OK, so the Canadiens bundle Scott Gomez, Alex Auld, Alexandre Picard, Jaro Spacek, Danny Kristo and a third-round draft choice in 2015 and trade them for …?
The deadline is Monday afternoon at 3.
Based on what we saw in that nailbiting win over Carolina, here’s what I think Pierre Gauthier will do:
Toward the end of Jacques Martin’s postgame press conference, Barry Morgan of CJAD noted the Feb. 28 deadline and asked the kindly old coach “what areas of improvement have to be improved in your view?”
Martin grinned, secure in the knowledge this one would be easy to duck.
“Last time I checked that was the GM’s responsibility,” Martin said. “We know our team well. If Pierre (Gauthier) can improve the team, he will. If he can’t, we’re happy with the players we have.
“You have to look at the sitation. What is the cost to get certain players. You gotta think what’s long-term for the organization?”
Gauthier knows his team well. So does Martin.
And 63 games into the season, most of us know the Montreal Canadiens pretty well.
The D is long on bodies but, minus three regulars, short on talent.
Roman Hamrlik is heroic (especially when he plays 17:30, with no exhausting PK shifts), P.K. Subban is a future superstar, Hal Gill is a wily vet, Yannick Weber shows promise, James Wisniewski is a PP asset who has problems on the back end and Brent Sopel is, as advertised, a depth defenceman whose PK abilities enhance Hamrlik’s chances of making it through the season alive.
The forwards … don’t get me started.
After getting home from the Bell Centre, I tuned in the end of the Boston-Vancouver game. Based on what I saw, here’s a news flash:
The Bruins are good.
They’re really good; and barring an epic collapse, they’re going to win the Northeast Division.
General manager Peter Chiarelli has fine-tuned his club for a deep playoff run. The addition of Tomas Kaberle shores up the Boston D, and Chris Kelly adds speed up front.
Karberle played 20 minutes, including 2:57 on the power play. Kelly’s 22 shifts included 2:45 on the PK.
Playing in his hometown, Milan Lucic scored the winning goal and added two assists. The bruiser who derailed Mike Komisarek’s career has 27 goals this season.
Could the Canadiens use a beast like Lucic, who was drafted one spot behind Ben Maxwell in 2006?
Is there a power forward who can score out there, waiting to be fleeced out of some GM by the wily Gauthier?
One two more questions:
Would a Dustin Penner, for example, make the Canadiens better than Boston? And what would be cost?
Gomez, Auld and Picard?
But what if Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini wanted P.K. Subban or Max Pacioretty?
What if he asked for a package that included Lars Eller?
Look, I hate to ruin everyone’s Sunday. But based on what I saw at the Bell Centre and on HNIC at home last night, your Montreal Canadiens would have a very tough time winning four of seven games against Boston.
They play the Bruins at the Bell Centre March 8 and in Boston on the 24th – two chances to prove me wrong … again.
But I’ve watched this team play 62 games this season, and I haven’t seen a Cup contender.
Maybe Carey Price can pull a Jaro 2.0 in the playoffs. He certainly has the talent.
Maybe Andrei Kostitsyn can continue to flourish, freed of the shackles that playing with Scott Gomez imposes. He has the talent.
Tomas Plekanec, who was brilliant last night, has the talent. So do Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta.
Then it thins out.
I thought Gomez played a decent game last night, but maybe that’s because my expactations have sunk so low. He played 15:29 (to Pleks’s 22:22) and won a couple faceoffs during the Canadiens’ only power-play.
But the Bell Centre crowd is on the edge of turning Gomez into their newest bête noire. Had the Canadiens lost last night, the $8 million man would have been serenaded with a full-breezer chorus.
Benoit Pouliot is maddeningly inconsistent. Chosen one spot ahead of Carey Price in the 2005 draft, Benny played all of eight minutes in a crucial late-season four-pointer.
Linemate David Desharnais played 11 minutes and took two penalties of the pussy-ass variety in which this team specializes. But the diminutive one was 7-3 on draws, and DD was on the PP unit that produced the winning goal.
Along with Pacioretty and Eller, Desharnais is part of the Canadiens’ future. Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri are just hitting their prime, and Brian Gionta has some miles left in the engine.
But then you get into spare parts: Jeff Halpern, Travis Moen, Tom Pyatt/Ryan White.
Again, I hate to spoil anyone’s Oscar night, but this is not a lineup that strikes fear into the hearts of the Bruins or Flyers.
Nor, I fear, will it become one, no matter what Pierre Gauthier does tomorrow.
I’m not giving up on the season. And I reserve the right to reverse myself and fire up the bandwagon as soon as the Canadiens string a few Ws together (which they haven’t done since the beginning of the month).
But this ain’t my first rodeo.
The Canadiens just don’t have the horses … and I wouldn’t sacrifice any of the colts.