Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why Gainey should be open to trading Carey Price

These being the dog days of summer (if you can call this weather over here summer), I have been spending more time reading blogs and discussion forums looking for Habs news. As I did, I noticed a couple of recurring themes:

1) Habs fans desperately want to trade for someone they can talk about (it would help if the player was also good as well as interesting or controversial); and

2) Habs fans are not willing to give up their prized assets (mostly Price, Higgins and Komisarek)

Like other fans, I too long for a player that would really become a star in Montreal. I'm not sure if Marleau could be, but maybe Lecavalier or Hossa could be. Who knows. Obviously speculating is 80% of the fun. However, I'm also not under the illusion that trading a combination of Dandenault, Bouillon, Ryder, Plekanec and Halak will fetch us anyone of the calibre we are looking for.

That is why I am beginning to think if our real desire is a star, one like Lecavalier (I'd like Iginla), then we have to bite the bullet and give up something another team actually wants or needs. So, below I present to you my rationale for trading Carey Price:

1) His value as of this moment is very high. You can argue that it might go higher, but you can not argue with the fact that he is currently looking the best he did since being drafted. If a GM rates him as highly as Habs fans, we should find himand make a trade with him. If we can get franchise player return (in the form of established star or stars) for him as a potential franchise player, then we're just as well off.

This point really encompasses all the others, and is the most important.

2) World Juniors success should not be extrapolated to NHL success. First of all, the WJC is 6 games long. Carey Price won 6 games! But, don't forget he won them playing for Canada, not Slovakia, not Germany, not Ukraine. Canada beat Sweden (2-0), USA (6-3), Germany (3-1), Slovakia (3-0), USA again (2-1 in SO), and Russia (4-2).

It's not unipressive, but consider Russia beat Czech Republic (3-2), Switzerland (6-0), Belarus (6-1), Finland (5-0) and Sweden (4-2) before losing to Canada.

So in those five games before the final Carey Price let in 5 goals with 2 shutouts, whereas the Russian goalie let in 5 goals with 2 shutouts. But who's talking about Semen Varlamov?

Canada has won the WJC 12 other times in the past 25 years. A look at the winning goalies shows that WJC success doesn't mean NHL superstardom (although Theodore was the exception for about 6 years):

1982 – Mike Moffat (3-0-1, 1.75, 1 SO)
1985 – Craig Billington (3-0-2, 2.60, 1 SO)
1988 – Jimmy Waite (6-0-1, 2.29, 0 SO)
1990 – Stephane Fiset (5-1-1, 2.57, 0 SO)
1992 – Trevor Kidd (4-1-1, 2.25, 1 SO)
1993 – Manny Legace (6-0-0, 1.67, 1 SO)
1994 – Manny Fernandez (3-0-0, 3.33, 0 SO)
1995 – Dan Cloutier (3-0-0, 2.67, 0 SO)
1996 – Jose Theodore (4-0-0, 1.50, 0 SO)
1997 – Marc Denis (5-0-2, 1.86, 1 SO)
2005 – Jeff Glass (5-0-0, 1.40, 1 SO)
2006 – Justin Pogge (6-0-0, 1.00, 3 SO)

3) The Calder Cup while being a great achievement is not the barometer for great NHL goalies either. Facing AHL players is not the same as facing NHLers. Incidentally, the last 6 Butterfield trophy (Calder Cup MVP) winners have been goalies. Once again, the list doesn't exactly inspire, though they are a nice list of prospects: Pasi Nurminen, Johan Holmqvist, Wade Flaherty, Antero Nittymaki, Frederic Cassivi and Carey Price.

Even with all the talk about Price's achievements mirroring Roy's, it's interesting to note, Roy did not win that trophy – good ole Brian Skrudland did.

4) The age of goaltending might have passed.

In the 1990s and before the lockout, a lot of Stanley Cups went to the team with the best goalie: 1993 Roy, 1995 Brodeur, 1996 Roy, 1999 Belfour (nearly Hasek), 2000 Brodeur, 2001 Roy, 2002 Hasek, 2003 Brodeur.

The last couple of years have made forwards look useful again. Buffalo and Ottawa are thriving, and no one would argue Emery or Miller fit in the Roy and Brodeur's category. Edmonton made the final with a half decent goalie, so did Carolina. Giguere is good, obviously, but watching Anaheim made the fact that Pronger and Niedermayr being there help a lot.

Obviously if Carey Price is another Roy, Brodeur or Hasek, we'd still be in business. But, at this point that's all still speculation.

5) He's deemed untouchable. Letting a GM finangle him out of Gainey in a trade makes other GM feel great. He got an untouchable out of Montreal. Said GM, will probably pay more for the trouble as well – you only have to look at Kevin Lowe to see how some GMs overrate potential.

Trades are all about timing.

One day, Carey price gets you Vincent Lecavalier.

A bad training camp later, he'll fetch Milan Hejduk.

And, heaven forbid, a whole bad season, we're trading for a draft pick.

Take the example of Jose Theodore. Back in 2002, with goalie prospect Garon in the pipeline, I thought: Theodore for Iginla, how about it? Hart trophy winner for Hart trophy runner-up, Vezina trophy winner for Art Ross. I guess Calgary might not have gone for it, nor Montreal for that matter. But it didn't look crazy at the time. A few years later, you have to pay with draft picks to get someone to take Theodore of your hands.

We had the same opportunity with Ribeiro, who I thought topped out with 60 odd points. We traded him after a bad season instead.

Now, please don't get me wrong. I think Carey price looks pretty sure fire. I was as pleased as anyone about him winning the WJC and Calder Cup. But, one of the reasons I was pleased is that his value grew immensely. After a mediocre and a decent junior season, his value needed the boost.

I'd also be happy if we kept him. However, if the right offer comes up, I think Bob Gainey should listen and, indeed, take it. There's no room for being sentimental on a 10th place team. Sentimentality is for dynasties. The same thoughts of course apply for both Higgins and Komisarek. If someone sees more value in them than Gainey does, he should deal up. The one thing I do dread is trading one of these people for someone who is also overrated, what we need to get back is a known quantity, a star. Not a bigger gamble.

The possibility of trading a future goaltending great might be a dilemma, but it is a nice dilemma to have after the cupboard has been so bare the past few years.


  1. That could be Gainey's best move ever or is worst. I don't think he would even consider trading such a prized prospect. Not before knowing him better.

  2. Yeah, exactly right. But if we get someone as proven as Lecavalier, how bad could it be? If we wait to see more of him and he can't keep up his outstanding achievements, his value will instantly drop.

    So is it worth the gamble now?