2006-2007 record: 42-34-6, 4th in Northeast, 10th in Eastern Conference.
Missed the playoffs by one point.
A. Contract situations
(Players with number figures are under contract)
F , $4,750,000
F Alex , $4,500,000
F Sergei , $3,525,000
F Steve Begin, $1,225,000
F Guillaume , $850,000
F Garth Murray, $625,000
F Maxim , $563,000
F Andrei , $612,000
F Mikhail , $700,000
F Kyle , $984,000
F Mike Johnson
F Michael Ryder
F Chris Higgins
D Francis Bouillon, $1,875,000
D , $1,750,000
D Mark , $600,000
D Andrei Markov
D Josh Gorges
G Cristobal , $2,750,000
G , $500,000
G Michael Leighton
B. The changes that may come
-It remains to be seen how Bob will cope with checking forwards Mike Johnson and Bonk, both will be unrestricted on July 1st.
Mike Johnson made $1.9 million last season, he had a very solid season and was a great pickup by Bob and ridiculously cheap (4th round pick.)
Bonk was a total bust on certain standards, the acquired him and Cristobal from the Kings hoping he would provide that much needed size and offence.
Bonk made a huge amount of money and was not at all worth the money he put in his wallet last season, after a dreadful first season with Montreal, Bonk seemed rejuvenated this season and played some of the best defensive hockey I've ever seen in my life, unless him and Johnson takes , Bob won't pay nearly $4.5 million again for them both.
It's known would like to retain them both, but, if is signed and his salary is commanding, he may be forced to part with either Bonk or Johnson or even both.
Johnson would probably have a bigger role on another team and it's guess for Bonk.
-Aaron was a horrible enforcer for the , he was totally useless and was a waste of cap space and jersey fabric.
The acquired goaltender Phillipe from the Bruins' minor league club in Providence as part of a loan deal for Aaron .
was acquired because of injuries to and the call up of by the , just a depth deal...
He will not be back next season and he'll be lucky to get an NHL job elsewhere.
-Michael Ryder had an up and down season, and thanks to Andrew , he managed to score 30 goals yet again.
That won't be forgotten by his agent when it comes time to talk turkey with Bob .
Ryder is an RFA and a very good forward.
He is very inconsistent however, and it would be nice if he scored on a consistent basis, and not in short periods of time.
He made $2,2 million last season and he'll get around the same thing next season, he doesn't deserve a raise, but, if Ryder feels he does, will bite and sign him anyway.
-Christopher Higgins and Tomas are the restricted free-agents that will likely get a huge pay raise for the upcoming season.
, arguably the team's best player for the first two months of the season before going down with an ankle injury, will probably net around $800,000 next season, that's a 127 thousand dollar raise from what he's making now.
exploded in the second half and became the second line centre the wanted him to be, maybe even more than many expected.
After a relatively mediocre rookie season, was one of the many young forwards to blossom into young stars for Guy this season, he will likely make $650,000 -$700,000 next season, a hefty raise from his current league minimum $450,000 wage.
Alexander and Duncan won't have any considerable changes to their salary, they may get a little more, but not much, besides, both are slowly fading away and it is believed could return to play in Europe next season rather than get limited ice-time and put up 11 points in Montreal.
is the Hamilton Bulldogs' best scorer, and he finally got the call this season, but it was short-lived and he only spent a week with the before being sent back down to Hamilton.
He is a to make the club next season.
- and David weren't even mentioned by GM Bob at his press conference a few days ago, however, both had terrible seasons and don't figure to be in the plans.
, signed specifically to step up should Cristobal get injured or play bad, did not show up like Montreal wanted and needed from him.
After a great start, it was all downward for and eventually lost his spot to rookie breakout .
Fans won't miss David , his play won't find him a $1.9 million taker for next season, and probably not even a starting job like the Swiss-born goalie longs for.
made a good push for the last month of the season and Guy acknowledged that by playing him on the and in key situations.
career has endured a sharp decline ever since he had that devastating surgery that changed the complexion of his career.
Once considered a top with the , and Islanders, had two equally bad tenures with the Dallas Stars and most recently, the Montreal .
The only way will be a next season, is if he accepts to be the no.7 and get paid a fraction of his current salary ($2,500,000).
Ironically, he was the ' highest-paid in 2006-2007.
-Sheldon and Andrei Markov are both key to the , but it looks like Markov has been made to be signed by GM Bob before he becomes an unrestricted free-agent.
Markov made $2 million last season and he will probably earn the double of that next year.
As for , he may even get the triple of his current $2,4 million salary on the open market.
I don't think Josh Gorges is going to be Sheldon .
He has said he would like to be back next season only if the price was "fair", and with him and Markov sharing the same agent, things can get sticky for Bob if he decides to keep them both.
If he does keep them both, there's no way one will make more than the other.
I think I explained this best to Sherry over at Scarlett Ice when she asked me if the Rivet trading was the first step to clear up money to sign :
Trading away Rivet to clear up money was part of it, but, Rivet was also having a very ordinary season and it seemed as if he had worn out his decade tenure in Montreal.
The deal clears up about $2 million, but, with breaking the record for goals, Michael Ryder (thanks to Raycroft) getting yet another 30 goal season and Sergei Samsonov's paycheck glaring unspectacularly in the pressbox, along with his measly 8 goals, it is actually more difficult for Bob Gainey to retain Souray.
Trading away Rivet was the first step, the second would be to dump either Samsonov or Kovalev, neither will be traded (Samsonov was put on waivers, and went unclaimed) because of the $8 million they represent on the salary cap level.
But Bob will buy out Samsonov and the cap hit will only be $1.2 million, freeing up a good amount, anything is a good amount when it comes to finding money to keep Souray and more importantly, Markov in the fold.
Markov is the better defencemen, I'll say it again: Souray was -28 and his only asset was the shot from the blue-line, it was a valuable one, but his liability in his own end is overshadowed by his 19 powerplay dingers.
Markov, however, is a + on a -162 team and can play 30:00 minutes of sound defensive hockey and spectacular offensive.
On Saturday, I thought Souray would test the FA market, but it appears now that he'll consider staying with Montreal and signing before July 1st only if "the offer is fair".
"Fair" in this case, means around $6 million and if he is sentimental, $5 million.
But, since the Habs were eliminated, according to the hockey media: it makes it all easier to sign Souray, since they say (even though I don't agree) there will be HUGE changes to the roster and many UFA departures (Johnson, Bonk, Niinimaa, buyout of Sammy, possible trade of Kovalev, Bouillon) have probably forced Bob Gainey to re-think his team's situation and change the way the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge look.
And for that, he'll let a few walk and free up space and Souray will be in the Canadiens' price range.
That was a few days ago, and I thank Sherry for asking me that question, as it made me think long and hard on how it would be possible to sign Souray.
But, again, if Bob Gainey is intent on acquiring a free-agent forward like Briere, he may have to let go of Souray if he thinks a scoring forward is more important than his shot.
Briere, I would say, would be more important to this team than Sheldon Souray, and it looks as if Buffalo will keep Chris Drury and let Briere walk, a bad choice in my opinion.
Gainey may be reduced to making another tough choice and getting another migraine:
Do you want to keep Sheldon Souray and his 27 goals, or, get an elite centre like Daniel Briere who can score consistently and make the players around him better.
You make the call, I won't for Gainey.
Cristobal Huet will be the Canadiens' starting goaltender next season to Mitch Melnick's dissapointment, Halak will get a fair share of starts but the Canadiens will play Huet and probably let him go as his contract expires at the end of the season.
Why let him go?
Or, sign Huet to a 1-year deal and make Price the starter for the 2009 Centennial season?
It's difficult to see Jaroslav Halak be the clear cut no. 1 man for the Canadiens ever, Carey Price is a couple seasons away and Huet is under contract for next season.
It'll be interesting to see how the goalie situation turns out, but, Gainey already hinted he's not worried about the goalies and that he still has confidence in his "Crystal Ball."
-Guy Carbonneau, I'm sorry to say, is not as great as everyone makes him to be.
He expects production from his players, while he doesn't work with them to improve their game, to "cultivate them" as Pierre McGuire would say.
Take Kovalev for example, I couldn't believe that he was benched for the final minute of play in
the most important game of the season!
Like, WHAT THE HELL?
Sure, he didn't play great, but I've really become tired of seeing Kovalev on the bench, he's better than that and I wish Carbo would see it differently.
But no, he has his stubborn view on Kovalev and Samsonov, and I'm starting to wonder if they're related to the fact that they're Russian.
Scratching Samsonov for the final stretch was a totally useless move.
The guy is having a horrible year, you don't enforce that or change anything by putting him the pressbox.
You play him, you play him and you hope he'll regain his confidence and get back into the game.
Enough already about this crap that you "focus" when you're scratched, you don't, you only sulk in despair and it makes even more distracted when you get back on the ice.
Samsonov will probably be bought out and we will bid him adieu.
He just didn't fit in here well Carbo, talk to the guy, see what his concerns are, don't got publicly out saying he's going to sit in the pressbox and never play for the Habs again, that's also another thing Carbonneau lacks: communication with his team and that's what probably cost him a chance to coach a playoff-bound team.
I'm starting to think Carbonneau was a bad choice by Bob Gainey and that he should get the whip soon, even if he is "from around here."
He was a good player, but now he's a coach...and that doesn't mean he'll be a good coach.
Man, just listening to Kirk Muller talks makes me feel like he's under Carbonneau's leash and that whatever he says, he's run it thru Carbonneau first.
I actually would like to see Kirk Muller be head coach of this team, I think he'd be better than Guy Carbonneau.
Here's to hoping Bob Gainey will somehow find this blog and read my blog post and make the right choice.