Posts tagged ‘Compliance Buy-out’

July 2, 2013

Fool’s Gold: The Canadiens Should Ignore Vincent Lecavalier

by Jacob Saltiel

Why the long face?


Little more than a year since he went to work for the Canadiens, Marc Bergevin’s established that he’s one of the more patient general managers. Left with a roster of some quality young and veteran players alongside some very unfortunate contracts, Bergevin acted deliberately to give the Canadiens roster flexibility. Unlike mad scientists such as Paul Holmgren or Glen Sather, who seem to make big moves for the sake of making big moves, Bergevin’s restrained himself from making any silly deals at the trade deadline or the draft. Having just finished buying out another of Pierre Gauthier’s mistakes in Tomas Kaberle, why should Bergevin rush to meet Vincent Lecavalier’s rumoured contract demands? 4-6 years at $4-5m/year is a lot to pay for a 33 year old’s past-production.

Cap Cloggage

As of now, the Canadiens have a little more than $9m available in cap space, though they only have 10 forwards signed for next year. Barring a shocking trade, Bergevin has 8 defencemen and 2 goalies under contract, so, if he wants to use all of that space, he’ll need at least 3, and possibly 4 more forwards to fill out the 3rd and 4th lines.

Lecavalier would take up more than half of that space on his own, and the Canadiens already have 3 centres who should play offensive roles in Toms Plekanec (who just might be better than Lecavalier in this point in their respective careers), Lars Eller (who just might be developing into a better player as you read this), and David Desharnais. Acquiring Lecavalier would force the Canadiens to trade one of those 3, meaning goodbye Desharnais. Bergevin would be left trying to unload the contract he just signed Desharnais to, and after a year in which Desharnais struggled, too.

While Lecavalier’s a bargain in comparison to that $7.27m/year cap hit for the rest of recorded time he carried in Tampa Bay, $4-5m/year for 4-6 years of commitment to a player who will only decline at this point in his career is dicey for a team that’s still several players away from being a Cup contender.

Quite simply, Lecavalier isn’t worth that money to the Habs unless you strongly believe that he’ll make the difference between a parade and not in the next few years. Does Bergevin?

Repatriating a Professional Hockey Athlete

According to that Lebrun article above, the Canadiens must be serious about adding Lecavalier: “The Habs, by the way, had owner Geoff Molson, GM Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien in their meeting with the hometown boy.”

Sure, Bergevin could just be gauging the market for Lecavalier without intending to go as high as Lecavalier’s asking price, but what are they hoping to get out of him exactly?

Lecavalier posted a -6.03 CORSI last season on a weak Tampa Bay team. Notice that even Stamkos only had a 1.99 CORSI and you realize that Lecavalier’s numbers were probably being dragged down a bit by his team’s shoddy defence. All this means is that while Lecavalier’s been on the ice, the other team’s had a decent advantage in scoring opportunities. Of course, this is just one year’s example. More distressing is that the last time Lecavalier led Tampa Bay’s centres in CORSI was during the 2009-2010 season. The year after that, he was far behind Dominic Moore (!) in CORSI, with a 1.91 rating compared to Moore’s 9.25.

The discrepancy there might be that Lecavalier faced tougher competition, but since the emergence of Steven Stamkos, Lecavalier’s numbers haven’t improved as other teams began to focus on the younger star. In theory, Lecavalier should be facing softer competition and providing more scoring opportunities against the competition than he’s giving up on his own goalie.

Regardless, Lecavalier believes he still has what it takes to play against top competition, and said as much in Arpon Basu’s article on about his free agency: “I believe in my abilities and I think I can be a top center for a team,” [Lecavalier] said. “It remains to be seen what the other teams think of me, but I have confidence in my abilities.”

The numbers above suggest otherwise. One hopes that Bergevin, along with the assumed legion of fans who lust for Lecavalier, isn’t interested in sigining Lecavalier simply because it would look cool to put him in a Habs jersey. Actually, that would be pretty cool if it was for a year or two at a reasonable cap hit, but, as indicated, Lecavalier’s looking for term and dollars.

Move Along

Given the problems associated with signing Lecavalier and the very real possibility that his days as an elite centre are over, Bergevin should pass. Considering the contract that Lecavalier reportedly wants, how much of a difference will there be between that contract and whatever David Clarkson or Ryane Clowe end up receiving? While Clarkson and Clowe have not historically been as good as Lecavalier, they both fill actual holes in the Canadiens lineup, in that they play the wing- the Canadiens need a Ryder replacement- and both of them are big and tough. Lecavalier’s big, but he’s not particularly gritty, and seems to have been struggling defensively in recent years. Additionally, both are younger, and on a contract of similar term to Lecavalier’s are much more likely to provide value for most of the years of those deals.

Lecavalier’s a declining asset, no matter how much promise he showed as an 18 year old rookie 15 years ago or how successful his career in Tampa Bay’s been. Steve Yzerman had to pay him to stay away in the hopes of improving his team. If Lecavalier won’t take more of a bargain than he’s asking for, it’s unclear why the Canadiens, or any team really, should re-do the mistake the Lightning just corrected.

Let’s see more of that patience, Bergevin.

January 15, 2013

Gomez is Single, Any Takers?

by Jacob Saltiel

Playing With House Money

For the last three seasons Gomez hasn’t been bad; he’s been awful. Despite how poorly he played, the losuy perception of his value is magnified several times by the approximately $7.3m contract he’s on the verge of being bought-out from.

It’s extremely tempting to say that there is no way Gomez will merit even a sniff of interest from other teams if he becomes available, but he does have a history- certainly not a recent one- of producing offence when playing alongside talented linemates. Please note that this does not mean BGS thinks Gomez is a valuable player, only that some teams might sign him for almost nothing to see what happens.

On a minimum contract, then, might there be a team out there that can put him to work on a 2nd-line and hope for signs of life?

After combing through depth charts and throwing out all of the teams that have absolutely no use whatsoever for Gomez, here’s a list of sixteams that might be interested. This isn’t based on any rumours floating around the internet, only teams that lack centres at the moment. Some of those listed are more plausible than others:

– Buffalo Sabres: Actually, with Roy gone, Hodgson and Leino have to share the 1st and 2nd spots up front. Hodgson’s still young and Leino might not be very good at all. It’s unlikely, but it’s within the realm of possibility that Regier picks up Gomez as a veteran safety net.

– Calgary Flames: With Jokinen gone, the Flames’ top centre at the moment is Cammalleri– assuming he’s moved back to the middle. Backlund hasn’t shown much of anything, and Roman Cervenka is a total unknown. Gomez could be picked up by Feaster to dish to Iginla, given the lack of other options.

– Columbus Blue Jackets: The Jackets are terrible, and last year they played Brassard more minutes than he may have deserved (-20 +/-), regardless of anything Allan Walsh says. Right now, they have Johansen, Umberger, and Anisimov playing for their top-two centre spots, and not much else. They’re an injury away from getting their heads turned by Gomez. Most importantly, Howson’s still the GM, right?

– Minnesota Wild: They have Koivu on the top-line and probably want to keep space open for Granlund. Having said that, without much depth down the middle, they may toy with the idea of reuniting Gomez and Parise, especially if Parise expresses fond memories of their time in Jersey together to management.

– New York/FutureBrooklyn Islanders: With Nielsen, Bailey, and Tavares down the middle, I’m not sure where Gomez fits, unless it’s in the Doug Weight, Crusty Veteran role.

– Phoenix Coyotes: If no young centres establish themselves in Phoenix behind Hanzal and Vermette, it’s possible that Gomez gets brought in to pass to whatever it is that constitutes Phoenix’s top-line. Dave Tippett, the Macgyver of NHL coaches might be the only one capable of getting anything resembling competency out of Gomez at this point. On a bargain deal, it’s right in Phoenix’s wheelhouse, too.

I’d be surprised if any other teams bother checking in on Gomez, even the Devils, since they have Henrique, Zajac, and the still-productive Elias.

So, good luck out there, Gomez! You’re about to find out just how much your agent is worth…

January 15, 2013

Here’s Your Money Now Go Away: The Canadiens and Compliance Buyouts

by Jacob Saltiel

Why won’t Bergevin return my calls?

Gomez we know about. The Canadiens will still have another compliance buy-out to use after the season, and unless Kaberle or Bourque retire, they might be strong candidates to be paid to play hockey badly somewhere else.

Who should it be? While many may hope that Kaberle is given the golden handshake next, due to his propensity to go into anaphylaxis when asked to play his position competently, Bourque will actually be a much better player to expunge from the salary record. Unless, of course, he can show something (anything!) this season.

Having covered Kaberle’s contribution to the Canadiens here, let’s examine Bourque’s.

Rene Bourque: To Play or Not to Play, That is the Question

The Habs desperately need a big winger who can score and play on the 2nd line with Plekanec. Prior to last season, Bourque had scored 27 goals a season for two straight years. Bourque also stands at 6″2 and weighs over 200lbs. After East-Rivering Cammalleri last season, it looked like the Habs might have located a player who could do just that.

Wow, did that ever not happen. After arriving in Montreal, Bourque scored 5 goals in 38 games, and gave hope to all the casual fans in the city that they could one day fumble passes directed at them by Plekanec. All this despite playing the 6th most minutes per game for Habs forwards at 17:49/g.

This season, that 2nd line wing spot is still tantalizingly available, and those goals need scoring more than ever if the Canadiens are going to make the playoffs this year. If Bourque can play like last year was a horrible dream that he’s awaken from, then Kaberle’s as good as gone. Otherwise? Not so much.

Heres why:

Rene Bourque is signed until 2016. 

Think about that. Think about 4 more seasons of watching him make children cry and grown men curse with his lackadaisical play, and even if- even if!- Kaberle’s cap hit is nearly a million more than his, Bourque’s 3.33m/year salary lasts far longer than Kaberle’s.  The only players signed for longer than Bourque on the Habs today are Pacioretty, Gorges, and Price. Bourque, 31, doesn’t play with the grit or have the defensive awareness to play on the 3rd or 4th lines, and will essentially be a handicap on the team’s spending until 2016.

2016.  Four more years. That’s a long time.

It comes down to what the team thinks will be more valuable: Kaberle’s expiring 4.25m contract in 2013-2014 as a trade chip or Bourque’s contribution to the team as a 2nd-line scorer.

Whether or not Bourque can improve his play from last year, it may still be worthwhile to buy-out his contract since he’ll be 35 at its conclusion. Unless Bourque lights up the league during the shortened season and shows some hitherto unseen-at least in these parts- spring in his skateboot, Bergevin would be wise to keep and then attempt to trade Kaberle’s contract to a team facing a cap crunch next year. The cap drops next year, and it’s unclear what the cap will be the year after that since it’s tied to the new revenue split. It’s entirely conceivable that some teams could make use of an expiring $4.25 million contract. Buying-out Gomez and Bourque will still save the Canadiens approximately $10.5 million in cap space anyway. Do you know what any team does not want in a situation in which the salary cap can come down? Being tied into 4-years of a player who can’t contribute.

Buying out Kaberle would save the team less than a million dollars more, which wouldn’t be worth taking their chances with Bourque for 3 more years beyond Kaberle’s departure.