The “new” NHL is coming up on its fourth season, and teams are starting to discover the pros and cons of it. One of those cons is a problem every NHL general manager would like to have—having too much talent.
This problem can usually be traced back to the salary cap and not having enough space to fit your talented players under, because their salary demands are too high.
The Ottawa Senators have had this problem since the league finished its lockout and started back up in the 2005-2006 season. Back when the cap limit was only $39 million, the club had to pick between two different defencemen, Wade Redden or Zdeno Chara.
The club was expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup multiple seasons and they did, but after failing to win, they were force to lose some key players, and are now forced to gear up for another Cup run.
The Buffalo Sabres are another prime example.
Much like the Sens, the Sabres were expected to compete for the Cup for a while, and of course they did, but years after they were forced to lose the likes of Daniel Briere, Brian Campbell, and Chris Drury. They now must also re-charge their lineup.
This year it's Montréal’s turn. But unlike past teams, they aren’t losing talent because of salary cap reasons. They are losing talent simply because they have no room on their starting roster for skilled players who could easily be playing, or at least challenging for a roster spot on a different team.
The Canadiens have two examples of that this season. Bob Gainey recently had to trade away talented, but small, forward Corey Locke to the Minnesota Wild for defencemen Shawn Belle. I expect Locke to play at least 20 games for the Wild this season, as they have lost some talent via free agency this summer.
Locke had previously played only one game for the Canadiens since being drafted back in 2003, and despite being the Hamilton Bulldogs' all-time leading scorer.
Mikhail Grabovski is another example. He was also recently traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a pick and a prospect. Grabovski had a bit more success in the NHL than Locke did, though. He played 24 games this past season and notched three goals and six assists.
Another small center, it looked as if the talented Grabovski had no place on the Habs roster, especially with the development of Tomas Plekanec and the need for a BIG, talented center. Locke and Grabovski just couldn’t successfully fill that void.
I assume that it was the players' decisions to leave the club and not Bob Gainey’s, as both players were most likely tired of not making the club permanently out of training camp. Gainey had offered them both new contracts, as both were restricted free agents this summer. Both players should have great success with their new clubs.
This offseason, the Montreal Canadiens are showing us, straight up, how you can have too much depth, without passing the cap limit.
Thanks for reading.