Montreal Canadiens: What's Ahead This Summer?
by Kamal Panesar
Greetings Habs addicts! Sorry I've dropped off the face of the Earth since the Habs were eliminated by the Bruins!
However, the rumours of me hanging myself with a chain-link of Italian sausages have been widely exaggerated.
The reality is that my wife and I are expecting our first child (a baby boy) on the 23rd of June. Ever since the Habs were eliminated, I've been immersed in renovations, painting, cleaning, assembling things, putting up fixtures and the like!
I'm not done yet and will still be in and out of the blogosphere for a bit, but I had a little time today to resurface, let you all know I'm still alive and that asap I'll be blogging again on a regular basis.
There a ton of things on the Habs' plate this summer, starting with a potential reconstruction of the back end.
Word has it that Pierre Gauthier and Andrei Markov's camp have already been in touch and that they will get down to the nitty-gritty as soon as this month. If I was a betting man, I'd say Markov will be locked up and quickly. He should come in at around $5 to 5.5 Million on a two to three-year deal.
That might sound risky on the surface, but remember that at 32 years of age, if Markov is injured again, his salary will come off the cap by placing him on the LTIR. If he was over 35 when he signed like, say, Jaroslav Spacek, then the Habs would be stuck.
As such, I think PG will pull the trigger on a new contract for Markov with a slight hometown discount.
The other name being discussed is UFA James Wisniewski, who, according to La Presse, said he loves Montreal and would want to stay. He went on to say that he is more interested in playing for a winner than just going for the big bucks, and he thinks the Habs could be a powerhouse in a few years.
That's nice and all, and I don't doubt that he means what he says, but the reality is that he will likely hit the open market. This doesn't preclude him from signing with the Habs but with Christian Erhoff—if he even hits the open market—as the only other offensive free agent defenseman to speak of, it's fair to say that someone will overpay for Wisniewski.
As such, I fully expect him to walk as a UFA, signing a lucrative $4.5 to $5 million deal with some team out there. His real value is closer to $3.5 million and, if I were GM, I wouldn't pay anything more than $4 million.
Lots of question, few answers.
But, as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, we'll start to find out what kind of team Gauthier is going to ice for the 2011-2012 NHL season.
New Sunday Shinny Podcast
In this episode of the Shinny, Gary Whittaker, Kamal Panesar, Amanda Stein and Sean Coleman do a detailed breakdown of the Habs, from players to coaches to management.
—We look at how they all performed, who should be kept, and why.
—A look around the league
—Bruins/Lightning predictions and much more!
Click here to listen in (listening time 41:26).
Kamal is a freelance Habs writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and Habs writer on TheFranchise.ca. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on The Team 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 8 to 9 a.m. Listen live at http://www.team990.com/
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