Habs obviously haven't been getting their money's worth so far...and their financial situation for the next couple of years doesn't look promising. I'm quite concerned actually. Gainey's made some glaring mistakes in my humble opinion, but no point moaning about the past...I hope he realizes where he's made mistakes, and makes the necessary adjustments. Here's what I see as the major cost issues:
1) Is Theo worth the 5.33 M$/year cap hit that we're taking? I think his performances speak for themselves...Before the season, I kept saying Theodore was vastly overrated and not worth that salary because he was too inconsistent a goalie. He's proving me wrong this year...he's been real consistent. Consistently poor. The part that scares me most is the fact that we might very well be stuck with him until the end of the 2007-2008 season.
2) While I have the utmost respect for Kovalev's raw ability, I think signing him to a 4 year contract for 4.5M$/year was another huge mistake. For one thing, he is way too inconsistent a player to be paying that much for. On top of that, if he's inconsistent now, at the age of 32, imagine how bad he'll be at the age 35...He produces at a 1 point/game rate currently, which is ok, but below what he's capable. Four years from now, his salary will still be 4.5M$/year...do you think it's reasonible to assume that he'll be producing as much or more than he is currently?
3) Although I don't dislike Bonk at all, I think 2.394M$/year for 2 years is a bit much for another player that suffers from inconsistency...ask Sens fans how frustrating a player he's been for them.
4) Koivu is currently earning 3.42M$/year. We need to resign him, cuz he's easily been our best forward this season (I love the guy, so maybe I'm biased). On top of that, we have no other players capable of centering a first line. I'd be willing to look for another option via the free agent market, but the reality is that it's not easy to convince players to come to Montreal. I think Koivu wants to stay here. However, to resign him, we'll need to offer him something long term, and I think it'll have to be at least 4M$/year. If I'm Saku Koivu, why should I be making less than a guy like Alex Kovalev? I'm more consistent, I bring more on a game-by-game basis, I'm the captain, and I play with intensity. Now, say we sign Koivu for 4.5M$/year...that leaves us with 16.724$ committed to 3 inconsistent players, and an aging, undersized, injury-prone center. Not really the best way to spend your money, IMO.
In the offseason, I was afraid that the Kovy and Theo signings would bite us in the derriere, and unfortunately, it seems as though that might be the case. I might be biased since I've always thought Theo was greatly overrated (like always...even during the season he won the Vezina/Hart), but the move that angered me the most was trading Garon to keep Theo. It just didn't make any sense to me...hockey wise, and especially money wise. You need to have foresight as a GM, which Gainey clearly lacked when he made that move. I don't think going with Garon as the #1 would have been that risky a move. He's big, and well coached (Melanson). And the most important thing: you save a ton of money which could have been used to shore up other weaknesses on the team. Kovalev is an inconsistent player, and I would have rather seen us sign a guy like Demitra. But in Gainey's defence, wanting Demitra doesn't necessarily mean he'd come here...for all we know, maybe Demitra didn't want to play here, while Kovalev did. Nonetheless, committing yourself for 4 years to an inconsistent 32 year old player isn't exactly ideal.
What can Gainey do to fix this? I'm not sure...you can't get rid of Theo unless you know you have a guy capable of replacing him. Trading him won't be easy because of his salary, but hey, some teams might get desperate in the next few weeks, so you never know. I don't think we should move Kovalev...a point per game is ok for now...I'm just concerned about the next few years. I'm all for trading Zednik, but that really doesn't help the financial situation all that much...it's more about salvaging the current season.