Monday, September 15, 2008

Lessons From This Weekend's Lang Trade To Montreal

From the Puck Daddy website, by Greg Wyshynski.

Reprinted at this site to spam warnings at HIO.

The Montreal Canadiens traded a second-round pick in 2010 to the Chicago Blackhawks late last Friday for center Robert Lang. Not exactly the Gretzky Trade as far as impact goes, but still a rather interesting education on the mindset of these two teams.

Lesson No. 1: Youth is served in Chicago. The Blackhawks were talking more about the opportunities the Lang trade will give young players than the vital salary cap savings his departure provides ($4 million). Specifically, Dave Bolland and Petri Kontiola will be counted on to help the team up the middle.

Lesson No. 2: The Bulin Wall will not fall any time soon. The Blackhawks have steadfastly refused to make public a desire to ship out goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, despite his $6.75 million salary. Part of this is the fact that Cristobal Huet is a goalie who only started more than 50 games for the first time last season, so having Khabibulin around isn't all that detrimental for the first few months of the season. But more to the point, the Blackhawks are clearly feeling they are in a strong bargaining position with Khabibulin. They'll listen to offers, as The Fourth Period reports, but they won't actively shop him until the market dictates it. Wait until some team's goalie plans go down the toilet and they come knockin'. Or until Dean Lombardi just can't take the pain anymore in LA.

Lesson No. 3: Alexei Kovalev has sway in MTL. Columnist Steve Simmons of the Free Press writes: "One of the reasons the Montreal Canadiens settled on the usually disappointing Robert Lang is he played well alongside Alexei Kovalev in Pittsburgh." This isn't to say that Kovalev pushed for the trade, but would it shock anyone to see those two reunited on the depth chart?

Lesson No. 4: Contrary to reports, The Sundin Derby is not dead in Montreal. Yes, Lang is a Plan B transaction in light of Mats Sundin's inability to commit to playing in the NHL this season. But if Mats decided to suit up for the Habs this December, does anyone in his or her right mind believe Bob Gainey will say "thanks but no thanks ... we're Robert Lang men?"

Lesson No. 5: In the future, there will be no Robert Langs. A 37-year-old complimentary player making $4 million will go the way of Crystal Pepsi in this League over the next several seasons. It's already happened to Bobby Holik, who saw his salary decrease in signing with the Devils. There will be far fewer Robert Langs than there will be players like Kevyn Adams and Geoff Sanderson -- proven veterans who have been invited to camp by the Blackhawks, hoping to stick for a reasonable salary.


1 comment:

pierre said...

Chicago has a futur but they cant have a futur unless they have a proper goally to support the new kids on the block during the next few years.

Since goally dont grow on trees they decided to fix the problem a year ahead of schedule.... Huet was availlable NOW.... getting Huet for their futur is a very low risk gamble BUT getting him NOW on the other hand is where lies the gamble that Chicago decided to take this summer.

Chicago missed the playoffs by 3 points last year ... the fan's are back and the seat's prices have risen by 70% for the next season ... nothing short of a playoffs participation and the ending of a five year drought is required under those circumstances.

Getting Huet was a gamble but had a team decided to take away Kabiboulyn away from Chicago's payroll in du time Talon would have win the challenges his team was facing on both fronts,... Short term : making the playoffs this year ... Long term : having Huet in Chicago for the long haul.

By having to trade away Lang to get under the cap Talon has lost the short term challenge..... I cant see how Chicago could clinch a playoff berth next season without Lang centering their second line as he did last season, Chicago had no scoring depth last season and they have no players with the required offensive habilities to play the second center role adequately..... believe me this is a recepe for disaster.

The fans are outraged because they can see it coming ... according to them 10 wins last season were directly attributable to Lang's clinching scoring... that alone is 20 team's points at the end of a season.... Talon can speen and says all he wants about the trade.... but the facts will speak for themselves in Chicago next season.