Well, the pain and suffering of watching the Habs lose game after game is gone, now it is just time accept the fact that the Habs will not win the cup this year (well we already knew that), and that I won't be able to sit down and watch a Habs game till October.
I had thought of simply looking forward, and looking at the future and sharing my opinion on it without having to look back at the 2008/2009 season. I then realized that to back every one of my opinions on this post, I will need to flashback to the 2008/2009 season, and evaluate the suck. I hope that management reviews this season over and over again so that history doesn't repeat itself.
Anyways, as most people already know, Bob Gainey placed himself (or Montreal's next GM) in a very strange position. He will be dealing with 10 unrestricted free agents and 3 restricted free agents. Here's what I think will happen this summer:
1. Alex Kovalev: Kovy is not made to play in Montreal. Everybody in Montreal has witnessed his skill at a consistent rate last season, and this season, he did the complete opposite. In a very high pressure and critical hockey city like Montreal, it becomes pretty difficult to let things like that slide. As most people know, Montreal isn't a very forgiving hockey city. I'd like to see Kovy come back for 3.5 million or less (which is unlikely to happen). The GM will know how much the media's focus on Kovy will become a distraction to the team and will most likely low-ball Kovy. I highly doubt that Kovalev wants to play in Montreal after this years terrible season
2. Saku Koivu: I really like Koivu as a player and as a captain. I know many people may object to both things that I just wrote. Koivu is the type of player that works hard every night. He rarely has off nights, but honestly, who doesn't. I like what he does on the ice and in my opinion he is valuable to the team. Koivu has been the captain for ten years. He was originally voted by his fellow teammates as captain. Since becoming captain, he has played for five different coaches. None of those coaches have taken the "C" off of his chest since he first got it. I don't know exactly what goes on in the locker room or who exactly takes leadership role on the team but I am convinced that Koivu must be doing both of the above very well to be the captain pf one of the most high pressure hockey franchise to ever exist. I think Koivu wants to stay in Montreal till the end so I'd like to see him in a Habs uniform next season and many seasons after that for no more than 4 million.
3. Alex Tanguay: It's tough to judge Tanguay on this subject since we only saw him in 50 games this season (which is the least amount of GP in an NHL season for him). In those 50 games he had 41 points. He is obviously a very skilled player and seems to put in a good effort every night. So I think it's just up to how much he is asking. I would offer him a three-year 15 million dollar contract.
4. Mathieu Dandenault: I expect Dandenault to announce his retirement in the next few weeks. I watched him skate of the ice last night and it was obvious he was trying to take in the atmosphere from ice-level while he can. He was definitely trying to get the most out of that moment and was the last one off the ice, skating as slowly as he could. I'm speculating that he has already made his decision.
5. Patrice Brisebois: Dear Breezer, you may think that you still have another few years in you, but you are no Chelios. Please retire. Thank you.
6. Mike Komisarek: If Komisarek is exposed to the free-agent market, I have the feeling some big offers will be sent his way. Gainey should have locked him at the beginning of the season. The Habs can't afford to lose him, especially since one of the Habs' top defensive prospects, Alexei Emelin is thinking of signing another contract overseas. Maybe his RFA friend Chris Higgins could talk him into staying for cheap. I believe that the Habs actually really need him and he is still pretty young and has mostly likely not yet reached his prime. I'd give him 3.75 million.
7. Robert Lang: He was the leading scorer for the Habs until he got injured. He played well almost every game but sometimes had some defensive struggles. It was too bad he didn't have the chance to show Habs fans all he's got. He was a key part to the Habs' success at the beginning of the season and I think he is worth the money. The habs are running short on solid centres with the recent struggles of Tomas Plekanec (RFA). Then again, John Madden of the NJ Devils will become a free agent this off-season and would look great in a Habs uniform.
8. Mathieu Schneider: I think he's going to attempt to pull a Chelios. This off-season, I think it's either he retires or he signs a small contract with the Canadiens. I definitely wouldn't mind to see him playing for the Habs next season, and he proved to be the key to the Habs powerplay success near the end of the year along with Markov at the blueline. I think he wants to end his season in Montreal and won't need big bucks to want to pull it off.
9. Tom Kostopoulos: I must admit he put a lot of effort into this season along with Maxim Lapierre but I think he would be very easily to replace if he were to leave. I wouldn't mind if he stayed but it's no biggie if he leaves, as long as he gets replaced.
10. Francis Bouillon: You can see it in the way that he plays that he is proud of being a Montreal Canadien. He has a lot of heart, but in his case, his size is a matter of concern. He shouldn't be asking for over 2 million and I think he is well worth the investment although his recent injuries are a bit concerning.
Other UFA's include Marc Denis, Shawn Belle, Alex Henry, Doug Janik, Ryan Flinn, Mike Glumac, T.J. Kemp and Yanick Lehoux.
I don't know about a lot of those guys except Marc Denis, who came to good use this season while one of the other goalies were injured.
RFA's include Kyle Chipchura, Matt D'Agostini, Chris Higgins, Guillaume Latendresse, Tomas Plekanec and Gregory Stewart. I won't get into this topic today.
As for the coaching position to be filled, as explain in "Part I"'s comment section, I'd like to see Don Lever take the job as head coach. I don't know a lot about him but he did great work back in Hamilton and players come out of Hamilton looking better then ever (Sergei Kostitsyn not included).
UPDATE: Bob Gainey announced today that he intends on being the GM throughout next season.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kovalev announced that he would like to stay in Montreal, so whatever I said about him not wanting to play in Montreal anymore is bullshit.