Going into the first day of free agency, few people would have expected Bob Gainey to blow up his roster the way he did. The trade that he made prior to July 1 to acquire Scott Gomez was shocking enough, but that move didn't look like much after he went on a spending spree to sign Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Jaroslav Spacek, and Hal Gill in the span of four hours.
Initially, these signings were met with positive responses, but eventually, an overwhelming sense of pessimism overtook the Montreal fan base. Why would BobGainey, simply put, make his roster smaller? After having the most prevalent knock on the team for the past few years be that the team simply lacked size , why would you get three players that are all under the six-foot mark (Gomez, 5'11'', Gionta, 5'7'',Cammalleri, 5'9'') ?
Granted, all of these players will be major contributors to the Habs next year, but is the team necessarily better with these guys? Are these players any better than Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, or Alex Tanguay?
While we don't necessarily know the answer to those questions yet, we do know that Mr. Gainey obviously knew what he was doing , because after having signed these small players, he went out and added size and toughness to his roster.
The signings of Hal Gill, Paul Mara, and Travis Moen were key in addressing the Habs's size issue, as well as filling some holes that were left by the departures of Steve Begin and Mike Komisarek. For the first time in years, the Canadiens have legitimate tough guys who will look out for the more skilled players. Also, they now possess a legitimate checking line, which will probably consist of Guillaume Latendresse, Maxim Lapierre, and Travis Moen.
I applaud Gainey for letting go of most of his UFA's. Although these players were very popular with the fan base, let's face it, the team simply wasn't getting any sort of success with these guys.
With many young players coming into their own, a bigger blueline, and more talent up front, there's no reason to not think that the Habs will make the playoffs this year.