Man, I was hyped for a week!
The following free agency period was not expected to be eventful …. And it wasn’t! The Habs made a few relevant additions and resigned Rem Pitlick at a fair price. Fair results considering the Cap space situation. Trading Petry for Matheson was a ‘’coup’’ in my book so I was rather happy. After living in constant sorrow for a full season and experiencing complete glee at the draft, I started July in a very OK mood.
Lately though, things have gotten worse. The sad reality of the Habs situation slowly gnawed away at my measured optimism. Cap issues and LTIR uncertainties, compounded by overpaid underperforming aging athletes amount to nothing less than a gigantic headache! I keep looking at the CapFriendly starting line-up for forwards and my heart bleeds Bleu Blanc Rouge!
Sorrow, glee, OK mood and now, total despair! As I said before, being a Habs fan is emotionally exhausting!
Just take a look at the Montreal line-up posted on August 09-22
|LW||22||Caufield, Cole||LW, RW||21||R||5’7″||170||$880,833||RFA 2023|
|C||14||Suzuki, Nick||C||22||R||5’11”||205||$7,875,000||UFA 2030|
|RW||68||Hoffman, Mike||LW, RW||32||L||6’0″||182||$4,500,000||UFA 2024|
|LW||92||Drouin, Jonathan||LW, RW, C||27||L||6’0″||203||$5,500,000||UFA 2023|
|C||28||Dvorak, Christian||C, LW||26||L||6’1″||200||$4,450,000||UFA 2025|
|RW||17||Anderson, Josh||RW, LW||28||R||6’3″||227||$5,500,000||UFA 2027|
|LW||63||Dadonov, Evgeni||RW, LW||33||L||5’11”||185||$5,000,000||UFA 2023|
|C||77||Dach, Kirby||C, RW||21||R||6’4″||197||RFA 2022|
|RW||11||Gallagher, Brendan||RW||30||R||5’9″||184||$6,500,000||UFA 2027|
|LW||32||Pitlick, Rem||LW, C||25||L||5’11”||196||$1,100,000||UFA 2024|
|C||71||Evans, Jake||C, RW||26||R||6’0″||190||$1,700,000||UFA 2025|
|RW||40||Armia, Joel||RW, LW||29||R||6’4″||218||$3,400,000||UFA 2025|
This is at best a Band-Aid line-up, started by Bergevin and getting a fix on the run by the new management.
This line-up doesn’t fit the stated philosophy nor the short terms objectives of the organization. It doesn’t even include Juraj Slafkovsky! The Cap is almost maxed out, Kirby Dach is not signed and there is no room whatsoever for a young guy to crack the line-up. Moreover, even though it is full of veteran, the average age being 26.7 years old, it is NOT a winning line-up … AT ALL!
It’s last season’s déjà vu all over again! Something’s gotta give! And preferably before the season starts.
IS KEEPING THIS STARTING LINE-UP REALLY AN OPTION?
There are two major arguments for keeping this group intact and there is some value to them.
- First, some people say that keeping players until the trade deadline will increase their value …. Or NOT!
- Second, some people also say that it’s worth to wait and see what magic Martin St-Louis can summon to spur a revival in several fading or underachieving careers, I believe they call them ‘’projects’’ and BTW, many miracles are expected to happen …. Or NOT!
Neither statements will come to 100% fruition. Players get slower, they get injured, they may not have the proper line mates or they may not be a right fit for the kind of hockey being played in Montreal. In short, regardless of the coach’s miracles, some players’ value will go up and some will definitely go down. Waiting for increased value is a guessing game that can backfire badly…. And as far as we know, Kent Hughes doesn’t have a crystal ball in working order to see the future. Tough decisions are on the horizon!
The fact of the matter is that the lack of Cap space is a lot more impactful than just a passing headache. It is and has been an on-going source of lost opportunities for the Habs. It is bad business! Just look at what the Hurricanes did with their Cap space availability. Just for this, it must be addressed.
And if you think that if Carey Price goes on LTIR, problems will be solved, you’re dreaming! It’s just smoke and mirrors, it only creates Cap space with strings attached and it most certainly doesn’t fix the line-up!
So, there you have it. Keeping this line-up intact is NOT AN OPTION! Not addressing the Cap issues is NOT AN OPTION EITHER!
It will stifle the development of young talent and the overall organizational growth …. Not to mention that it will further alienate a fan base that has already suffered the ridicule of claiming last place after making the Stanley Cup final, ouch! Fans are in dire need of seeing the future start now!
Finally, this organization keeps telling youngsters that it is okay to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them. Well …. I think that now is a good time for the organization to do just that and decide who they keep and who they trade. Desperate times require desperate actions. And by the way, even if trades fail to produce big results but open up a spot for one or two of the Habs’ promising prospects, so be it! The future starts now!
We all know it is not an exact science and I am of the opinion that this management group will make the best of it. They may have to retain some salary or include sweeteners of sorts to make it happen and it may be painful but it will get done!
Besides, fans support is at an all time high and they’re ready to cheer for this young team no matter what! So, Mr. Hughes, trust your process and bring on the young studs, I know they’re going to be fun to watch!
Keep your stick on the ice – Thanks for reading.