Habs Mailbag: Price HHoF, Canadiens Potential Buyouts, Draft
Welcome back to another edition of the Montreal Canadiens mailbag!
This week we delve into some fairly intense questions, including whether Carey Price is worthy of being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, as well as potential buyout candidates.
Let’s dive right in.
Do you see any buyouts coming? Or think they will avoid that at all cost ?
— Jerry Howie (@jerry_howie) May 5, 2023
We discussed the possibility (and logic) of buying out Joel Armia‘s contract on Thursday, a move that would free up a healthy amount of salary cap space going into next season.
Remember, despite having roughly $19 million in available funds once Carey Price is placed on the long-term injured reserve, the Canadiens only have 35 players signed to standard player contracts, with both Cole Caufield and Rafael Harvey-Pinard due for significant raises.
I don’t see any better buyout targets than Armia, who has two years left on his contract that carries a $3.5 million annual average value. In retrospect, the Armia contract is the exact type of deal NHL teams must avoid if they are to maintain a healthy salary cap situation. It was too much for too long, based on a ‘great’ playoff performance which wasn’t remotely close to being great. It also left the Canadiens in a situation which prevented them from re-signing Artturi Lehkonen.
Overpaying for bottom-six players is a sin in the modern era, especially when they can be replaced relatively easily by AHL players (think: Alex Belzile).
If Kent Hughes and Co. are deadset on creating more salary-cap flexibility, they can look into buying out Mike Hoffman. His buyout would save the Canadiens $3.33 million next year while costing them $1.66 million the following season. But honestly, I don’t foresee the Canadiens taking the buyout route with Hoffman. He has one season left on his current contract, and despite all the criticism he received in Montreal this year, he was one of the most productive Canadiens forwards.
There are two other possible candidates, but again, they’re unlikely to get bought out. Brendan Gallagher is one of them. It would save the Canadiens a significant amount of cap space in the next four years, but afterward, would cost them dearly for roughly half a decade. It’s just not a move that makes sense. At least not now.
Christian Dvorak is the other player worth investigating. His buyout would save the Canadiens a little under $4 million until 2024-25, then cost them roughly $2 million the following two seasons, however, I don’t think he’s quite at the point where you should pull the plug on his time in Montreal.
Is Carey Price Hall of Fame worthy?
— Mick (@Mick_Chow) May 5, 2023
I tend to avoid Hall of Fame questions in Montreal, because, frankly, people in this city have lost touch with what the Hockey Hall of Fame, or a jersey retirement should represent.
It’s not a team honour. It’s an individual honour.
And while the legends of the past in Montreal certainly deserve their place among the pantheon of hockey greats, we simply cannot compare the results from modern players to those who were fortunate to play on some of the best teams in the sport’s history.
If we maintain the unrealistic standard that was set many decades ago, no other player in Canadiens history would be considered worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame, or to have their jersey retired.
Not only would this be a disservice to the players that put their bodies on the line for the Canadiens, but it would also erase entire generations of players, which is rather insulting to the fans that spent their hard-earned money to support the modern-era teams.
As for Carey Price’s place in the Hall of Fame, despite some suggesting he’s not a slam dunk, I think it would be ridiculous to omit him.
His NHL numbers are quite similar to those produced by 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Roberto Luongo. Not to mention, he holds the record for most wins in Canadiens history, which is quite a feat considering how many fantastic goaltenders they’ve had during their long, glorious past.
He also won an impressive number of individual awards, including the Hart Trophy, the Vezina Trophy, the Bill Masterton Trophy, the Jennings Trophy, and the Ted Lindsay Award.
On top of that, we have to consider his work in other leagues, because it’s not the NHL Hall of Fame.
Price won a gold medal at the Olympics, the U-20 World Juniors, and the World Cup.
That’s a slam dunk Hall of Fame resume if I’ve ever seen one.
Do you think Jakub Dobeš has what it takes to be an NHL goaltender?
— e – Dirby Kach (@DirbyKach77) May 5, 2023
When it comes to Jakub Dobes’ professional potential, I’d argue he is already suited for playing a significant amount of minutes, which isn’t always the case for goalies coming out of the NCAA. Being a starter is a legitimate strain on endurance, and seeing as he featured in every single game for Ohio State this season, Dobes has a head start on his competition. To give you a better idea of how much the Buckeyes relied on Dobes, we can consider the fact that he played 99 percent of the available goaltending minutes this season.
From a statistical point of view, it’s a toss-up.
Dobes’ .926 save percentage in the NCAA was good but isn’t quite as impressive as other goalies that have graduated from college hockey. Ryan Miller (0.941), Connor Hellebuyck (0.946), and Don Levi (0.942) finished their NCAA career with much better numbers. His save percentage ended up being closer to those produced by goaltenders like Jonathan Quick (0.926) and Ben Bishop (0.917).
As for his style, he’s a stoic netminder that uses his impressive wingspan and strong positioning to frustrate opposing players, which tends to lead to good results in the NHL. He could stand to improve his agility, but much like a former Canadiens goaltender I dare not name, Dobes does not waste any energy by scrambling, meaning he’s rarely pulled out of position due to a lack of anticipation.
He’s also a fierce competitor, the type of player that can’t stand losing and usually responds by putting together a string of great starts.
Some time with the Laval Rocket will serve him well, but for now, I will say that he has what it takes to be an NHL starter, but is far from ready to take the next step.
The best bet is to let him simmer in AHL for a couple of years and re-evaluate his results once there’s a potential job opening in the NHL.
Where was your best vacation?
— Melissa Leigh (@MochiMayhem89) May 5, 2023
I was incredibly privileged to visit many many countries when I was very young, however, I was too young to remember much, unfortunately. My fondest memories of a family vacation all took place in Canada when I was a little older and able to participate in all the activities.
I spent countless hours exploring the beaches in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. My fascination with wildlife was unquenchable. That meant I was constantly building pools on the beach to watch hermit crabs switch their shells or digging up rather ornery crabs from their sandy home. I loved clam digging as well.
There’s something incredibly serene about spending 12 hours on the beach, listening to the ocean’s mesmerizing soundtrack while watching the landscape change dramatically during low and high tides.
Ideally, I’d like to retire in that region, but that’s a topic for another day.
I’ve also spent a lot of time in various parks in Ontario, most notably Algonquin Park, one of my favourite playgrounds. The ideal situation is canoeing for a day or two, as to find an island campsite that is far removed from any other explorers.
And finally, I have to give a shoutout to Canmore.
It’s a picturesque town surrounded by majestic mountains and overflowing with beautiful flora and fauna.
I was lucky enough to participate in a fly fishing expedition on the Bow River, which included catching a few nice trout, and if I remember correctly, I also caught a walleye (pickerel), which happens to be my favourite fish.
We saw grizzlies, black bears, eagles and other wildlife, but the most impressive sight was a moose emerging from the bank of the river, which was a rare event according to our guide.
For those who haven’t seen a moose in person, they’re incredibly intimidating given their massive size. Think of the biggest horse you’ve ever seen, then add a foot or two of height, much more weight, and antlers that span several feet while weighing about 60 lbs, or more.
They’re also quite aggressive during certain parts of the year, which explains why moose are one of the most deadly animals in Canada.
You can wear a bell and scare off most bears, but when it comes to moose, as the poet Homey D. Clown once said, “Homey don’t play that”.
If you are Kent Hughes, drafting for Mtl this year, what is YOUR list of the top 7 targets? Same as the draft rankings/BPA? Draft for need/position? Or off the board?
— Carlo Lepage (@CLepage13) May 5, 2023
I’m a strong believer in simplifying things when it comes to the NHL Draft. Teams tend to galaxy-brain the situation, which can lead to disastrous results.
Drafting for need works in the NFL, where players are expected to immediately jump into the lineup, but hockey is a different animal.
Going off the board is fine in the later rounds, but when it comes to top 10 picks, teams should simply pick the most talented player available, full stop.
If that means drafting Matvei Michkov, the Canadiens should not hesitate.
Mark, we finally know what it's like to be let down by the Leafs in the playoffs.
Are there gems around the 29th pick that might make us forget that 17th pick we almost had?
— Michael Schatz (@TheRealSchatzie) May 5, 2023
Michael is referring to the second-round series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers hold a 2-0 series advantage thanks to Sergei Bobrovsky, which means their first-round pick, which belongs to the Canadiens, is likely to fall from 17th to one of the last picks of the round.
First off, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs bounce back. I know that’s a sin to mention in Montreal, but the Leafs really do deserve a better fate. They flat-out dominated Game 2, but ultimately lost due to the Panthers’ penchant for scoring immediately after a turnover.
However, the harsh reality is there’s no such thing as ‘deserve’ in sports.
Many Canadiens fans have decided to cheer for the Panthers, and though they’ve been harshly criticized for not looking at the big picture, I’d like to remind everyone that being a fan of a professional sports team comes with the understanding that you will throw logic to the wind. It’s a free ticket to be, wait for it…a fanatic.
Damn the torpedoes!
As for the specific prospects the Canadiens should consider, I don’t feel comfortable suggesting players I haven’t had a chance to watch more than a few times. It’s simply not enough to formulate a legitimate opinion on their potential.
On that note, I have liked what I have seen from Oliver Bonk, son of former Habs forward Radek Bonk. He should be available near the end of the first round, and he projects to be a hybrid defenceman, which is the flavour of the decade in the NHL when it comes to blueliners.
I’m not sure his offensive game will project to professional ranks, but he did manage to score 10 goals and 30 assists in 67 games for the London Knights, finishing second in defenceman scoring behind Canadiens prospect Logan Mailloux.
He’s very solid in transition and has good agility, as well as above-average gap control.
And on one final note, given my lack of in-depth knowledge, I promise we’ll cover this question with an in-depth article in the near future. Stay tuned.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1uMcJrZp0I is a clip of your vacation in Canmore!
Did you happen to get a chance to go spelunking in Rat’s Nest Cave while in Canmore? That’s a great experience for anyone to try when in the area. And nothing beats canoeing on a smooth as glass lake at sunset in Algonquin Park. That’s my happy place when I need to calm the mind.
Logan Mailloux excelss on offense but struggles on defense. He would make an excellent winger on Suzuki’s right side
To my knowledge he has zero experience on the wing and can be a force on the powerplay at his natural position. Few players have transitioned from D to forward.
Logan .mailbox is a bust . Just like every other Montreal Canadiens prospects. No names. Who have yet to prove anything. Ha haha
I see no logic in a buyout. They have cap space now so why burden them when they could be contenders? Worst case trade a bad contract with a prospect or draft pick and retain salary if necessary.
bradley nadeau…late round pick. small but could be a home run.
I’ve seen plenty of moose, as recently as last weekend driving up to Kirkland Lake. It was just standing in the middle of the road, then trotted off back into the bush as I (slowly) approached it. Never seen one emerging from water though, so that’s something special.
I watched one next to my deck in New Hampshire for about 15 minutes.
Many in Northern New Hampshire- route 2 as I recall. I think truckers refer to it as moose alley.
I have been to Kirkland lake but haven’t seen a moose there. And if I did I would not approach it at any speed.😊
In nova Scotia along a lake in the highlands.