Sunday, October 4, 2009

If All Else Fails Part 1: Trades

The Internet is flooded with rumours of what Bob Gainey could do to help out the Canadiens now that Markov is out for 2-4 months, and we've taken another hit (although relatively minor) in O'Byrne going down 4-6 weeks with some ankle and knee problems. I still believe the best way to weather this storm of injuries is within the organization, giving our young players the opportunity to take on more responsibility, but if we're struggling after 10 games and under .500, Gainey may feel he needs to make a move to improve the offensive portion of the defensive corps. Two main trade rumours have been cropping up again and again in the last few days, and I want to explore the pros and cons of both, while adding a third option that I haven't heard anyone else talk about.

Proposed trade: This one varies a bit depending on the source, but the one I've heard most often is Liles coming our way for both Kostitsyn brothers.

Colorado's take: This trade give Colorado a slight amount of cap relief by shipping out Liles' 4.2 million dollar cap hit and only taking on 3.25 from Andrei and Sergei's small (under 0.9 million) contract as well as RFA status. That could be appealing to Colorado as they've acquired Kyle Quincey in the off season to man the powerplay, and Colorado is by all accounts, rebuilding, so a small salary would be helpful now that Sakic is retired and the Pepsi Center is rarely full. Adding the Kostitsyns also would give Colorado two solid wingers to play on the second line with Matt Duchene, both would be huge upgrades on Marek Svatos and Darcy Tucker.

Montreal's take: Coming Montreal's way, Liles would upgrade the speed of our defense for sure, and possibly play well with Spacek on the powerplay, but Liles has always been criticized in Colorado for his defensive play and his lack of a big shot. One of the major reasons for Liles' big goal production early in his career was Rob Blake's big shot on the point drawing the shot blockers to him instead. Liles is an excellent skater, but he is also very small, and for the money he's making I think i'd much rather play Yannick Weber, who has a big shot, and is more solid size wise (199 to 185 lbs respectively). Not to mention Weber is much cheaper, and we don't lose anything to get him. To be honest, I can't see this trade as anything more than a massive fleecing of Montreal which could only take place if we're absolutely desperate for Yannick Weber to get older and lose his bullet shot.

Proposed trade: Brian Campbell and Patrick Sharp to Montreal, Sergei Kostitsyn, Jaroslav Halak, Andrei Kostitsyn and a draft pick (possibly conditional) to Chicago.

Chicago's take: Chicago has been looking for a way to get out of Brian Campbell's contract since pretty much the day they signed it. Massively overhyped by the media in his contract year (a la Bouwmeester), it seems like NHL scouts were too lazy to actually check out what they were signing to a long term deal at big money. It's undeniable that with cap trouble looming in Chicago, Keith, Toews and Kane up for big raises, they want Campbell's contract out of town. In order to facilitate this they MAY be willing to trade Patrick Sharp, who they value heavily for his leadership, clutch goals and grit. Uniting Sergei Kostitsyn with Patrick Kane is an intriguing possibility for Chicago I'm sure, but at this point in his career Patrick Kane is doing just fine without our temper-mental little Belorussian. With Huet a question mark in goal, it's a possibility that Chicago would be looking at Halak as an option, but they seem to have high hopes for Antti Niemi for now. Andrei Kostitsyn could be a capable replacement for Sharp going the other way, but I don't think Chicago is in any way desperate to obtain him.

Montreal's take: I love Patrick Sharp, he's a solid player in every aspect, signed to a very reasonably salary for the next 3 seasons and easily an upgrade on Andrei Kostitsyn at this point for the second line, but I just can't see how Montreal can take on a salary like Campbell's especially after already taking on a similar salary in Scott Gomez. According to, Montreal has about 1.902 million in cap space available. If Markov's salary goes to LTIR that brings us up to 7.652 million in cap space to work with over the next 2-4 months. Sounds like a lot, but after this trade it really isn't. We'd still be taking on more salary than we're giving away after you consider we'd have to recall Curtis Sanford's 0.6 million dollar salary from the minors. We'd be left with about 0.4 million in cap space by my quick calculations, in other words, not enough for a call up in case of injury. The other problem that arrises is what happens when Markov comes back? Campbell isn't some guy who can be bought out with one year left, or traded away to a team who can eat the cap number, he's signed for 7 more seasons at the insane 7.14 million per season mark. Read that again, SEVEN seasons. Trading for Campbell would all but force Montreal to say good bye to Andrei Markov as a Canadien, as there's just no way you can find a sucker to take on Campbell's salary twice. Markov is the only tradable salary aside from Cammalleri that would put us back near the cap for next season. Terrifying thought isn't it? For purely financial reasons this trade just can not happen.

Denis Grebeshkov (my proposal)
Proposed trade: Denis Grebeshkov to Montreal, Sergei Kostitsyn and a 2nd or 3rd round pick to Edmonton.

Edmonton's take: Edmonton has 4 very adept puck moving defensemen. The one they likely would like to move is Lubomir Visnovsky, but his salary in the salary cap era makes it a far more difficult venture and Edmonton would likely have to take a loss with the trade. Grebeshkov is signed to a much more reasonable salary, and is an RFA next season, so he's both the easiest and most likely to be traded. Much has been made of the pairing of Sergei Kostitsyn and Patrick Kane, but many have forgotten that Edmonton's Sam Gagner was also part of that trio, and unlike Kane, has struggled to adapt fully to the NHL game. Sergei and Sam had major chemistry in junior and it's very likely that Edmonton would be interested in reuniting them to establish consistency from both players. If it works Edmonton could go from 2 good scoring lines to 3, which could help them compete right now in the Northwest division, which is weaker than previous years with Colorado rebuilding. The draft pick sweetens the deal for Edmonton as Grebeshkov has established himself thus far as a MUCH better NHL player than Kostitsyn. Along with this, Edmonton gains over 2 million in cap space to be used later, probably at the deadline to help put them into the playoffs.

Montreal's take: Losing Sergei at this point is probably a good thing, and to maximize his loss by bringing in a good defender like Grebeshkov at a time when Markov is down would be one of the better moves a general manager in the NHL makes all year. Grebeshkov has good size at 6'0, 209 lbs, although I've seen him listed as high as 6'2. He has a ton of poise with the puck on the blue line, and filled in great for Visnovsky last year in Edmonton on the first wave of the powerplay. He doesn't have a bullet shot, but he is an excellent skater, has great vision and passing ability, is defensively responsible and not afraid to get physical. I'm not a cap expert, but from what I've seen on other teams, when Markov comes back, only his salary for the remaining games counts against the cap. This means that in all likelihood Grebeshkov's modest 3.15 million dollar cap hit will fit right under the cap all year long. This also gives us options at the trade deadline if Markov is back and lighting it up, as we could acquire a top 6 forward for Grebeshkov for a playoff run, or keep him for depth on defense. Who knows. I see this trade as a win for both teams, and if we're really struggling 10-20 games into the season I would be delighted to see Gainey pull of this deal.


  1. I would LOVE to see the Grebeshov trade proposal happen. It makes sense for both teams and it definately helps out NOW.

  2. Campbell proposal didn't turn out so great, I can only read the first sentence before it gets cut off. Could just be my browser.

    I really like the Grebeshov proposal. I think this is probably one of, if not THE most beneficial trade option.

  3. Thanks for the feedback, try the Campbell breakdown again, I had some formatting problems as I was writing it and I just fixed them so it should be good to go now.