Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Does three goalies constitute depth?

On the day former Habs prospect Christopher Heino-Lindberg is due to face the pride of Ljubljana and his Kings as they moonlight in Central Europe. I thought it was fitting to address the rumours of a trade with the west-coasters.

Whether it’s full-time random rumour generators or casual fans, 3 goalies in Habs camp seems to equate to trade these days. We’ve been hearing for some time that Halak would be traded to San Jose or Los Angeles (real trade rumours always implicate the teams furthest apart geographically, remember? – hey where’s Anaheim?). Others want to wait and then trade Huet as soon as the boys prove their worth.

Our goaltender depth, if you go by the chatter in the air, is unprecedented in Habs history, maybe even the NHLs. After all, we do have Cristobal Huet (all-star), Jaroslav Halak (21-year old AHL success) and of course Carey Price (junior all-world golden child).

I think the depth is nice, and things are looking up for the Habs; however, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We were talking about great depth last year too, with Huet and Aebischer. We know how shallow it looked in February. Furthermore, an injury and we don’t have much depth, two injuries and we are panicking. Halak and Danis on the big club anyone? How about Cedrick Desjardins? We’ll start callin LA about their AHL goalie.

Basically, I don’t think Gainey should be openly looking for a trade. Simple.

- Danis is the only expendable body in the mix, and his value (judging by his safe passage through waivers) is higher to all of us than it is to opposition GMs.
- Huet’s value is not very high right at the moment and would only take a hit if his GM were making calls trying to unload him
- Halak is a prospect, plain and simple. Apart from last season (which some GMs may view as an anomaly), his value is not great either
- Price has value. It’s high. But there’s no way we should actively shop him. We have to play hard to get if we deal this one and draw out more than Rucinsky and Thibault in return (apologies to Kovalenko…)

As it stands, we have a nice situation for the team. Huet and Halak/Price with the Habs, then Price/Halak with the Bulldogs. Their status means they could be shuttled up and down without clearing waivers, which is a huge plus. Danis, not so. He has to clear waivers to make the jump. The waiver-free movement makes keeping both Halak and Price very sensible.

Now, if someone comes offering a top offensive talent or defense prospect – for the sake of argument let’s say Jack Johnson – then we should listen.

Even then, I would hope to get an NHL-capable goalie with waiver-free movement capability in return to keep that flexibility. After all, management has worked hard to create depth so the Montreal Canadiens can win. If a trade gets us closer to winning, and hurts the Bulldogs, so be it. If we trade a top goaltending prospect for a top defenseman/forward prospect and more, then so be it.

In Bob we trust, right?

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