As the gap between the Montreal Canadiens and Mats Sundin widens by the hour, there are not many options available to help GM Bob Gainey land the ideal big center to complete the 2008-2009 team's edition.
I don't think hopes are totally gone. But considering the offer made by Vancouver of $20 million for two years and, most of all, the fact that Sundin himself doesn't even know if he wants to return to action for the upcoming season, I think Montreal needs to have a back-up plan.
If Montreal fails to sign him, they will be in for a challenge. The pool of available good players (center) has thinned out since Hossa turned his back on the Pens (who offered him a multi-year contract at over $7 million per year) to join the Detroit Red Wings for a $7.4 million in a one-year contract.
From the pool of available good players we find:
RW—Teemu Selanne: It was reported that Koivu was trying to romance Selanne to join Montreal.
C—Peter Forsberg: Somewhat too fragile.
C—Joe Sakic: Will retire in Colorado.
C—Bryan Smolinski: Wasn't a consistent player last season, but still managed to score a few important goals.
C—Josef Vasicek: Big player.
RW—Georges Laraque: Oh yes...HUGE player who can somehow play hockey.
LW—Markus Naslund: Risky?
If I were in Gainey's shoes, I would probably keep the team the way it is (unless Sundin decides to head to Montreal). I would try to go get the missing link through a transaction during the season.
I truly believe Sundin should seriously consider coming to Montreal. Let's just look at his situation and the best-case scenario.
He played for the two teams that were and still are the greatest rivals to the Habs (Maple Leafs and Nordiques). In his 18 year career, he never won the Stanley Cup. Last season at the trade deadline, Toronto wanted to trade him, but Mats refused to waive his no trade clause.
Sundin signs with Montreal for two years at $7 million a piece. This season the team does as well as last season and ends in first or second in the East.
Then going into the playoffs, the team's chemistry is just great and Montreal reaches the Stanley Cup Finals. Imagine the frenzy in Montreal. Imagine Montreal winning the Stanley Cup on its centennial year. Wouldn't Sundin be happy to finally win the cup and be part of the greatest team's history?
Come on, Mats! You still have at least two years of good hockey in you! Just look at Chris Chelios. Come to Montreal and you will not regret it. I am positive about that.