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Are we really as bad as our record this year?

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02-10-2012, 02:18 PM
  #301
Lafleurs Guy
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Let me use this example to explain what I mean about underestimating risk.

Assuming Colorado's first ends up in the 8-13 range (which is likely being generous), if you draft a forward with it, you have a roughly 41% chance of coming up with a guy who'll play 200 GP and 0.5 points per game -- understand, we're not even talking about drafting a guy of Plekanec's caliber here, there's a 59% chance right off the bat that you draft a bottom-6 player or an outright bust.
The .5 points per game... is that just forwards or are blueliners mixed in with those numbers?

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Even figuring that Timmins is significantly better than average at drafting, you're still trading an excellent player for a coin toss that may net you essentially nothing, and we're not even talking about the odds that the resulting player would actually end up being as good as Plekanec.

(41% figure retrieved from: http://www.coppernblue.com/2011/4/4/...ue-first-round -- a useful look at the projected value of draft picks, both first-rounders and lower-rounds. You will probably be happy about its conclusion that top-3 picks rarely turn into grinders or busts.)
As I've said in other threads, I would lean on TT for this decision. I'd ask him before making any trades... "What do you think of this year's draft? What could you do with another top 10 pick?" If he says "thumbs up" then you do it. If not, then you look for prospects instead. It doesn't have to be the draft pick it can be something else.

Moreover, I think we can afford to lose Plekanec. If we really want to win a cup, we're going to have to start taking risks. I know folks love Pleks and if he was 25 I'd say sure, let's keep him but he's not. He's 30 and we're nowhere near a contending team right now. There is a window now of about two or three years before we'll be contenders. That window could be used for developing a prospect we could acquire now so that in three or four years time when we still have a young team, we can start building towards a cup. If we'd done this three years ago (when I was saying the same thing with Koivu and heard the exact same objections that I'm hearing now) then we'd be much further ahead. At some point you have to take risks if you want to win something. A quick fix does nothing for us right now because we aren't contenders so let's go the draft or prospect route.

Thanks for the link, I will check it out.

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02-10-2012, 02:30 PM
  #302
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What did they win with? A tough team to play against, good goaltending and a defense that gives you nothing.
Mostly goaltending and running into AHL-level goaltending for three of their four playoff series, actually, but that's the breaks in the playoffs. I think Boston is a pretty good example that you only need to be "good enough" to win a Cup.

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What we have at the moment is a small defense corps that can be beat fairly easily on the forecheck. We blow leads because people can put the puck deep and beat us to it, draw penalties or create scoring chances by swarming.
We've been blowing leads because while we're good at limiting chances against late in games the opponent has been converting them at an abnormal rate. It has nothing to do with the size of the defensive corps -- an accusation that's puzzling in a corps that features PK Subban (who's certainly physical), Gill (who certainly has size) and Alexei Emelin ('nuff said). We don't precisely have a Francis Bouillon back there. And I think positioning and puck-moving skill does more to prevent chances against than size and physical play anyway.

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You're right, there's no single solution to the problem. But saying we should keep doing the same thing we've done for years and expect a change for the better is a bit idiotic, don't you think?
We could certainly do a better job in a lot of things -- "stop giving away players with 'attitude problems'" would be fix #1 I would implement. The base notion of amassing strong even-strength performers from a platform of excellent special teams is very sound, but the org probably isn't doing a good enough job of it, largely because it gives away too many good young players (IMO a worse problem than not acquiring them in the first place).

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I wasn't talking about off-ice attitude, but the on-ice one.
I also think that's overrated. Montreal has been noted in the playoffs last year for successfully refusing to go into the Bruins' game, after all.

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02-10-2012, 02:37 PM
  #303
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The .5 points per game... is that just forwards or are blueliners mixed in with those numbers?
Just forwards. Blueliners, as explained at the link, have a much lower PPG requirement (0.15) and an additional icetime-per-game requirement (18 minutes).

It's an approximative measure, of course, but good enough to give a good idea, I think. I mean, those are not exactly superstar player requirements.

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Moreover, I think we can afford to lose Plekanec. If we really want to win a cup, we're going to have to start taking risks.
Trading Plekanec is not "a risk" so much as it is "deciding to tank for a few years". We simply don't have the depth at center to replace both him and Gomez over the next couple of years and we only have so many strong wingers to shelter kid centers with. The league's lack of quality centers make replacing him via UFA extremely unlikely (the very problem that initially led to the Gomez trade in the first place).

If you want to trade a veteran for youth, it really should be from where the team is strongest, namely the winger position. Offers for AK's expiring contract certainly should be considered in that context.

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02-10-2012, 03:27 PM
  #304
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Because even with excellent drafting, draft picks -- the sort of draft picks that "buyer" teams have, which by definition tend to be low -- carry a huge risk premium. Giving Timmins more ammunition is not a bad idea, but it's important to understand what the real return of investment is going to be when trading for a draft pick, and weighing the payment.

A draft pick in the lower half has about a 30% chance of yielding a player who isn't easily replaceable. That's the league-wide figure, so figure Timmins is good enough to boost that up to 40% (He might draft Pacioretty with that pick, but he also might draft Chipchura).

If you trade Cole for a first straight up, you have effectively traded him for a tiny shot at a superstar, a small shot at a player who's actually as good as Cole or better, a 40% shot at a top-6 forward type player (or roughly equivalent D-man), and a 60% shot at either nothing or a grinder. If Cole is 34 and on his last contract year, this is a no-brainer. But right now, especially considering that you could still have the opportunity to trade Cole in four years?

That doesn't mean drafting is unimportant and the Habs shouldn't make all reasonable effort to give Timmins as many cracks at the barrel as is reasonable, but it's important not to underestimate the risk involved versus the value of several years of NHL-quality player, especially as it becomes harder and harder to sign quality UFAs so you can't just expect to replace the guy you traded away in the offseason for free.
(BTW, I wouldn't want to trade Cole for a late first straight up, just to make it clear.)

Of course trading for futures is risky, but I think your approach is flawed. If you trade Gionta for picks/prospects, the players you draft don't have to have a similar career as Gio for them to be a good return. You have to ask yourself "what is Gionta going to give me in the next years"?

Now if by the time your team contends the drafted players/acquired prospects play an important role on your team, even if they are nowhere near as good as Gionta was in his prime, they are certainly more useful to your team than Gionta would be by then.

Now at the same time, you were also able to draft with your own picks, giving you twice as much chance at getting useful players in the draft. So logically, you should have a better new young core, while the present young core of Pacioretty-Subban-Price is now in it's prime.

Add the fact that you cleared some cap space in the process, so when x elite player was available as a free agent or via trade, you were in a good position to get him, thus putting you over the top and making you a contender.

Of course I'm painting the perfect scenario, but all those factors should be kept in mind when you entertain the possibility of trading a vet for futures. It's risky, but the "you have x% chance that the pick will turn into a similar player" argument is not the whole story either.

Do we trade every vet on the team for the best pick that's being offered? No. Do we listen if good offers are on the table? Yes.

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02-10-2012, 03:39 PM
  #305
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Of course trading for futures is risky, but I think your approach is flawed. If you trade Gionta for picks/prospects, the players you draft don't have to have a similar career as Gio for them to be a good return. You have to ask yourself "what is Gionta going to give me in the next years"?
It does, however, have to be something you can't just grab for free on the UFA market. Grinders, low-end D-men, mediocre 'scorers', those aren't all that hard to find. Two-way guys like Gionta are much rarer, and top two-way centers like Plekanec even more so. They are correspondingly less likely to result from draft picks. If you're going to trade Gionta and none of the guys you get back are as good as Gionta or any better than cheapish UFAs, well, you really have made your team worse both short- and long-term.

Evaluation is always relative, always about margins. It's not "what does the guy give me", it's "what does the guy give me relative to a replacement I can find easily".

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02-10-2012, 03:54 PM
  #306
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Mostly goaltending and running into AHL-level goaltending for three of their four playoff series, actually, but that's the breaks in the playoffs. I think Boston is a pretty good example that you only need to be "good enough" to win a Cup.
Ok, let's say we don't need to be a tough team. We do need to be able to have a team that responds well to teams that are. We need people that can light a spark by something else than scoring goals.

Obviously scoring goals is great and the best way to go on to win a game. But if your big names are getting roughed up and have to fight off tight checking, you need to have people that can go in there and give you some energy, wear down people, change momentum and/or to change the opposing team's focus by getting under their skin. The good guy act only really works when you the horses to win you the race, which we clearly don't.

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We've been blowing leads because while we're good at limiting chances against late in games the opponent has been converting them at an abnormal rate. It has nothing to do with the size of the defensive corps -- an accusation that's puzzling in a corps that features PK Subban (who's certainly physical), Gill (who certainly has size) and Alexei Emelin ('nuff said). We don't precisely have a Francis Bouillon back there. And I think positioning and puck-moving skill does more to prevent chances against than size and physical play anyway.
First off, Gill is gone. Second, neither Subban or Emelin has shown they can play against a strong forecheck and not turn the puck over consistently. Especially Subban.

If you haven't seen the games this year, the amount of times the opposing team can bog us down in our season has been astronomical. We need people that can create their own space in the defensive zone and fight off players on the boards.

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We could certainly do a better job in a lot of things -- "stop giving away players with 'attitude problems'" would be fix #1 I would implement. The base notion of amassing strong even-strength performers from a platform of excellent special teams is very sound, but the org probably isn't doing a good enough job of it, largely because it gives away too many good young players (IMO a worse problem than not acquiring them in the first place).
That goes without saying. But you gotta think there's more to it than just not wanting to work it out with the players. There might be an organizational philosophy, coaching choice or veteran leadership that doesn't respond well enough to different molds to not turn it into a downward spiral that results in said players to be traded.

I very much doubt they're thinking they're dealing something good for nothing every time.

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I also think that's overrated. Montreal has been noted in the playoffs last year for successfully refusing to go into the Bruins' game, after all.
I said if it was a perceived problem. While it's nice to point that out, the number of times the team has quit on a game this year is quite large.

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02-10-2012, 04:19 PM
  #307
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It does, however, have to be something you can't just grab for free on the UFA market. Grinders, low-end D-men, mediocre 'scorers', those aren't all that hard to find. Two-way guys like Gionta are much rarer, and top two-way centers like Plekanec even more so. They are correspondingly less likely to result from draft picks. If you're going to trade Gionta and none of the guys you get back are as good as Gionta or any better than cheapish UFAs, well, you really have made your team worse both short- and long-term.

Evaluation is always relative, always about margins. It's not "what does the guy give me", it's "what does the guy give me relative to a replacement I can find easily".
Well the point is not to trade Gionta and try to replace him right away with a UFA. The point is to get a prospect that will join the lineup, even though he might be a rookie, or to insert a guy like Leblanc, and give bigger roles to other youngsters.

You might find a younger Gionta on the market, but not necessarily, but losing Gio is not going to send us in full tank mode anyway.

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02-10-2012, 04:19 PM
  #308
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But if your big names are getting roughed up and have to fight off tight checking, you need to have people that can go in there and give you some energy, wear down people, change momentum and/or to change the opposing team's focus by getting under their skin.
All this stuff has a lot of narrative value, but its real value in terms of winning hockey game is at best highly debatable. "Energy" players, generally, are "energy" players because they're not good enough to do anything else, not because "energy" has implicit value. There's a good reason why fourth-liners of that ilk get so little icetime.

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First off, Gill is gone. Second, neither Subban or Emelin has shown they can play against a strong forecheck and not turn the puck over consistently. Especially Subban.
Wait what? That's one of the things Subban does best -- getting away before forechecking can get there and transitioning the puck. Don't let the occasionnal highly-publicized mistake overshadow his body of work.

Montreal routinely victimized excessive forechecking last season with rapid transition leading to odd-man rushes. Now that RC is having the team forechecking heavily, we're seeing it in reverse as well (witness the game versus Buffalo). The solution to forechecking isn't more size, it's more skill -- pass the puck out quickly so that it isn't there anymore when the forecheckers arrive, and catch them behind the play.

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If you haven't seen the games this year, the amount of times the opposing team can bog us down in our season has been astronomical.
The Habs' weaker puck possession this year is a confluence of two factors: lack of a real second pairing, and lack of Gomez to mask that problem. That seems like it would be more a lack of transition skill than it would a lack of size. It's a problem that would have been fixed by Markov far more readily than a big stay-at-home D-man.

Randy continually throwing players like Eller against opposition they weren't equipped to handle probably contributed to that impression as well.

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I said if it was a perceived problem. While it's nice to point that out, the number of times the team has quit on a game this year is quite large.
I don't agree at all, especially considering that the vast majority of their losses have been by one goal plus the occasional empty-netter.

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02-10-2012, 04:21 PM
  #309
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You might find a younger Gionta on the market, but not necessarily, but losing Gio is not going to send us in full tank mode anyway.
No, but it makes the team worse for a few years, because it will be a while before Leblanc or another prospect can replace Gionta effectively -- if it ever happens.

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02-10-2012, 04:36 PM
  #310
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No, but it makes the team worse for a few years, because it will be a while before Leblanc or another prospect can replace Gionta effectively -- if it ever happens.
Gionta is not going to help us for the next few years anyway, he is not playing this year and is only signed for the next two.

Anyway it's just an example and i don't think other teams would be much interested.

But I've read more of your posts and our opinions don't differ that much. The only difference is I don't believe we can become a contender without making risky moves. Trading a vet for prospects is something we will have to look at, and consulting Timmins before doing so should improve our chances of making the right moves.

Not trading away young players will also help, but that would mean not being obsessed with short term success.

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02-10-2012, 04:58 PM
  #311
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All this stuff has a lot of narrative value, but its real value in terms of winning hockey game is at best highly debatable. "Energy" players, generally, are "energy" players because they're not good enough to do anything else, not because "energy" has implicit value. There's a good reason why fourth-liners of that ilk get so little icetime.
I don't remember who said it (some basketball coach, probably Doc Rivers), but 'effort is a skill'. Those guys tire out who they're playing against, can bring PK play and be glue guys. I disagree with what you're saying. A guy that can bring energy doesn't necessarily mean the 5 min 4th liner.

Saying it has a lot of narrative value and little real value is to overlook everything that is said by every coach in every sport. Basically you're crowning yourself the expert over people hired to run those teams.

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Wait what? That's one of the things Subban does best -- getting away before forechecking can get there and transitioning the puck. Don't let the occasionnal highly-publicized mistake overshadow his body of work.

Montreal routinely victimized excessive forechecking last season with rapid transition leading to odd-man rushes. Now that RC is having the team forechecking heavily, we're seeing it in reverse as well (witness the game versus Buffalo). The solution to forechecking isn't more size, it's more skill -- pass the puck out quickly so that it isn't there anymore when the forecheckers arrive, and catch them behind the play.
That works well enough in theory, but when it comes down to it, good hockey teams don't randomly throw pucks in, they put it in places to force a board battle. We're not winning that consistently with our guys. Unless you're the Red Wings, having an overly small blueline doesn't usually work out well.

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The Habs' weaker puck possession this year is a confluence of two factors: lack of a real second pairing, and lack of Gomez to mask that problem. That seems like it would be more a lack of transition skill than it would a lack of size. It's a problem that would have been fixed by Markov far more readily than a big stay-at-home D-man.

Randy continually throwing players like Eller against opposition they weren't equipped to handle probably contributed to that impression as well.
We've had that problem for quite some time. Markov wouldn't have made that big a difference. We'd still get killed on the forecheck.

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I don't agree at all, especially considering that the vast majority of their losses have been by one goal plus the occasional empty-netter.
You're quitting on a game when you let the lead slip through your fingers and let the other team run with it.

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02-10-2012, 06:41 PM
  #312
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I don't remember who said it (some basketball coach, probably Doc Rivers), but 'effort is a skill'. Those guys tire out who they're playing against, can bring PK play and be glue guys.
The problem is, "energy fourth liners" may tire out who they're playing against but they're generally playing against other fourth-liners (or else they're probably spending time getting scored on by better players). They can give all their effort and try their best, but icetime they're fourth-liners, it's because their best isn't good enough to get more icetime.

Now, if they can play the PK effectively, then that's a skill and it certainly has real value. It's often forgotten that defense is a skill.

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Saying it has a lot of narrative value and little real value is to overlook everything that is said by every coach in every sport. Basically you're crowning yourself the expert over people hired to run those teams.
Not at all. I'm simply putting more weight on how those experts use their personnel than what they tell the media. They're not going to tell the press "yes, I limit their icetime because they're my worst players", I find it more telling when the energy guys are almost always the first to get their icetime cut in close games. They also DO need to motivate their players as much as possible, so it's not like they don't value effort.

But if you offered to swap the average NHL club's best fourth-line energy players with second-line caliber players, I bet there isn't a coach in the league who wouldn't take that in a heartbeat. (Well, maybe Randy. )

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That works well enough in theory, but when it comes down to it, good hockey teams don't randomly throw pucks in, they put it in places to force a board battle.
They try, but with quick and skilled enough defensemen, it usually doesn't matter. It's why overly-aggressive forecheck can be exploited by skilled defense and why Cunneyworth's ultra-aggressive tactics haven't significantly upped goal-scoring.

Markov is excellent in transition, which would've helped the team's puck possession immensely. Far more than, say, another Emelin.

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You're quitting on a game when you let the lead slip through your fingers and let the other team run with it.
I think that's purely an interpretation.

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02-10-2012, 10:58 PM
  #313
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Trading Plekanec is not "a risk" so much as it is "deciding to tank for a few years".
No it isn't. That's ridiculous.

I don't get you man. You talk like we've got a good team but then turn around and claim that we'll tank for years without Plekanec. If we'd be that bad without Pleks, then we're not all that good a team.

So which is it?
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We simply don't have the depth at center to replace both him and Gomez over the next couple of years and we only have so many strong wingers to shelter kid centers with. The league's lack of quality centers make replacing him via UFA extremely unlikely (the very problem that initially led to the Gomez trade in the first place).
Who says we have to replace Gomez? We're paying him, play him. DD becomes the number one guy and Eller becomes number two. There's also Leblanc that we can bring in... we play the kids. Subban, Price, Max... that's decent enough to compete for a playoff spot. Maybe we'll tank like we did this year but that could happen if we keep Pleks anway. We're fighting for last with him in the lineup right now anyway.
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If you want to trade a veteran for youth, it really should be from where the team is strongest, namely the winger position. Offers for AK's expiring contract certainly should be considered in that context.
That's fine too. Ditto with Cole. All those guys should be shopped. They won't all get dealt but they should be shopped.

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02-11-2012, 12:36 AM
  #314
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I don't get you man. You talk like we've got a good team but then turn around and claim that we'll tank for years without Plekanec. If we'd be that bad without Pleks, then we're not all that good a team.
Losing Plekanec, assuming that Gomez is gone/useless, doesn't immediately mean the team will end up in the lottery, given the strength of the rest of the roster... but I'm thinking we'd be looking at 9th and 10th-place finishes. So not only is it deciding to tank, it's deciding to tank poorly.

Or they might manage to squeak into the playoffs in 7th or 8th place. But you're the one who keeps telling me that's a waste of time. I think that with Plekanec and competent coaching, we can expect better than this.

The Habs have a good roster but the way it's structured, Plekanec is literally the most important player on it, at least when making the assumption everybody makes, that Gomez has become useless and/or will be leaving next season. Note that I didn't say "best", just "most important", because of positional importance and team depth.

Top center is a role that is a close second in importance on a team (after #1 defenseman) and while Plekanec can fill this role admirably, the Habs do not have anyone who can fill the role adequately if he's gone (barring a resurrected Gomez). And there's more depth at every other skater position. Even the absence of Markov was alleviated by Subban ably filling in the position.

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Who says we have to replace Gomez? We're paying him, play him. DD becomes the number one guy and Eller becomes number two.
DD as number one center, backed by Eller as number two? I think the kids are good, but this is premature. And when it happens, it'll be Eller-DD, not DD-Eller.

One of the reasons the Habs are in the situation they are in is because Gomez was hurt and Plekanec was forced to singlehandedly cover for both Eller and Desharnais. It's less of an issue now that both Eller and DD have climbed a step or three, but they're not yet at the stage where they can run the show without Plekanec. They won't be able to handle the matchup game. In a couple years, sure, this might work; Eller certainly looks like he'll slide into the Plekanec role in the future.

Right now, the only way this remotely works is if Gomez is still capable of being a tough-minutes center and sliding into Plekanec's role (which I think he is, but he is clearly not as good; others obviously do not believe he is). And even then, it doesn't mean that trading Plekanec for futures would be a smart move, because he's better than Gomez and because it's still highly unlikely any futures you get from trading him will ever become as good or give you as much value as Plekanec on the rest of his contract. If you're going to delete a center from the roster, it really makes more sense to see if you can repurpose Gomez's cap space.

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02-11-2012, 12:59 AM
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Yes, we are as bad as our record shows, that what a record is...duh. Reasons are, no big number 1 or 2 center, most players having below average years, weak and small defense, poor 4th line.

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02-11-2012, 06:03 PM
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Losing Plekanec, assuming that Gomez is gone/useless, doesn't immediately mean the team will end up in the lottery, given the strength of the rest of the roster... but I'm thinking we'd be looking at 9th and 10th-place finishes. So not only is it deciding to tank, it's deciding to tank poorly.

Or they might manage to squeak into the playoffs in 7th or 8th place. But you're the one who keeps telling me that's a waste of time. I think that with Plekanec and competent coaching, we can expect better than this.

The Habs have a good roster but the way it's structured, Plekanec is literally the most important player on it, at least when making the assumption everybody makes, that Gomez has become useless and/or will be leaving next season. Note that I didn't say "best", just "most important", because of positional importance and team depth.

Top center is a role that is a close second in importance on a team (after #1 defenseman) and while Plekanec can fill this role admirably, the Habs do not have anyone who can fill the role adequately if he's gone (barring a resurrected Gomez). And there's more depth at every other skater position. Even the absence of Markov was alleviated by Subban ably filling in the position.
Like I said... play Gomez. Shoot for the playoffs and if it looks like we're terrible like we are this year then we can sell again next deadline. If we're good enough, then great go for the postseason.

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Originally Posted by MathMan View Post
DD as number one center, backed by Eller as number two? I think the kids are good, but this is premature. And when it happens, it'll be Eller-DD, not DD-Eller.

One of the reasons the Habs are in the situation they are in is because Gomez was hurt and Plekanec was forced to singlehandedly cover for both Eller and Desharnais. It's less of an issue now that both Eller and DD have climbed a step or three, but they're not yet at the stage where they can run the show without Plekanec. They won't be able to handle the matchup game. In a couple years, sure, this might work; Eller certainly looks like he'll slide into the Plekanec role in the future.

Right now, the only way this remotely works is if Gomez is still capable of being a tough-minutes center and sliding into Plekanec's role (which I think he is, but he is clearly not as good; others obviously do not believe he is). And even then, it doesn't mean that trading Plekanec for futures would be a smart move, because he's better than Gomez and because it's still highly unlikely any futures you get from trading him will ever become as good or give you as much value as Plekanec on the rest of his contract. If you're going to delete a center from the roster, it really makes more sense to see if you can repurpose Gomez's cap space.
DD is doing just fine with those other guys and he'll be fine next year. We don't have a number one line anyway and haven't for years so I don't see how this changes. Keep those guys together and YES play Eller at the 2nd line center. If he can't handle it, rotate him with Gomez, Leblanc and other kids... We don't have to go for quick fixes for 8th place. Play what we've got, see how they do. If we drop out sell more, if not then continue on the path. At least we get a higher pick this year plus whatever return we get for Pleks and whatever we sell this year developing along the way.

Because if we keep Pleks we could STILL miss the playoffs next year anyway.

There is no point in getting rid of Gomez's contract only to replace him with another 2nd tier FA who will lead us nowhere. We aren't winning anything next year anyway and Gomez only has two years left on that deal. Rebuild, play him out... By the time his contract is up our other prospects will have some experience and we'll have the returns from the trades. THEN we can look at FAs if we're in a position where we can win. FAs don't make sense now esp considering the fact that we can't seem to attract the best ones anyway. The top stars don't want to come here. They know we're not good enough to win. That's why we wind up with the leftovers... those who value the paycheck over winning.

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02-12-2012, 03:22 AM
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02-12-2012, 03:23 AM
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02-12-2012, 07:35 AM
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