TSN’s Bob McKenzie, who’s reports ultimately turn out to be more than the run-of-the-mill rumour, started tweeting yesterday that Josh Gorges was to be included in a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The problem is, Gorges has a conditional no-trade clause in his contract that excludes any deal involving another Canadian franchise, including of course, the Leafs.
Gorges confirmed to the Journal de Montreal that he had been approached about the trade. “I have never asked for a trade, this is the call of Marc Bergevin. I am in total shock.”
At the same time, La Presse is reporting that the Canadiens have shown interest in signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Dan Boyle. According to Boyle’s agent George Bazos, Boyle is one of five teams that his client is considering. “The Canadian seem very interested in Dan, This is a team that interests Dan because he is one of the best teams in the East”. Boyle spent the last six seasons with San Jose. At age 37 he’s looking for a two year deal at over 6 million. At his best, Boyle has been a smallish but effective puck moving, point scorer from the blueline.
Clearing salary cap space for the likes of Boyle is one of the reasons why the Habs want to move Gorges. Secondly, from the Canadiens standpoint, he wasn’t as good as we’ve seen him in past years during the last 40 games of last season and the Canadiens playoff run. And third, eventual space on defense has to be cleared for those kids that played in Hamilton last year, specifically Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu.
So far he remains adamant that he doesn’t want to play in Toronto. The Canadiens appear bent on clearing a spot on their roster for their youth. They can hold the threat of putting him on waivers, which could mean he eventually winds up in Buffalo or another of the league bottom feeders, which seems a worse fate than Toronto. At worst in the trade market, the Habs can at least get a draft choice for him from one of the 15 teams to whom he says he will report.
From Toronto McKenzie had been reporting that the Canadiens were looking for a roster player in return.
The downside of any trade move involving Gorges would be the leadership void it will create in the Canadiens dressing room. It is probable that team captain Brian Gionta will turn his back on the short term contract offer from the Canadiens for a probable multi-year deal somewhere else. Most think Gorges would have been in line to assume Gionta’s captaincy. There are still some strong personalities in the Habs room. You can pick your own favourite for future captain. Tomas Plekanec? Andrei Markov? Brandon Prust? Maybe David Desharnais?
…You have to coach the players the front office hands you and Michel Therrien’s top two defense pairings were a strange mix last season. Josh Gorges with P.K. Subban seemed a kind of odd couple, especially with Gorges’ game seeming on the the decline. Alexei Emelin continued to look out of sorts playing on his off side as a left hand shot on Andrei Markov’s right.
Logic says Subban with Markov would be a powerful left/right shot combination, but from a coaching standpoint, that is loading up your top pairing at the expense of the others which is a definite non-starter. If McKenzie is right, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is at least thinking about addressing the issue this summer. Never forget that Greg Pateryn is a right hand shot. So is Mike Weaver. If the Habs move Gorges, Weaver could take a spot in the third pairing shot blocking penalty killing role and help balance out the overall defense group. Of course they would have to come up with the two million or so that Weaver is looking for as a UFA.
…Free agent frenzy may the the least interesting part of the NHL’s off season. Most teams had been operating on the assumption that the salary cap would rise to 71.4 million dollars for next year. Earlier in the week the league and NHLPA settled on 69 million. Those lost 2.4 millions have set more than a few teams back on their financial heels. Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago have real problems. So does Toronto.
That means salary dumps and trades and there’ll be some significant talent changing hands. At the same time, there will fewer teams looking to be involved in the annual UFA signing circus.
Boston wanted to re-sign Jarome Iginla. Probably not going to happen. Meanwhile the Canadiens are floating along with 17.5 million in cap space and 18 players already signed. P.K. Subban and Lars Eller will probably take up 11-12 million of that, leaving around six million to play with and only three roster spots to fill.