The Montreal Canadiens and more specifically, Bob Gainey are not wasting time implementing their off season plan for the 2007-2008 season. Gainey and his management team have had a very busy two weeks leading up to this week’s draft(I’m counting the seconds until Friday night and Saturday!!!). The Canadiens started their plan by being “detail” oriented with their Finnish scout, Hannu Laine advising them to sign Janne Lahti. Lahti can be a very solid third line player with some offensive punch or possibly a second line winger (the flexibility is there). I really think Habs fans will be pleasantly surprised how well Lahti will fit into Coach Charbonneau’s defensive system. I saw video footage of Lahti and he’s not shy to lay the body and was constantly on the move. They also made a minor trade by acquiring Kootenay Ice junior Ryan Russell from the NY Ranger for their 2007 7th round pick which most likely would not have garnered them a player of Russell’s skill set. If anything, Russell gives the organization a very serviceable player who will add depth to the Hamilton Bulldogs or the Cincinnati Cyclones for next season.
Bob Gainey was true to his word when at the season ending news conference, he stated that contract discussions with Pavel Valentenko were progressing very well. Gainey also stated that he was talking to Alexei Emelin about coming to Montreal but wasn’t as encouraged about his chances of getting Emelin in the Canadiens system due to his contract situation with Lada.
Fast forward a month later and Mr. Gainey already has Valentenko signed to a 3 year contract and reliable news sources (CJAD and the Gazette’s Pat Hickey) are saying that the Habs are close to signing Alexei Emelin within the next week.
Busy Bob wasn’t finished there, he was just getting warmed up!!!! The ink was barely dry on the Valentenko contract when the Canadiens announced the signing of Chris Higgins and Mike Komisarek to two year deals worth $3.4 million. These deals are extremely important as they have two key players who are happy and proud to play for the Habs. Gainey also has a better idea where his salary cap will be the next two years with only an additional $1,780,000 for both players for each year (both earned a combined $1.62 million last year vs $3.4 million next season). Higgins will probably be one of the assistant captains next year as he has demonstrated character and leadership on and off the ice. Komisarek has gotten better every year to the point where he has established himself as a shutdown defenseman with Andrei Markov on the top pairing. Smart financial deals, period!!!!
Great job Bob!! I guess you’re done wheeling and dealing for this week. HEY WAIT A SECOND!! is that Team 990 I hear reporting the Montreal Canadiens have made a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks to rid themselves of Sergei Samsonov and his $3.5 million for next year. Gainey immediately bought out Jassen Cullimore’s contract at $641,666 per year for 2 years and saved more than $530,000 per year for 2 years. He eliminated an unhappy and unproductive player while saving over $1 million over the next 2 years (he also got forward Tony Salmelainen in the deal but don’t be surprised if the Habs cut him loose as well. He will earn $750,000 next year).
Mr.Gainey and his staff have done a great deal of work in such a short period of time that I’m afraid to push the “PUBLISH POST” button for this article in fear that he might make another trade or deal while I’m writing it,……..Busy Bob take a short break until draft day!!!!! 4 days and counting, Habs fans!!!!!