Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Things that Won't Happen

So, I was listening to PJ Stock on the Team 990 this morning and he threw out mention of a trade rumour whereby the Canadiens would give up Michael Ryder, David Aebischer, Sheldon Souray, Mike Ribeiro, and a 1st round draft pick for Evgeni Malkin. Interestingly, a blogger at posted this same rumour later in the day, claiming that he heard it not from Stock, but from another retired player from somewhere in TMR. We can tentatively conclude two things from this: 1) It's not going to happen, since with Bob Gainey as GM the rule has been that if you hear about a potential deal involving the Canadiens then it's already dead; and 2) It probably was being talked about inside the organizations involved, given that it's turned up from two different sources (though it is possible the guy who talked to Stock and the guy who talked to the blogger are one and the same. Who knows?).

Anyway, just for the hell of it, does the deal make sense for the Canadiens? Financially, it clears away a lot of one-year contracts. Opens up some cap room for signing Markov next year, plus maybe picking up a free agent to replace the depth they lose in the deal. From that angle, yeah.

Malkin over Ribeiro is a no-brainer; Malkin's the big, talented forward the Canadiens desperately need. Losing Ryder is tough; he scored 30 goals while playing through an injury. But the Canadiens are deep in prospects on the wing, so they can likely deal with it, and if worst comes to worst, they could sign Dumont (personally, I hope the worst doesn't come to the worst, but hey). Losing Aebischer puts a lot of weight on Huet's shoulders, but if you believe in Huet you go for it -- especially since Yann Danis can't clear waivers, meaning you kinda have to carry him on the team one way or another. So: vast improvement at one position, marginal step back at one, potential headache cleared up at another.

And now we come to Souray and the 1st rounder. The Canadiens aren't that deep on defense as it stands -- they could probably use a good top-4 d-man right now. Giving up Souray hurts bad; I feel he's more of a poor-man's Jovanovski than people realise. Physical presence, offensive potential ... also, granted, tendency to misread plays, but still. Not Jovanovski's level, but along those lines, and certainly a damn useful player and a key part of the defensive core. I don't know how the Canadiens would replace him. And a first-rounder, in what's supposed to be a very deep draft year? Here's where we get into the dicey waters.

I think I could stand the loss of the first rounder if I'm sure I've got a replacement for Souray somewhere. Or if the first rounder could get knocked down to a second. It's still arguably a good deal, though not the slam-dunk great deal some people think it is -- stars are highly overrated in the NHL. This is a team sport, where depth counts. Except ... sometimes you give up depth to get the right star, a guy you can build your team around or who complements the players you already have.

So. Risky deal. Could be good, could be bad, almost necessitates at least one more transaction afterward to fill a hole. But it does give the Canadiens that star power ... and a line of Kovalev-Malkin-Samsonov would be pretty sweet.

Anyway, it won't happen.

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