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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Story of Sergei K. and a Bag O' Pucks

So probably like many other Habs fans I was a bit surprised to learn yesterday that Dustin Boyd was placed on waivers. "Soumis au ballotage" is how I first saw it. It's not that surprising because his play so far has been subpar, or because he's already sat out quite a few games, but more because of how Mr. Boyd came to the Canadiens in the first place.

As you may recall, the saga began in the summer when Sergei Kostitsyn was finally given his walking papers in a trade to Nashville for Boyd and goalie Dan Ellis. This was of course after the Halak trade and Price was annointed the number one goalie (once and for all). Ellis, you may also recall, had no intentions of  being Price's backup, and ultimately signed with Tampa Bay, where he's gone on to whine about the difficulties of being an overpaid athlete. That left Sergei for Dustin. Now, Dustin is on waivers, shocked, rattled and surprised to be in this position.

What does this mean!?

Well, by putting Boyd on waivers, if he's not picked up by another team today, he will most likely be sent down to Hamilton. Which means the Habs free up some cap space, potentially to make some sort of move. There's been a lot of rumblings about Bill Guerin becoming a Hab, but personally I don't see it happening, given Guerin's age (he's 40) and the fact it's going to take him that much more time as a result to get up to game shape.

I think Boyd is a good, young 2-way player who has lost his way and has yet to find his "niche" -- as Jacques Martin put it. But with the Canadiens struggling to find the net, maybe something needs to be done sooner than later, and this may just be the start of something else to come. We'll see.

This could also be seen as an implied gesture of confidence to Ryan O'Byrne, who has been sitting for most of the season due to an underwhelming training camp and mostly, a lack of confidence. Although in reality,  O'Byrne is precariously close to the same situation Boyd is in. With Markov now back in the lineup all the defensemen are healthy, and Alexandre Picard, whose play has been solid, has recently been relegated to the press box. I think we can all agree that Picard is now ahead of O'Byrne in the Canadiens depth chart. Chances are, O'Byrne is going to be traded unless something else happens or someone gets injured. Personally, I'd rather see Spacek get the heave, but the chances of someone taking on his salary are next to nil.

GM Gauthier's moves up to this point have been somewhat dodgy. Last year, he made a somewhat questionable move in trading a 2nd round pick for Dominic Moore. Many, including myself, didn't understand the need for it. But that's why I'm not the GM. Obviously he saw a gap in the Habs lineup. And Moore ended up proving Gauthier right because he was a key factor in the Habs playoff run in the spring.

Then of course, the Halak trade. While Jaro has now officially hermetically sealed his net in St. Louis, the jury is still out on that one as we have yet to see the best of Lars Eller. Personally I like the kid, and he doesn't look out of place. He just needs to assert himself more on the ice and everything should be fine. I've got a good feeling about him, as I'm sure the Canadiens brass do.

Later in the summer out of the blue Gauthier signed Jeff Halpern, a veteran faceoff guru. I was puzzled because I thought Moore, who was now part of the core that seemed to help the team turn the corner and find its identity, was a better option. Now maybe it appears that Gauthier again knew something I didn't, because Halpern is having the best start of his career and is very reliable in the faceoff circle -- something the Habs needed help with. There's no way his current pace will continue, but he provides veteran leadership and a will to win. He's also somehow kickstarted Benoit Pouliot -- which ultimately could be Halpern's biggest contribution to the team -- and hopefully that will continue.

I guess ultimately the team is pretty deep in 3rd/4th line players. Moen is Moen and that's usually a good thing. Darche is playing well and Lapierre is solid if not underwhelming at times. Then there's Ryan White and Aaron Palushaj (who the Habs got from the Blues in the D'Agostini trade) both who had strong camps and are sitting by the phone.

Seems as if Gauthier specializes in making good moves that aren't evident right away. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, for now.

So...if Boyd IS picked up on waivers, the Canadiens still save his 650K salary, but they get absolutely nothing for him. Zero. Nada. Which then means the Habs got ZIPPITY DO DAH in return for Mr. Sergei. Not so good methinks. Even if Sergei is riding pine in Nashville.

Guess that bag o' pucks deal is starting to look pretty good in retrospect.

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