Are we absolutely convinced that he is finished as a Hab? He has great skills but requires a center with creative vision playmaking skills . Pleks is more of a scorer than a Koivu, Yzerman, etc sort of player.
I wouldn't say that he's 100% finished with the club.
There are multiple options in terms of what you can do with samsonov but the best solution would be for samsonov to come back with a chip on his shoulder and with something to prove because that would open up even more options.
This way, if he still wants out of montreal, it would be easier to unload him... and if that doesn't happen, well, at least he's earned his way back into the habs lineup.
It's almost 100%. I suppose there could always be an unlikely surprise that would see him back but it seems almost impossible.
I don't really like the option to buy him out. Certainly, from Gillett's point of view it will make him cringe. Sending him to a lower level like the AHL is even worse financially.
First order of business is to try and make a trade happen. Exchange one problem for another, maybe. There has to be someone out there who believes this guy can still play at the level he displayed the season before. He really wasn't that bad with Boston and Edmonton.
I don't think it's in the best interest of the Habs to keep him but at the same time, I still see him as an ok player. Of course, salary becomes a concern and lowers his value a lot.
But hey, if Niinimaa can be traded on a $2.5M contract for a younger, cheaper and much better player, I don't see why Sammy couldn't be. Gainey just has to find someone who is just as much a sucker as he was himself this year.
Buy him out only if all else fails. If Sammy has not lost the desire to play in the NHL, he'll play next year and I suspect he will have a much better season, if only because that will be his last year of contract.