Greetings Habs addicts! Hope you enjoyed the playoffs and are now basking in the summer sunshine and the brief pause from hockey.
Don't worry, the draft and free agency are just around the corner so there will be no shortage of hockey talk coming up.
About a week ago, I posted an article listing five pivotal questions that need answering for the Habs this post season, and wanted you, the fans, to let me know what YOU would do as the Habs GM.
So here, in part one of five, I will start posting a compilation of some of the best answers I received with a little of my own commentary.
Before the post, however, I would like to thank all of the fans who sent in their thoughts and ideas from Hockeybuzz.com, HabsAddict.com, and the Bleacher Report including, but not limited to Tyg, Usman, bigsnake, Scott Weldon, Sharks_12, OVATION, Methodfilter, Discofunk, Crosscheck187, Brewstir, habs&islesfan, zack31, habsfans2010, African_Fanatic, Loen Harry, and so many more of you.
So, without further ado, here is a compilation of some of the best responses:
Question 1: Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price?
1. You have to move the goalie that can give you a top-six winger. I would have to guess that goalie is Jaro. If that is the case, you get a Biron type to come play with Price.
2. Trade the goalie that brings the higher return—in other words, auction-time.
3. Keep Halak as your No. 1. If Price will accept a No. 1b role and salary, then keep him too. Otherwise Price needs to go.
4. Carey Price. Don't get me wrong, I think the best short-term solution would be to keep both for at least another year in order to make sure that a) Halak isn't a one-hit wonder like Théodore and Huet, and b) Price has learned from the last two seasons and is ready to move forward in order to become a number one goalie.
Since I'm fairly certain we won't be able to keep both (mostly due to the fact that they both want to be starters), I say we sign and trade Halak whose value has never been higher than it is right now...
Gauthier needs to strike while the iron is hot!
5. Shop them both around and trade the one that gets me a better deal, preferably a big, fast, capable winger for the Gomez/Gionta line.
6. I think the issue with Halak and Price is that it is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.
The goalie that you let walk could turn into a superstar and burn your team five years down the road. No one wants that to happen. So ideally you would re-sign both of them, let them mature together and in 3-4 years see which one is better, then make a decision.
They are both very young and still have tons of upside.
Setup an auction and see which goalie can get you the highest return. While there were many advocates for keeping either Price or Halak, the consensus seemed to be to shop both of them.
In all honestly, that is likely the best strategy for GM Pierre Gauthier to follow. He has two assets of varying value around the league, who are both RFA's and who really have little leverage.
While Halak played a great season and did even better in the playoffs, the best he can hope for is an arbitration hearing, in which he gets a one-year settlement and can renegotiate with the Habs during the season.
He's got nothing except pedigree. I would make him a qualifying offer and not a penny more—No raise for him.
The problem, as many of you pointed out, is that there is the reality that both goalies want to be starters and feel that they can and should be. So, while they don't really have a lot of leverage and the Habs can likely strong arm them both into staying for at least one more year, they have to consider the psychological effect this will have on the two players.
Moreover, they have to consider the effect it will have on the team.
From my point of view, I would shop both and see what I can get in return for them. That being said, I would not necessarily trade either of them unless I saw an opportunity to significantly improve my team.
What is a significant improvement? A No. 1 center, top-six winger, or top-three defense man.
This is not to say that either Price or Halak could fetch that return by themselves, but by packaging them with some of the movable parts that the Habs have and maybe even a pick, they might be able to land themselves a nice return.
So what do you think? Do you agree with the people? Do you have a different theory?
I'll post the responses to question No. 2 tomorrow: The Curious Case of Tomas Plekanec