For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

02 March 2007

Why it's not a dream to think of Sheldon Souray and Andrei Markov both in Montreal next season...

Sheldon Souray (centre) and Andrei Markov (left) will both be unrestricted free agents on July 1st.

In today's Montreal Gazette, Pat Hickey is reporting that there is a possibility Sheldon Souray will re-sign with the Canadiens and that he has already discussed this scenario with his distant wife, Angelica Bridges.

It was believed Sheldon Souray would seek a contract from a California based team so he can be closer to his daughter.

"I really don't spend enough time with her," said Souray during an RDS interview last week.

This situation become more complex with Sheldon Souray's wife expecting their second child sometime in May and Hickey notes his relationship will become complicated if he decides to stay in Montreal.

I've thought about Souray's situation intently, and you know what, contrary to public belief that Bob Gainey will not afford to re-sign Andrei Markov and Sheldon Souray, the Canadiens may very well indeed hang onto both, and here's why:

a) Janne Niinimaa, acquired in a pre-season trade from Dallas for Mike Ribeiro, has not panned out and has proved to be a bust in Montreal. He is currently wasting $2.5 million in capspace as the 7th defenceman, and believe it or not, he is the Canadiens' highest paid defenceman.
He is also eligible for UFA status on July 1st and it is near absolute certaincy that he will not be back in Bleu, Blanc et Rouge next season.
Bottom line: Expected to file for free-agency and not be re-signed; -$2,5 million

b) David Aebsicher, a tale of two goalies. Aebsicher started off the season in a hot mood, winning over Habs' fans hearts with his spectacular play, highlighted by a 47-save 5-4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in October.
Things started going downhill from there, Cristobal Huet regained the no.1 goalie status after overcoming early season doubts and put Aebischer behind the bench for good for much of December and January.

He got the occasional call in goal and most of the time was nothing more than ordinary, giving up soft and usually long rebounds and being caught out of position a lot ensued more criticism on him from disgruntled Canadiens fans.

His best chance for redemption came when Cristobal Huet suffered a season-ending hamstring/groin injury in the second period of a game against the Devils in February.
As I saw Huet squirm in pain, I knew David Aebischer was our only hope and quite frankly, I wasn't convinced. With Montreal slipping in the standings, they now find themselves on the verge of missing the playoffs. This all 2 months after the Canadiens held the second best record in the Eastern Conference and challenged the Buffalo Sabres for the Northeast division lead.

Since then, David Aebischer has struggled and it seems he has lost all confidence.
Rookie Jaroslav Halak has won over Guy Carbonneau's heart with his strong play despite the occasional soft goal.

It remains to be seen if the Canadiens will make the playoffs, if not, David Aebsicher will be the first to blame.
I don't see him returning next season, especially with the emergence of Jaroslav Halak.
He is eligible for RFA status on July 1st and has hinted he'd prefer being a starting goaltender elswhere.
Bottom Line: Aebischer's inconsistent play for most of the season might have cost him his job in Montreal, he can no longer be depended on. Unlikely to return. - $1,9 million

c) Radek Bonk: deal or no deal? After a disgusting 2005-2006 in his first season with Montreal, Bonk is tearing it up this season. All-around reliable defensively, a good spark offensively and on top of it, he's by far Guy Carbonneau's favorite player.
Bonk, acquired on Draft Day in June 2004 along with Cristobal Huet for goaltender Mathieu Garon and a 3rd round pick was expected to be an offensive force with a good frame, since the Canadiens lack size, he was expected to produce.
He did not, he struggled with injury problems all season and never got on a roll, he finished the season on the 4th line and provided a limited offensive edge.
However, Bonk is playing the best hockey of his life this season. He has a new friend on the 3rd line, Mike Johnson, and they have become a great defensive duo for the Canadiens, working the penalty kill and occasionally the power play.
Bonk seems always to be in the right spot on defence, being a thorn in the opponent's behind and appears to have regained the offensive touch the Canadiens have longed for.
Bottom line: Definite re-signing...but for a bit cheaper than 2.3 million? Bonk likes Montreal and the organisation likes him, a contract around $1.3-1.4 million is likely here. -$1 million.

d) Mike Johnson: acquired in an off-season trade from the Phoenix Coyotes for a 4th round pick, Johnson has blossomed into a Frank Selke like player. He has a good offensive side and is reliable defensively, he's not afraid to hit either and he's gotten into a few tiffs this season and he shoots the puck a lot.
A great pickup by GM Bob Gainey but the burning question in Johnson's case is, would he be willing to stay here for less? He's currently earning $1.9 million and it's unlikely the Canadiens will offer him that much. A slight pay cut may be in order. - $0.4 million

Aaron Downey will clear up around 425K; which gives us a grand total of - $5,8 million.
Not bad, and considering the cap may go up a million or two, that gives the Canadiens the opportunity to re-sign Souray and Markov.

Souray will probably get $5 or $5.5 million next season. Andrei Markov will probably get $4 or $4.5 million. TOTAL: $9 to $10 million for both of them

And with the Canadiens having $1.56 million left in cap space...we take out $5,8 million which give us: $7,36 million free and with the cap possibly going up $2 million, $9,36 left in cap space.
We're still missing $0.64 million in cap space to make this possible. Well, if Garth Murray is moved, that'll clear up around 500 K and if somehow, Bob Gainey can move Sergei Samsonov that'll make it possible, however it's unlikely. And Cristobal Huet makes $0.25 million less next season, freeing up the necessary space to sign them both.

Just my two cents, I maybe be wrong, but, hopefully, it'll turn out like this.
And what makes this so superficial, is that Chris Higgins, Mike Komisarek, Tomas Plekanec, Michael Ryder and Josh Gorges will likely get an increase in salary next season as RFA's.

If only dreams can come true, and Bob Gainey can impress me once more...

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

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