A wise man once said: “Some of the worst hockey decisions are made in July.” Who said that? None other than Marc Bergevin. He was obviously referring to some of the contracts issued to unrestricted free agents (UFA) when they hit the market. Yet, he too is human and he certainly is not immune to falling to the temptation of getting “free” help in an attempt to plug some holes in his team’s line-up.
The last time he did it, he signed the most sought after defenseman in the pool that year, Karl Alzner, to a 5-year contract valued at just over 23 million dollars. We know the rest. Yesterday, in order to make room on their roster for the highly anticipated return of their team captain Shea Weber, the Canadiens’ management made a ballzy decision when placing Alzner on waivers for the purpose of sending him to the Laval Rockets in the AHL. Many things have to happen in order to make that decision and it wasn’t the decision of one man.
For one thing, the Canadiens’ defensive struggles are well documented and no, it’s not all on Carey Price. Claude Julien didn’t have Alzner in his regular top-6 defensemen. Mostly, it took a General Manager to step on his pride, recognize his mistake and go to his boss to sell him on paying a player over four and a half million dollars to play in the minors. It also took Geoff Molson to not only agree to do so, but to trust Marc Bergevin and his management group that they know what they’re doing. Like them or not, it takes gutts (and deep pockets) to make such a decision, particularly that Alzner is, by all accounts, a true professional, a genuine “good guy”.
“It was more a question of ‘who can we not lose’. There are many teams struggling on the backend and we have some guys who are cap-friendly and who would be easily picked up if placed on waivers. We protected ourselves because we like our depth. And because of his contract, Karl was the guy who would be the least likely to get picked-up.” ~ Claude Julien
Is a trade possible?
A Canucks’ fan tweeted something that intrigued me… he suggested to his Canucks’ fans friends that perhaps they should trade Loui Eriksson for Alzner. It got me thinking… Would it be possible for the Canadiens to trade a bad contract for another bad contract? Let’s have some fun here folks. Let’s play GM. I put together a list of bad contracts. Unfortunately, I don’t have the players’ stats but trust me, in all cases, those guys are disappointments to their teams (or I should say, I believe they are). Here’s the list:
- Corey Perry (ANA) $8.625M – 2020-21 (NMC)
- Bobby Ryan (OTT) $7.25M – 2021-22 (NMC)
- Evander Kane (SJS) $7M – 2024-25 (Mod. NTC)
- Dion Phaneuf (LAK) $7M – 2020-21 (Mod. NTC, NMC)
- Ryan Kesler (ANA) $6.875M – 2020-21 (NMC)
- Kevin Shattenkirk (NYR) $6.65M – 2020-21 (Mod. NTC, NMC)
- Derek Stepan (ARI) $6.5M – 2020-21
- Milan Lucic (EDM) $6M – 2022-23 (NMC)
- Loui Eriksson (VAN) $6M – 2021-22 (NTC)
- Johnny Boychuk (NYI) $6M – 2021-22 (NMC)
- Erik Johnson (COL) $6M – 2022-23 (Mod. NTC, NMC)
- David Backes (BOS) $6M – 2021-22 (NMC)
- Ryan Callahan (TBL) $5.8M – 2020-21 (Mod. NTC, NMC)
- James Neal (CAL) $5.75M – 2022-23
- Marc Staal (NYR) $5.7M – 2020-21 (NMC)
So as a reminder: Karl Alzner (MTL) $4.625M – 2021-22 (Mod. NTC)
Could any of those teams need Alzner if the Habs picked up their bad contract? Could the teams do like the Canadiens and the Golden Knights and be creative by picking up some of each others’ cap hit as they did for Max Pacioretty and Tomas Tatar to make it happen?
Here’s an example which may or may not be realistic. The Edmonton Oilers are desperate on defense. Milan Lucic just can’t do himself justice with the Oilers. If Edmonton were to pick up, let’s say, $2.5 million of his cap hit (for the length of his contract until 2022-23), and the Habs kept $1.5 million of Alzner’s contract (until 2021-22), could a trade happen?
Got any brilliant ideas? Discuss below if you’d like. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the return of our captain, Man Mountain himself! Go Habs Go!