Jul 27th, 2011 | By | Category: Canadiens, Latest News

Last week Josh Gorges signed a one year contract and Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier settled most of his coaching vacancies.  Now Gauthier can think of heading for the summer cottage for a month or so.  

Gauthier’s summer included twenty-six separate NHL and minor league transactions plus the NHL entry draft. (You can see the chronological transaction list below

If the Canadiens elect  to carry twenty-three players as they traditionally have, there are two open spots on the roster and 5.179 million dollars in available cap space.  Members of the Hamilton Bulldogs are likely to get the first shot.  If it;’s decided that there’s no one quite NHL ready, Gauthier has room to go out and find something on the market.  With teams in salary cap trouble, there will be plenty of those available.   It’s under those circumstances that Bob Gainey was able to land Robert Lang three years ago.

……..Are the Canadiens a better hockey team than they were at the end of last season?   Without Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges and Max Pacioretty they still managed to finish eights points ahead of their total for the previous season,   Growing a hockey club is incremental.  The main building blocks have to be in place and the free-agent market then fills the gaps.   The last two seasons, following the Bob Gainey rebuild, size has been a problem and a lack of third line scoring.   Part of that has been solved with the signing of right winger Erik Cole.  Pierre Gauthier says he’s comfortable with his team heading into training camp.  He has depth in the farm system which served the team well last season when injuries started to pile up.   So, has the team been  improved?   Seems like it to me. 

…….. Josh Gorges didn’t get the long term Canadiens contract he was looking for.  There are a number of factors that prevented the two sides from coming to an agreement.  First, and probably foremost, was the question of his ability to come back from his major January knee surgery.  The Canadiens had already risked a great deal in signing Andrei Markov to a three year contract and probably felt they should take a wait-and-see stance regarding Gorges.  Secondly – the money factor.  Is Gorges really worth much more than the 2.5 million he’ll receive in the coming season.  Gorges is not big.  His skating will never remind anyone of Bobby Orr and his offensive ability is next to nil.  But, he’s a top-four defenceman and brings all of those Hal Gill-type intangibles to the Bell Centre every night. Last month, Gill signed for 2.25 million dollars.  The third issue is the farm system.  In the next three or four years there will be a steady stream of defencemen coming through the pipeline starting with Hamilton’s  Brendan Nash and Frederic St. Denis plus the rookies Alexei Yemelin and  Raphael Diaz.  Of course, after due diligence, Pierre Gauthier could pick up negotiations on a long-term contract at any time. 

…..There are a lot of factors that go into the decision-making process in the Canadiens front office.  It’s clear one of the most prominent among them is how a player fits into team chemistry.   In the last five years we’ve seen the Canadiens simply unload Mike Ribeiro, Jose Theodore, Mikael Grabosvski, Georges Laraque, Sergei Kostitsyn and now, Benoit Pouliot.  All had one thing in common.  Each, for one reason or another, had a negative influence in the team’s dressing room.   If there is one quality the Canadiens have that sets them apart is their cohesiveness.  I’m sure there are disagreements but they invariably are settled within the group.  We can credit the leadership of Gionta, Gill, Gorges, Cammalleri and a few others for being the glue behind the tightest-knit team since the Canadiens last Stanley Cup winner eighteen years ago.

Quote of the Week –  “Staying on the horse.”      Carey Price when asked by the Quesnel-Cariboo Observer about which part of his rodeo roping skills has improved the most over the last three years.

The Canadiens off-season chronology

April 27 – Canadiens lost to the Bruins in game seven of the Eastern quarterfinal.

April 28 – Forward Ryan White assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs.

May 13 – Swiss defenceman Raphael Diaz signed to a one-year two-way contract.

May 17 – Russian defenceman Alexei Yemelin signs one year contract. ($984,000)

May 26 – Centre Joonas Nattinen of Finland signs three year entry level contract.

June 1 –  UFA Defenceman Hal Gill (36) signs one year contract. ($2.25 million)

June 9 – RFA Right wing Andrei Kostitsyn (26) signed to one year contract.(3.25 million)

June 10 –UFA Left wing Mathieu Darche (34) signed to one year contract.($700,000)

June 20– RFA Left wing Max Pacioretty signed to two year contract. ($1.625 million per season)

June 20 – RFA Centre David Desharnais (24) signs one-way two-year contract. ($850,000 per season)

June 23 – UFA Defenceman Andrei Markov (32) signs three year contract.  ($5.75 million per season)

June 25– Canadiens draft Saint John defenceman Nathan Beaulieu in first round of the NHL entry draft.

June 26– Canadiens take six more players in day two of the draft, including four more defencemen.

June 27-Canadiens offer qualifying contracts to restricted free agents Josh Gorges, Yannick Weber, Ryan White, Mathieu Carle, Kyle Klubertanz, Ryan Russell and Frederic St. Denis.  Not receiving qualifying offers and thus becoming unrestricted free agents are Dustin Boyd, Nigel Dawes, Benoit Pouliot, Alexandre Picard and Tom Pyatt.

June 29-The rights to potential unrestricted free agent James Wisniewski traded to Columbus for a 7th round draft pick (upgraded to fifth round pick when Wisniewski signed with the Blue Jackets).

June 29-RFA Defenceman Yannick Weber (22) signs two-year one-way contract ($850,000 per season).

July 1st – UFA Free agent goaltender Peter Budaj (28) signs two year contract. ($1.125 per season)

July 1st – UFA Right Wing Erik Cole (32) signs four-year contract (4.5 million per season)

July 4th  – Forward Brock Trotter  (24)signs one-year two-way contract.

July 5th–   Goaltender Peter Delmas (21)signs three-year two-way entry level contract.

July 5th– UFA goaltender Nathan Lawson (27)signed to one year contract.

July 7th– Forward Michael Blunden (24) acquired from Columbus in return for Hamilton forward Ryan Russell.

July 7th – UFA forward Brian Willsie (33) signs one-year two-way contract.

July 13th –  RFA Forward Ryan White (23) signed to one-way one-year contract. ($625,000)

July 15th – RFA Defenceman Frederic St. Denis (25)signs one-year two-way contract.

July 15th – Defenceman Mark Mitera (23) acquired from Anaheim for Hamilton defenceman Mathieu Carle.

 July 22ndRandy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur promoted from Hamilton Bulldogs to Canadiens coaching staff.

July 22ndClement Jodoin hired as head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs.

July 23rd – Defenceman Josh Gorges signed to one year 2.5 million dollar contract avoiding arbitration.


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