Friday, June 18, 2010

TGIF - But Halak to Saint Louis - Seriously?

Well, I'm glad it's Friday - how about you? That said in NHL news I'm slightly concerned about a couple of things.

1) The lack of any discussion or news relative to the extension of Capitals RFA Defenseman Jeff Schultz. Schultz was clearly one of the top four defensemen on the Capitals at the end of last season and is developing well and on pace. There is no doubt in my mind the Capitals need to give him a qualifying offer and resign him, why they haven't done so yet is confusing to me and in the absence of news - I'm worried he and his agent are hoping to get some offer sheets and they indeed get some. At the very least that will increase the price the Caps have to pay him against the Salary Cap at least the next two seasons, and at worst it could mean the Caps would see him playing elsewhere next season and the compensation they'd get under the current CBA could easily not make up for such an event. Now this time last year I would have likely been one of the last Caps Bloggers to say and write such things but I don't think Schultz has even started to reach his potential and I want him clearly in the fold for at least two and preferably 3 or 4 more seasons. I'd be more comfortable on this topic if I wasn't reading about discussions with Shaone Morrisonn - nothing against Sha-Mo, I just want "Sarge" under contract more.

2) Lack of movement in general by the Capitals in issuing their RFA qualifying offers as of this date. I would think that Caps GM George McPhee would have a pretty solid idea as to who he does and doesn't want to issue qualifying offers to now that both teh NHL and AHL playoffs are over. I'm of the same school as Steve Yzerman on this, get those offers out early and started so opposing GMs know who they will have to pay more to target and get. The Capitals have just 9 players who will be/are Restricted Free Agents (RFAs) this summer when you include known, solid prospects in Hershey. I've pretty much gone on record that if I were GMGM I'd make qualifying offers to all of them assuming I could work such a thing under the salary cap. In fact of the nine (it was ten but of course Nicklas Backstrom is "off the street" now): Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann, Boyd Gordon, Jay Beagle, Kyle Wilson, Jeff Schultz, Andrew Gordon, Chris Bourque and Patrick McNeill; the only one whose rights I'd be seriously shopping right now if I were GMGM would be Tomas "Flash" Fleischmann's. Of course, I'm also on record that I'd consider parting with any of these nine as part of a deal that could bring Blackhawk Center Patrick Sharp to the Capitals as their number two centerman. All that said, what would stop me from making qualifying offers to any of these nine guys right now - nothing, so why not as they say in Beaverton, OR : "Just Do It?"

In other NHL news - the New Jersey Devils have a new coach and the Saint Louis Blues have a new Number 1 Goaltender (assuming they can sign him).

In the case of the Devils they've finally decided to "give" former player John MacLean a chance at the reigns as the replacement for the legendary Jacques Lemaire. To me this was a far less surprising move than the Canadeans dealing Halak to the Blues. Oh and unlike the move by the Canadeans this one makes nothing but sense to me.

Yesterday's big news was the Montreal - Saint Louis trade of prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz to Montreal for Jaroslav Halak. This just made no sense to me, Halak was Mointreal's "go to guy" through the entire playoffs, yet they hung on to the guy they would trust in the net during this years playoffs. I mean even after Halak go pulled for Carey Price in the playoffs, each time, the Canadeans came back with Halak as the starter in the following game. I understand salary cap management and perhaps nobody wanted to take on Price's all edged locker room baggage, but Price is also currently going to be an RFA so why not keep both or try and see if Price would take a pay cut too? In the case of Saint Louis, the deal seems to make perfect sense. Given the glutted goaltender market this off season they can basically let 34 year old UFA Chris Mason walk, they have backup Ty Conklin signed through next season and now they have a young, solid starter in Jaro Halak who they can develop as their number 1 goaltender added to a team that has an otherwise solid young core as well. To me for STL GM John Davidson this is.was a "no-brainer" but I'm still confused why Pierre Gauthier thinks it's the right move for the Habs. Oh well, maybe it's because NHL Hockey is not my day job and somebody will explain it all to me.

Is it September yet?


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