The start of the 2010-11 hockey season is right around the corner and a certain buzz is filling the streets of Montreal but to me, the start of a new NHL season is always accompanied by a series of nagging questions.
Is this team good enough to make the playoffs? Will this team be tough enough to compete on a daily basis? What is this team missing? What would I do if I was GM?
Like any arm-chair GMs, I consistently question every single player on this roster and continuously use EA SPORTS NHL 11 as my de facto forum to make the roster changes which I feel would work best on my team.
This year however a fellow Habs blogger Shmitzy (http://shmitzysays.wordpress.com/) has thrown out a challenge to all those who listen.
The mission is to select 12 starting forwards and two guys in the press box. No rules, no restrictions other than the team must follow within the cap.
Simply put; forget who you think will make the team, tell us who you want on your team.
Now I don’t know about you but this is the sort of thing that I love to do!
I am the type of guy who longs for a gritty team. I want 12 forwards with size who can hit and drop the gloves but who can ultimately put the puck in the net.
The problem here is that it is impossible to simply make moves without parting ways with some of our D-core given the amount of cap space that they currently take up.
With that said. Here is my overhaul...
We currently have 12 forwards on one way contracts. These players include: Mike Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Benoit Pouliot, Jeff Halpern, Travis Moen, Maxim Lapierre, Tom Pyatt, Mathieu Darche and Dustin Boyd.
For arguments sake I will include Lars Eller in that mix as well.
Who I am Keeping
Cammalleri, Plekanec, Lapierre, Eller, Pouliot, Halpern, and Pyatt: All of these guys will be part of my team. I like what each of these guys brings to the table and see them succeeding given my current roster. Two of the above mentioned players will be the 13th and 14th forwards however.
Who I am Trading
Kostitsyn: He has to go. Looking around the league there are a couple of team who are in need of a LW’er. With that said the best trading partner would be the Florida Panthers. I am therefore sending Kostitsyn along with Yannick Weber in exchange for Steve Bernier.
Gomez: I really like the guy and what he has done for the team but I would still rather see an alternate player because of his production and cap hit.
I am packaging Gomez along with Gionta and sending them to Tampa Bay in exchange for Lecavalier and Malone. Salary wise these guys are fairly similar but Montreal would be taking on more term. I am perfectly fine with this given the fact that Lecavalier has to come back home.
Ben Maxwell: I know he was not included as part of the above mentioned players but I think that he is in need of a change of scenery.
I would send him to the Islanders along with Jaroslav Spacek in exchange for Radek Martinek. The Islanders need some additional cap and could certainly use some more young skilled forwards.
Maxwell unfortunately will not be making the Habs this year and so would have to clear waivers if demoted. Moving him is a necessity.
Moen: I love this guy but $1.5 million is too much for my current team on the fourth line. LA is very short on LW and can use a player of Moen’s ability. They are currently in a position to compete for the cup and lack that gritty 3rd or 4th liner with cup experience.
I am trading him to LA in exchange for a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
Dustin Boyd: Again this is a kid I was high on and has no issue taking him on my team but given the current structure the only way he has use is as a 13th or 14th forward. That position is better suited to alternative players.
Right now NJ is in need liquidating some cap space. I am sending Dustin Boyd along with the pick acquired in the Moen deal to NJ for Jamie Langenbrunner.
Roman Hamrlik: Never been a fan of the guy so have no problems with him in any other uniform. No. 44 will be shipped off to Edmonton in exchange for Sheldon Souray.
Darche: Why we ever offered this guy a one way contract is beyond me. He will be called up on an emergency level but certainly would not be part of my starting roster.
He is going to Hamilton.
Who I am trading for
Milan Hejduk: He is a UFA at season end and doesn’t exactly fit in the Avalanche’s plans. Milan carries a $3 million cap hit and could come in very useful to my team. My guess would be that he would come fairly cheap so acquiring him for the rights to Brock Trotter and Matt Carle should be feasible.
Who I am signing
Evgeny Artyukhin: He is still out there and is the prototypical 4th line forward. He brings size and toughness and could fill in on a top line for the odd shift to create some room for some of the smaller guys.
Malone-Lecavalier (C) -Hejduk : $15.2 million
Cammalleri-Plekanec-Langenbrunner: $13.8 million
Pouliot-Eller-Bernier: $4.621 million
Evgeny Artyukhin-Ryan White- Lapierre: $2.1 million
Tom Pyatt & Jeff Halpern: $1.1 million
Total: $36.821 million
Andrei Markov (A) - P.K. Subban : $6.625 million
Hal Gill (A) - Josh Gorges: $3.35 million
Sheldon Souray - Radek Martinek $6.9 million
Ryan O’Byrne $942k
Total: $17.817 million
Carey Price- Alex Auld: $3.75 million
Total Spent: $58.388 million
So there you have it. A 23-man roster that has tremendous size, skill, speed, leadership and toughness.
In my mind it is a perfect blend of veteran leadership with a number of blue chip prospects. A group of 14 forwards who play with grit and toughness yet who are defensively responsible. A combination of players with long term contracts with a number of salaries coming off the books at seasons end.
Willey was the shinning light among the wicked growing up as the lone Habs fan in Toronto. Pray to Holy Ghosts of the old forum and all shall be answered I was told, and just like that my family was transferred back to Montreal and away from the damned. Olé Olé Olé.