And that is why it’s time for the Montreal Canadiens to trade him.
I can understand Bob Gainey’s reluctance. You can see Price’s potential. He’s still only 22. Somewhere in there is the goalie who stoned the U.S. in that famous world junior shootout, then won the Calder Cup in his first two months as a professional.
Also, Price has the size advantage over Halak, and the trend in net now is go big or go home. Look at Marty Turco. He still has incredible passion and desire to play. But, the biggest criticism is that he’s too small. Next year, equipment is to be regulated by the size of the goalie. That’s not good for him.
Gainey could be sending a franchise goalie somewhere else. There’s no worse feeling for a GM.
Still, there is one major thing in Halak’s favour: right now, he is better than Price and gives Montreal more of a chance to win. That should be reason number one. But there are some other considerations, too.
No matter what everyone says about these two guys making the best of it, it’s a bad situation. They both want to be number one, and, what’s worse, each believes they should be number one. When you have a young goaltender feeling his way through his first starting job, he needs an experienced backup (who understands their role) to help with the bad times. These guys don’t have that, and other guys who know a heckuva lot more than me think it has hurt Price’s development.
Price would get full value
Also, Gainey was uncharacteristically outgoing about offering Halak to Philadelphia. There were also discussions with Dallas. Who knows how many others were approached. The fact Halak is still in les bleus-blanc-et-rouge tells us the Canadiens are not being offered enough. Do you think they get lowballed for Price? No way.
Gainey could hold a silent auction. Maybe someone has to take another salary with him. Maybe he gets two or three players or picks. At least, there are some nice options.
Both goalies are restricted free agents after this season, and it’s really hard to determine either man’s value. This allows Montreal to really understand what it has in Halak. Is he a legit number one? He looks like he could be, but nothing answers the question better than starting 25 games in a run for the playoffs.
Most importantly, the organization has to face the possibility that Price simply will not develop here. Look at highlights from three years ago and compare them to now. He simply isn’t the same confident guy. He’s on his second goalie coach, and needs a fresh start.
It would be good for him. It’s a risk, but the return would also be good for Montreal.
1. How bad are things financially in Tampa? Consider the case of James Wright. The Lightning sent him back to junior last week after he played 48 games. Most fans know that once a rookie plays 10 games, it burns the first year of his entry level contract. However, what I’d forgotten was that once Wright played 40 games, he gained a season towards unrestricted free agency. Other GMs were astonished at the move, with the only logical explanation being a money-saver. While in the NHL, Wright’s salary was $570,000 US.
2. The league did a good job of protecting itself from a Koules/Barrie collapse. As blogged on Saturday night, Karen Davidson – widow of previous owner Bill Davidson – is legally responsible to step in. Also, the deal apparently forces her to make sure another lender in this mess (Galatioto Sports Partners) is covered as well.
3. One other piece of business: It will be very interesting to see how the sale of the Texas Rangers affects the Dallas Stars. Tom Hicks’ financial issues are well-documented, but there are very different opinions on whether or not unloading the Rangers will be enough. Memo to North American owners: Don’t buy EPL teams. (See Hicks & George Gillett/Liverpool; Glazer family/Manchester United.)
4. Replays: At the next GM meetings, there will be some serious debate about who should have final say on video reviews. Right now, if the War Room says “inconclusive,” the on-ice officials decide. But, after the Steve Ott Detroit/Dallas fiasco, some managers want Toronto – with all possible replays – to say yes or no. On HNIC radio, David Poile and Joel Quenneville said they want it to stay as is. Lou Lamoriello was willing to hear both sides. But, several other GMs I asked said they will push for the change.
5. What do you think of an NFL-style challenge system? One per game, to decide things like; who touched the puck last when shot into the crowd; did the puck hit the netting above the glass; or, was that goal offside? If wrong, a team would lose its timeout. Timeout already used, you ask? Delay of game penalty. Couple GMs said they’d be willing to listen. One said no, because he doesn’t want to see games going any longer.
6. Another GM, by the way, wants teams to get an additional timeout in OT.
7. I think there will be a lot of interest in Ray Whitney at the trade deadline. However, don’t be surprised if Whitney gives an edge to a team willing to re-sign him. He’ll be a UFA, and he’s got a no-trade.
8. Jim Rutherford said a few weeks ago that he wouldn’t trade Joni Pitkanen. He’s changing his mind.
9. Why I think the Molson brothers will do a great job as owners of the Montreal Canadiens: the way Geoff talked about his great uncle, the late Senator Hartland Molson. He was a beloved owner, an impeccably-dressed, larger-than-life figure, who ran his team the right way. The new generation badly wants to emulate that.
10. If you missed it in the piece, Canadiens players were impressed Geoff Molson showed up at the team’s Christmas visit. One said he’d never seen an owner do that before.
11. Loved that he said – if it happens – the team will not stand in the way of a possible NHL return to Quebec City.
12. Last year, during a playoff edition of Inside Hockey, the Sedins admitted they kept an eye on each other’s point totals. Entering this season, Daniel was at 462, Henrik 460. Wonder how much Henrik rubs it in now?
13. Mike Gillis and Colin Campbell aren’t saying much about their face-to-face meeting in Toronto (which both men deserve credit for, I guess). I’m under the impression Gillis showed some clips indicating Auger had bias against the Canucks.
14. NHLPA has 60 days to grieve the Alex Burrows fine – and it’s headed in that direction. Its position is that rule 17.4 of the CBA indicates maximum fine for criticizing an official is $1,000.
15. As for the Canucks contingent that showed up in Montreal last week for Canadiens/Blues: it was Gillis, Laurence Gilman (VP Hockey Operations and Assistant GM), professional scout Lucien DeBlois and Eric Crawford, who is the director of pro scouting. John Davidson said David Backes isn’t going anywhere, but the Canadiens have a surplus of defencemen and Vancouver could use one.
16. If, as reported, Gillis was studying B.C. boy Ryan O’Byrne, it was a wasted trip because O’Byrne played forward that night.
17. This is pure guesswork, but Paul Kariya would be a nice fit for the Canucks. (He does have a no-move, though.) Gillis, though, does not like trading draft picks. Maybe that’s why Davidson saw Winnipeg play Hershey twice.
18. Sheldon Souray confirmed yesterday what Scott Morrison and Tim Wharnsby reported: he’s going to give the Oilers a list of teams he’ll accept a trade to. (His control over the situation ends July 1.) Souray’s contract goes for two more years, with a cap hit of $5.4 million per, although his salary is $9 million total. He had a front-loaded deal.
19. In a perfect world, he’d go to Los Angeles or Anaheim. (His children live in the area.) Not sure the Kings are a fit. They have cap room (18 players signed for next year at $46 million), but the temptation to spend it on a high-impact forward will be great. The Ducks are interesting, also having space (15 players at $32.5 million) and a need for defencemen after this season. (I am assuming a Scott Niedermayer retirement, not that anyone will replace him.)
20. Any other Western teams with cap freedom and cash who need a bomber? Calgary (28th on PP)? Enough cash already tied into the blue-line. Nashville and Phoenix (27th and 24th)? No way. St. Louis (29th)? Minnesota (21st)?
21. Trade discussions are heating up. One GM said, “I got six calls on Friday. I hadn’t got that many in weeks.” Teams have finished their scouting meetings and have a better idea of where they stand and who/what they like, both in their own organizations and elsewhere.
22. One reason why teams may be reluctant to make deals before the Olympics: you still have to pay players during the break. Why add a big ticket and spend money, when he’s not dressing for you?
23. The Maple Leafs say they will take an ugly contract if the rest of the booty is worth it. Philly (a prime candidate) does not have a first-round draft pick. He’s got to get either a first-rounder or a high-end prospect to make sense. You know who’d make sense – and I STRESS I’m guessing here, too – is Tim Thomas, but he’s got a no-trade for the first three years of his contract.
24. Big question: How many home playoff dates have Boston and Calgary budgeted for? You’d be shocked at the number of panicky short-term moves based on that. (Still don’t think Bruins trade the Toronto pick, though.)
25. Darryl Sutter denies he’s shopping Dion Phaneuf. Might be true. But, he also denied Alex Tanguay asked for a trade – and that was false. As Lakers coach Phil Jackson said last week, when you’re a GM, lying is part of the job description.
26. Since the Flyers and Penguins are even on the biting, what’s next? Purple Nurples? Wet Willies?
27. Watching the Rangers stand around as Daniel Carcillo pounded Marian Gaborik reminded me of one coach saying players not standing up for each other is the easiest way to notice they don’t care about one another.
28. Will the Red Wings give up on Ville Leino? When Johan Franzen is ready to return, the team will face a cap crunch. They could send down Justin Abdelkader, but he leads them in hits (12th in the NHL after Sunday’s games). Moving Leino (even for a low-round pick) gives them room.
29. Alexei Kovalev said he had no idea about Russian reports indicating he would end up on the Olympic Team. I do believe Semyon Varlamov will be replaced (he’s injured), but there could be a huge showdown between Russia and everyone else over changing rosters.
30. Get well soon, Jean Beliveau.
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