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02-16-2007, 02:13 PM
Le depisteur
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Originally Posted by Mike8 View Post
I don't see how the core has failed. What's the core? Koivu, Markov, Kovalev? Anyone else?

Most would agree that Koivu and Markov are core-player worthy, and Kovalev a legitimately strong support-core player.

Kovalev and Koivu are each paid roughly market value. Markov's paid below market value.

So given the fact that Montreal has a small core as it is, and we could all agree that they are not spectacular relative to the other cores of the league (though still worthy of being part of the foundation of any franchise), why is it that such a small amount (roughly $10.5m) is being spent on the core?

Why is roughly $6.5m being spent on #5, #6, #8 defensemen? (Dandenault, Bouillon, Niinimaa respectively)

While we value what Johnson has provided, he's earning an awful lot for a mediocre offensive player who provides energy, but not much in the way of grit. Same goes for Bonk.

Samsonov was identified as a core player (according to his salary), but hasn't worked out for a variety of reasons, which means Montreal's added more support scoring when a core player was needed.

Look, my point is that Montreal's core is not bad, it's just small. Teams have two options:

1) Small, elite core, a la Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, et al.;

2) Larger core, filled with depth and talents that complement eachother, a la Nashville.

I don't believe Kariya or Sullivan are much ahead of Koivu, for example. Nor do I believe Timonen is much better than Markov. The difference is primarily that Nashville has a couple of more core players which allows a player like Hartnell and Radulov to thrive in a specific depth role, whereas Montreal relies on its Hartnell/Radulov equivalents (players like Plekanec, Higgins) to provide a bulk of the offense.

A primary difference is the blueline. Nashville's got a deep, puck-moving defense. Montreal's defense is a weakness in the puck moving department.

Take the example of Detroit: Zetterberg, Datsyuk are the only forwards that have exceptional talent in some way or another. Datsyuk is not an exceptional player on the whole ... he's streaky, soft, suspect defensively and suspect when the going gets rough. Zetterberg is phenomenal, in my view, and a legitimate star. But then Detroit has the likes of Samuelsson and Cleary playing on the second line there, so we can make a claim that Montreal's talent up front is greater than Detroit's.

So why is Detroit better than Montreal?

In part due to Zetterberg, as he's really that good and helps mold their team as a whole, but largely due to the defense. Lidstrom, Kronwall, Lebda, Chelios, D.Markov, Schneider. They can all skate. They can all move the puck. They're all solid, unspectacular defensively and they're efficient.

Montreal's only efficient defenseman is Markov and at times Dandenault. Komisarek's useful, but the rest are average at best in their own zone. Rivet, as much as I like him, is not a puck mover and not a sufficient threat in transition, which makes him an average defenseman. He's worthwhile due to his character, but when there are three defensemen (Komisarek, Rivet, Souray) who are not efficient and they're all offering the same characteristics (character, grit, physical presence), then there's a problem. (And yes, I realize Souray's got a cannon of a shot).

My point is that this core has not failed. Koivu, while he's struggled horribly of late, also played well above his head earlier in the year and played like one of the better Cs in the league for a stretch. He's balancing himself out right now. Kovalev's played below par for himself this year, but we can likely all agree that he's more of a support to a core player than a core player himself, ideally.

The overpayment of depth players, the lack of an additional core forward added into the mix, and the subpar puck movement on the blueline are true causes for this team's return to mediocrity, in my view.

I can't think of another team in the league that relies on 1.5 core forwards to lead a team to the playoffs. Especially if the blueline isn't exceptional.
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