“I have heard from a reliable source that there may be a deal brewing between Montreal and Philadelphia. Pleks, Gill, and Halak for Carter and Boucher.” – 24 Cups
Well, what do you think?
The Philadelphia-Montreal rumours have been swirling for the past week or so. Jaroslav Halak wants out, Jeff Carter is available… let’s make a deal, right?
We ship out our number one center for their number one center. They get a real solid 5/6th defensemen who gets the job done on the PK. We give them a guy who wants to be a number one goalie for a guy who’s lucky to be a backup.
In today’s world of “my capspace is bigger than yours”, GMs have a tough time orchestrating any impact trades until February or March. This season’s deadline is March 3rd and we might see a flurry of activity this year if there are any major injuries during the Olympic Winter Games.
Most teams have very little wiggle room right now. They’re up against the cap and can’t make any major moves. Our trades this season have so far involved a contract-for-contract swap (Guillaume Latendresse / Benoit Pouliot) and moving Kyle Chipchura’s minimum contract of $500 000 (or what someone like Vincent Lecavalier made while you were reading this sentence).
Most big trades will take place during the off-season when teams have more cap space due to expiring contracts and an allowance to exceed the cap by 10% while rosters are finalized. Everything becomes clearer when the NHL announces the exact cap limit.
Carter-for-Plekanec in January would be unusual.
There are a few reasons why it might happen:
1. The Flyers are struggling. They fired their coach, John Stevens, and replaced him with former Canes bench boss and Cup-winner Peter Laviolette. As of now, Laviolette hasn’t been able to get the Flyers back on track, but GM Paul Holgrem wants to give him more time before making significant roster changes.
2. The Flyers need a goalie – now. Brian Boucher? Michael Leighton? They’re (maybe) backup material or AHL starters, but they are not your #1 in the NHL. The Flyers might have hoped those two could handle the load with Ray Emery going down with an abdominal tear, but hope won’t win you games. Jaroslav Halak would provide the Flyers with a guy who would have no trouble taking on that responsibility for the next few weeks and then giving a healthy Emery real competition for minutes.
3. Montreal has wanted/needed a legitimate #1 centerman for years. Sure Pleks is playing great, sure Scott Gomez can make fancy passes and gets paid a lot, but neither one of them is an honest-to-goodness number 1. Jeff Carter is. At 6’3”, 200lbs – Jeff Carter is big. Last year he notched 46 goals; Plekanec and Gomez combined for 36.
So, a done deal?
Not so fast. Although the trade would be similar in terms of immediate cap hit, we’d be taking on Carter’s $5 million salary for next season too. Not an excessive contract given his ability, but it’s more than Plekanec earns and more than it would cost to re-sign him. Most have Pleks pegged at a multi-year deal for around 4-4.5$ per season. A million extra for Carter might seem worth it, but the Habs just might not be able to afford it. Gomez (7.357m), Cammalleri (6m) and Gionta (5m) are already all making quite a bit. Throw in Hamrlik (5.5) and Andrei Markov (5.75) and we’re suddenly looking at a lot of money.
Oh and Carey Price will be looking for a raise this summer
Gainey would have to work some magic, but yes, he’d be able to make the numbers work.
Let’s look at the other players involved:
Hal Gill – He’s a solid bottom-pairing defenseman who has great reach and can cover a lot of ice on the PK. With Markov back, there will be less pressure on the big guy and he gives the Habs good depth. Can we survive his departure? Yes. But I’d rather give up Paul Mara.
Jaroslav Halak – We all know he’s good. When Cristobal Huet went down with a hamstring injury a couple seasons ago, Halak was more than capable as a starter. When he gets a decent chance here – which is rare –he’s good. Price has a higher celing, but Halak is definitely good. He’s been itching to play and in the short-term at least, he’d get his wish with the Flyers. Is he a bonafide number one? Maybe in a Peter Budaj sort of way but I don’t ever see him being dominant. Can twe survive his departure? Yes. Is he worth a big return by himself? No, maybe a pick and a prospect.
Do you want mayo with that? I mean, Brian Boucher. No, not really. I’d rather a late round pick or prospect.
Some questions to think about:
Can we re-sign Plekanec? Would he re-sign?
Why would the Flyers be giving up on Jeff Carter? Are the mutterings of a divided locker room true?
Would we be able to re-sign Carter after his contract expires?
What would the Habs think if our hardest working player this season gets shipped out?
It’s a good trade to debate. It’s not as silly as most rumours go.
If this gets done, Bob Mackenzie will probably call it “a good hockey deal for both sides”.
Pierre McGuire will say the Habs gave up a lot of assets for a “monster”.
If you listen to the Team 990 you won’t know what PJ Stock thinks about it – but you will – if you tune in to one of his other gigs at CHOM, HNIC, Antichambre, Al-Jazeera or China’s CCTV. Michel Bergeron wouldn’t care because none of the players involved are French, but because of that he’d call it “un mauvaise echange”.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s another rumour going around about Dustin Byfuglien being shipped here for an unknown asset. The Habs could use a guy who finishes his checks and the Blackhawks could use some cap relief.
It’s unlikely that they’d want Halak with both Huet and Antti Niemi playing well, so maybe we’d send them a pick or a prospect in return.
With the Hawks rolling right now, it seems unlikely that they mess with a winning roster. They want to win a Cup this year – and I think they can do it. They can deal with roster issues in the summer and giving away a solid role player for future talent just doesn’t add up.
With the NHL holiday trade freeze currently in effect, we won’t know at least until December 27th. And we should also keep in mind that Bob Gainey is incredibly secretive and hates leaks about possible player swaps. So what are the chances that this is legit? I’ll leave that to you.
Carter for Captain?