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01-09-2013, 01:52 AM
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I can see this topic is going to get intresting as the year goes on. One thing has to be considered, do we want to see Montreal to buyout contracts to remain competitive and try to make playoff runs or try to do a small rebuild. And by a rebuild, buyout all the former FA players and do some trades that Gainey and Gauthier brought in which we can all agree have seriously damaged the franchise.

I think we also need to look at our cap numbers going into this season and then the next. Looking at this current year, we are 10th in total cap size, this is without PK Subban signed, which would mean more then likely another 5million will be added to this number. Next year in 2013-2014 is going to look scary for Montreal, every team's payroll will drop because of contracts expiring and every one of them will go below the 60million cap figure with the exception of Montreal, which if we figure Subban's salary in with probably be 65million with 17 players signed. 6million over the next closest team.

What does this mean? Well we obviously have to buyout Scott Gomez to get back under the Cap ceiling, but that leaves us with only 2 million to fill out our roster, so we need to exercise another buyout to give us more space to sign more players. At this point, we may be forced to look at the situation as how good are we going to be by the end of the 2013 season and then decide if we need to do a makeover.

If we barely squeak into the playoffs then go out in the first round, then I would have to say Montreal needs to do a rebuild to fix some of their core issues. Bigger forwards, younger players. Montreal has a good nucleus to build from, it wouldn't have to be a total rebuild, but trading some players to free up cap space and get some draft picks would go a long way to righting the Habs ship.

I'm not saying that Montreal needs to do a rebuild or they should consider it now in this shortenned season, but the question has to be asked with our cap situation, trading several underperforming players would go a long way to fixing key issues with the club. And since we can't do buyouts until after this season, the Habs performance up the the trade deadline could be a good gauge whether the Habs need to do a rebuild.

Here are the potential players we could either buyout or trade. Gomez will be our obvious first choice.

Andrei Markov. He's had two seasons where in essence his whole season was wiped out. He's a great quarterback to a powerplay and when healthy a top 5 defenseman. PK Subban has had to step up to replace Markov's lost production, but we can agree Subban doesn't have Markov's puck distribution on the PP. So Markov does have value to the franchise. But he's had two injury plagued seasons now, his cap hit is 5.75million which is significant for a player that isn't playing. If he has a healthy season, then his value goes up and potentially his trade value as well. He may not be worth a first rounder with his age and injury history, but a second wouldn't be out of the question. If he does get reinjured this season, then its pretty manditory that Montreal buyout Markov and free up the 5.75million cap hit.

Tomas Kaberle. A decent puck moving defenseman with a fairly high cap hit at 4.25million. A gauthier trade that many fans regret, one of his last moves that is another drag on the club, but his cap hit isn't excessive like Markov's and could be moved via trade. Potentially a second rounder could return for Kaberle so buying out Kaberle shouldn't be too high on the list because of this. His contract is over in the 2014 season as well.

Brian Gionta. Another injury plagued player with softer production then we expected for his high salary. 5million cap hit is quite excessive and for many of us a bad contract to make. I think with the Gomez trade, these two contracts were the worst moves Gainey did and will effect the Habs organization for years to come, At 5million, his trade value is very low, it would take a significant incentive by Montreal to get any team to take on Gionta. His contract though is over in 2014, so one saving grace. Gionta should be very high on the buyout list. (It may be possible to trade him via taking on some of his cap hit with the new CBA rules)

Rene Bourque. A big forward that doesn't play like a powerforward. Could he return to his past production that is the question. His cap hit is 3.33million. Its the least excessive of the 4 players here and one of the more easily tradable. The question though will be is he the best value to buyout when the 2013-2014 cap will be still very high for Montreal? We may be forced to buyout another player to create more cap space. Bourque's potential buyout is low because of this. His contract will be over in 2016.

How should Montreal proceed after this season is over? Well if Montreal stands pat and buyouts Scott Gomez and either Kaberle or Bourque like many here suggest. Then Montreal will not have alot of wiggle room to make any impact in free agency. Montreal will be hard up on the cap. Other teams like Toronto will have 20million free next year and next years free agency should see many quality players available.

But if Montreal decides on a rebuild, then our team can look very different by the end of this season. We could trade underperforming players with big contracts to clear up cap space. When free agency comes along, Montreal can then decide to go after some of those players or stand pat and promote from the farm club and bring up players like Tinnordi, Beulieu to replace players like Markov and Kaberle and by then Alex Galchenyuk will be at the club level playing as well. Montreal will get bigger and much younger as well and we would free up a space to make some signings as well in free agency.

To go about this, I would suggest by the trade deadline, move Gionta and do a cap and trade deal with the other club, get a draft pick for him. Move Kaberle and hopefully just get a draft pick without taking on any of his cap hit. At the end of the season, buyout Gomez and Markov and Montreal then frees up potentially 22.2million in cap space or less if a cap and trade deal happens. With this cap freed, Montreal then can make a splash in free agency and go after some marquee FA players like Ryan Getzlaf and Correy Perry who are both 27yrs, Travis Zajac 27yrs, Valterri Filpulla 28yrs. Some of these forwards would go a long way to fixing some of our defeciences on size and playmaking skills.

So by no means am I suggesting we tank and rebuild, there are other possiblities out there that we can explore. But to put more emphasis on what I am trying to say. Montreal should be exploring ways to give themselves more cap room to operate and simply not standing pat on this roster if they just squeak into the playoffs this year. They could remake their roster and improve themselves at the same time. If Montreal just squeaks into the playoffs and we only do buyouts then we really are not improving the club and its hard to see in the short term, Montreal competing for Stanley Cups with the current roster.

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