Marc Bergevin Thinking Big With Cap Space

TavaresHabs

While those having an axe to grind with Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin are all over him for not having improved his team enough during the off-season, only the Habs’ brass know what is really going on behind closed doors. The same culprits, who we constantly see on Twitter taking jabs at the organization any chance they get, are using the fact that Bergevin still has over eight million dollars remaining under the team’s salary cap to further put him down, cap space that no one around the NHL is used to seeing in early September for top spenders.

However, if you take a step back to look at the forest instead of focussing on the tree you’re facing, you will note that there are several unresolved issues involving a few teams around the NHL. For one, Matt Duchene is still a Colorado Avalanche, something few “experts” would have predicted. Then, with the recent signing of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl by the Edmonton Oilers, they are many who think that eventually, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will find another team to play for. And we have explored those possibilities and more in the latest Top Cheese edition. But then again, you have the rumblings about the future of John Tavares with the New York Islanders…

As one of the richest teams in the entire NHL, you can rest assured that the directive not to spend to the cap is not coming from Canadiens’ President and owner Geoff Molson. So this should tell fans and media members that something is up, or the strong potential of something happening is there. GMs usually move to their plan B rather quickly in the off-season as they are building their team. Bergevin didn’t do it, which should tell us that he wants to leave a door open… a big door that is.

Galchenyuk
Alex Galchenyuk

A few days ago, on August 28th, former Islanders Mike Bossy, who is still very much connected with the team, said on 91.9 Sports that the Canadiens have offered Alex Galchenyuk to them. Bossy stopped short of saying who else would be included, but if Galchenyuk is involved, common sense dictates that it’s not for a fourth liner or a bottom-two defenseman. What Bossy did say however is that he had heard that Tavares declined a $84 million dollar contract from the Islanders, a contract which would put him in the same category as Carey PriceJonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think that money is the issue between Tavares and the Islanders. On ice, the team had one season when they looked promising, but then lost a few key players to free agency and return to their old selves in the off-season. Further, it is rather unsettling for a star player to not know where to base his home. The Islanders left Long Island to play in Brooklyn… but they now want out of the Barclays Centre. To go where?

If John Tavares was to hit the trade market, you would have 30 other teams interested in his services. There are two huge hurdles however:

  1. Per his limited NTC/NMC, you can knock a list of eight (8) teams to which Tavares won’t accept to be trade to.
  2. Not every good team has the combination of assets to trade (young talented players) and necessary salary cap to re-sign him.

Is it remotely possible that Bergevin has (or has had) serious talks with Snow and has the bases of a possible trade, but is waiting for the Isles’ GM to have one last kick at the can and talk his captain to re-signing? One thing that I know for sure, it’s that Bergevin wouldn’t be leaving that much money on the table for no good reason and that, in spite of what those who hate his gut might claim. The Canadiens currently have $5.5 million dollars more cap space than the Islanders.

Expect the unexpected“…

Tavares, who will be turning 27 on September 20th, is 6-foot 1-inch and tips the scale at 211 lbs. He finished last season with 28 goals and 66 points in 77 games last season with the Islanders.

 

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Price Negotiations Begin or Be-Gone?

PriceContract

Well that didn’t take long. Merely hours after the Montreal Canadiens’ elimination in six games in the hands of the New York Rangers, fans were flooding the airwaves and Twitter looking for scapegoats for their team not moving to the second round. Astonishingly enough, most seemed to underrate the Rangers, a team who finished only one point shy of the Canadiens’ 103 points, while playing in the Metropolitan division, the toughest division in the entire NHL. 

Many jumped on the media bandwagon by blaming media’s favourite culprit, team captain Max Pacioretty, because he went goalless in the six games against New York. What they are refusing to see is that Pacioretty finished the series with 28 shots, tied with NHL lead last night with Brent Burns, who is also without a goal. Fact is that Pacioretty worked hard, had quality scoring chances but was beat by a hot goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist, who was in Vezina shape this entire series.

But Pacioretty wasn’t the only one to have the finger pointed at him, at least not by a group of so-called fans. Carey Price, in spite of a 1.86 goals against average and a saves percentage of .933, became a target for fans desperate to point fingers instead of simply giving credit where credit is due.

It is clear that fans are disappointed that their team isn’t moving on to the next round and that’s understandable. But when you read media personalities like Tony Marinaro (amongst others) pointing the finger in the wrong direction, can we blame the fans? Aren’t those media personalities supposed to know their hockey a bit more than some of the fans? Or is it at all possible that they know that feeding into fans’ desperate beliefs will bring them hits and so-called notoriety? Think about it folks!

Price’s future

Carey Price will be entering the final year of a contract paying him on average $6.5 million and the consensus is that he will be due for a substantial raise, whether it’s in Montreal or elsewhere. Since his last contract was a long term deal, the Canadiens can start negotiating with their star goaltender as early as July 1st for an extension and many seem to believe that they must reach a deal as early as possible.

Personally, I think that while Marc Bergevin will have discussions with Price and his agent, there is no rush on either side to reach an official agreement. On one side, Price has everything to gain by seeing what the market will bear for guys like Ben Bishop this summer and what the Canadiens do to improve the team for the long term. On the other side, Price is under contract and prospect Charlie Lindgren is performing extremely well in the AHL, as well as when he was called upon at the end of this season. They will want to see more of him prior to making a decision on goaltending for years to come.

Charlie Lindgren (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

One this is almost 100% sure though is the fact that Price will not be traded, as suggested by some fans. Bergevin wants to win and his chances of winning are much better with Price than with anyone else in net. Price won’t be asking for a trade either.

The only way I could see trading Price a slim possibility is if some General Manager comes with a trade offer that Bergevin couldn’t refuse, and we can all agree that this is very unlikely. Let’s say, for the sake of talking, that Garth Snow calls and offers John Tavares and something else for Price? With the likes of Bishop, Ryan Miller, Scott Darling and Mike Condon as pending UFAs, Bergevin might (and I insist on might) consider such a deal.

But if you are a betting person, you should put your money on Carey Price being the starting goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens next season. Go Habs Go!