Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Andrei Markov is now the highest-paid Canadien in franchise history. Andrei will now be making $23 million over the next 4 years, in case you were visiting your Amish friends and missed the announcement yesterday. I think this is a good deal for the Habs. Markov's price would have skyrocketed on the open market. Better to get him locked up now rather than risk getting in a bidding war for him after July 1.

Gainey did not really seem to get into the specifics of the deal...it might be $5.75 million per year, but I would imagine that it is more likely to be back-weighted the last year or two years. Doing such would allow us to sign Souray to a 2-year deal. I also found it curious as to how Gainey made it blatantly clear that Markov was his first priority, even over Souray. I wonder how Souray's camp feels about such statements? I wish Gainey would have chosen his words a little more carefully.

I recall reading a quote from Souray a couple of weeks ago where he said that he would be willing to give the Habs a discount, so long as they made a fair offer. I also believe he said something about how $6 million a season would be too much. It will be interesting to see if we can land Shelly.

As it stands now, our defensemen next year are:


My issue with our defense is how undersized they are. Komisarek and Bouillon are the only two physical guys. Frankie is not the most intimidating player, either. If we can't re-sign Shelly, we will need to find a big, physical defenseman.

Ryan O'Byrne also seems to be waiting in the wings. He has had a very steady year in the AHL this year. He is big and physical, although he is not known for his shot. Maybe the Habs will promote him as the 6th/7th defenseman? I think the odds are that he will not be promoted next year.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Great Day for Habs' Brass

Today has two pieces of good news if you're a Habs fan.

1) The Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the Chicago Wolves to advance to the Calder Cup finals. Carey Price was stellar in net once again. Kyle Chipchura sealed the deal with a big faceoff win in his own zone with a minute left. Outmanned 6-4, Chips won the draw and fired the puck into the 4x6 170 feet away. The fact that Don Lever has him out there killing a penalty with 60 seconds left in the game really speaks volumes about the former first round pick.

2) Bob Gainey inked Sergei Kostitsyn to a 3-year deal today. He will be a Bulldog next year, hopefully replacing his brother in Hamilton.

I hope all of my American readers are having a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 25, 2007

RDS Report?

RDS is reporting that the Habs have offered Andrei Markov a 4-year deal worth a little more than $5 million per season. They are also reporting that he will not need surgery on his injured knee.

I am not a fan of the French media, as they tend to be rumor-mongering fools. So take this with an absolute grain of salt. RDS is a pretty big outfit that is tied to TSN and ESPN, so I find this bit of news mildly more credible than any other French media outlet.

In case you've forgotten, the Hamilton Bulldogs will be playing tonight at 7:30 EST. They are up 3-0 in the series over Chicago and are looking to return to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time since losing to the Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild affiliate) a couple of years ago. I am sure the game will be broadcasted over the internet. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs announcers are biased idiots, so you'd be better off listening to the Chicago feed, if available.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Ok, so I've been busy on holiday and now that I have returned, I am busy as hell at work and have been too lazy to update this thing. I am currently sitting on my porch in sunny California having a Marin Hefe Doppel Weizen enjoying the 80 degree weather and sun. Birds are chirping left and right and the I can hear the attractive female sun bathers at the pool talking about life.

Anyway, since the last time I posted, the Bulldogs have won a few hockey games. They are now up 3-0 in the conference finals against the Chicago Wolves. Barring a couple of catastrophes, the Bulldogs will face the Bears of Hershey, PA. Hershey is the defending Calder Cup Champions. I admit that I doubted management selecting Carey Price over Gilbert Brule in the draft a few years ago, but right now it seems like it wasn't an unreasonable pick. Price just stopped 35 of 36 shots in the latest victory.

Anyway, unrestricted free agency will be upon us in about 5-6 weeks. There are lots of Habs fans who want us to sign a UFA. Here is my response to that:

Ottawa is in the Cup Finals. They made 2 UFA acquisitions last year in Martin Gerber and Joe Corvo. We all know how well Gerber turned out.

Anaheim is also in the Cup finals. They signed Scott Neidermayer as a UFA a few years ago. They also re-signed Selanne at a "home-town" discount. Basically their entire team is home-grown.

Buffalo got a ton of slack for only signing Teppo Numinen a few years ago. They also signed Jaro Spacek in this past off-season. Spacek was benched in the playoffs. The rest of their team was basically home-grown or acquired in trades.

Detroit has the best GM in the league, so they will always be good. Many of the teams that have made the big free agent splashes the past couple of years have faltered. Look at Boston and Philly. St. Louis also spent a lot as did Pittsburgh.

Signing big name, high pirced UFAs is not necessarily the way to build a successful franchise. We need to let our highly rated prospects get some NHL ice time. $th line ice-time is no good. Komisarek struggled a lot when he first started, but we kept giving him ice time and he eventually gained confidence. He is now one of our stalwarts. We need to do the same with Kostitsyn and Grabovski.

We need to figure out our center situation. We have too many. Koivu, Plekanec, Lapierre, Grabovski, and Chipchura. One of them has to go or change positions. Lapierre is a good 4th liner. Chipchura seems like a good 3rd liner. If I'm Saku Koivu, I've seen the writing on the wall. This also explains his discontent with management that the team is perpetually rebuilding. As unpopular of a move it would be and as much as I love him, I think trading Koivu to a contender would probably be the best for him and this organization. He is coming off his best season yet, and I think he will fetch more value now than he will in the future.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dogs take 3-2 Series Lead

Carey Price stopped 36 out of 37 shots to help propel the Hamilton Bulldogs to a 3-1 victory over the Manitoba Moose today in game 5. Now the series goes back to Winnipeg, where Hamilton will need to win one more game.

Markov's Knee Injury

It looks as though Unrestricted Free Agent to-be, Andre Markov, injured his knee at the IIHF tournament. Despite the injury, Markov was named to the All-Tournament Team and was also named the tournament's Best Defenseman. He was replaced in the lineup by Konstantin Korneev, who was drafted 275th overall by the Habs in 2002.

Why an NHL'er who will be a UFA in line for a HUGE raise would play in this relatively meaningless tournament is beyond my comprehesion. It's not like it's the former Olympian's first opportunity to represent Russia in an international tournament. The guy just completed a gruelling 82-game season with the Habs. Take a break.

While I encouraged Komisarek and Higgins to play in this tournament in an earlier blog, I think they have a totally different situation than the Markov one. Neither of those guys have worn the Stars and Stripes before. Unlike Markov, they are only Restricted Free Agents, who are scheduled to get modest raises. Markov had a chance to get two NHL teams in a huge bidding-war for his services, while neither Komisarek or Higgins have a chance for that.

This injury could have numerous ramifications:

1) He has only a minor injury that will not require surgery. Contract negotiations continue without a hitch.

2) He has a serious injury, which will require surgery.

a) Assuming other teams will not be interested in signing him, he signs with the Habs for less than he would have if he did not get hurt. (This could actually be a blessing in disguise in terms of the Habs salary cap. The injury may also justify the Habs signing him to a 1-year deal, if Markov's agent would be agreeable to that. A 1-year deal would obviously be advantageous to the Habs. It would theoretically increase Markov's production this upcoming year and it would also help us determine if he is the same player post-injury. It would also buy us some time in terms of the salary cap. Huet's salary will be off the books at year's end, which should free up more money to sign Markov if we want to at year's end.)

b) Gainey is gun-shy because of the injury and does not sign Markov before July 1. Some other team throws a ton of cash his way despite the injury, and Markov signs with someone else.

c) Same scenario as 2b), except the Habs get in a bidding war and "win" it.

Which option sounds the best to you? More details to follow...

Obscure Hab of the Day: Mario Roberge

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hamilton loses again

The series is now tied at 2 games a piece. Now the Bulldogs will need to go all the way back to Winnipeg because of their inability to win 2 out of 3 consecutive home games. This is turning into a collapse similar to Montreal's collapses against Carolina in 2002 and 2006. The Bulldogs really could use Andrei Kostitsyn.

Other news this week is that the IIHF is targeting Montreal to compete in their "Champions League". Montreal would be crazy to do this. They have nothing to gain (other than $822,000) by going over to Europe and beating up on 2nd-rate teams in the pre-season. There is a reason why NFL teams don't go over to Europe to play NFL Europe teams in the pre-season...

Obscure Hab of the Day: Sebastien Bordeleau