For the Montreal Canadiens, the 2011-2012 season has been a rough one. From the firings of coaches Jacques Martin and Perry Pearn, to the mid-game trade that included Mike Cammalleri being shipped to Calgary, it has definitely been a season to forget in Montreal. With all that is going poorly for the Bleu Blanc Rouge, Habs fans have placed all of the blame on General Manager Pierre Gauthier, and rightfully so. With the Canadiens having a very slim chance of reaching the playoffs, there are still a few ways that the Canadiens can salvage their season.
Firstly and most importantly, at the end of the season, the entire management must be replaced. Gauthier along with Bob Gainey and the entire coaching staff must go and be replaced with new blood to lead this team in a new direction. Everyone out, no exceptions. Completely new regime. A new GM candidate is Pierre McGuire and a new coaching staff could include Guy Carbonneau returning as the head coach along with assistant coaches Patrick Roy and Larry Robinson. Now that would be terrific.
Secondly, I know that many Habs fans, including myself, think that this team needs a rebuild. But that is not the case. With a franchise goaltender in Carey Price, a potential top tier NHL defenseman in PK Subban and a very promising prospect pool including Nathan Beaulieu, Brendan Gallagher, Michael Bournival, Louis Leblanc and Jarred Tinordi, all the Canadiens need is a dynamic no.1 center. The Habs have a ton of mediocrity up front aside from Erik Cole, Max Pacioretty and occasionally Tomas Plekanec. But still, none of these players have game-breaking skill. Gauthier needs to make an offer that would send Andrei Kostitsyn, Yannick Weber, and Tomas Plekanec to the Anaheim Ducks for Ryan Getzlaf and a pick/prospect. This would give the Habs a much needed superstar player in Getzlaf. The Ducks on the other hand would receive Andrei Kostitsyn and Yannick Weber, two players who have tons of potential, along with Plekanec who is a potential 60+ point scorer and a very good defensive forward. If the Habs cannot obtain the services of a player like Ryan Getzlaf through a trade, they should look to Zach Parise in free agency come July 1st.
Then, the Canadiens have to trade defenseman Hal Gill and forward Travis Moen. Those two players could seriously help cup contending teams in need of solid defensive play and leadership (see Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals). Also teams will overpay for their services. Think between a 2nd or 3rd round pick coming back in return. However, if the Canadiens were to package Gill, Moen and a pick/prospect, they may be able to snag Washington's 1st round pick which they received from the Colorado Avalanche for goaltender Semyon Varlamov. With the possibility of having not one, but two, top fifteen picks in this year’s draft, the future would sure look bright for the Canadiens. A few more players who have surely played their last season as a Canadien include Petteri Nokelainen, Mathieu Darche, Chris Campoli and hopefully Tomas Kaberle. Look for them to be placed on the trading block as well.
Last of all, with the new CBA agreement being negotiated there is a possibility of the NHL having a free buyout period. If this is the case, the Canadiens would have to buyout Scott Gomez's contract. While Gomez has played well lately, his cap hit of roughly $7,000,000 is much too pricey for a zero goal scorer. If there is no free buyout period, look for Gomez to be traded to a cap hungry team like the Phoenix Coyotes. The last option for Gomez would be for him to be sent to the minors. This would take his cap hit off the team's payroll, however, I don't believe owner Geoff Molson would be willing to pay Gomez his $7,000,000 salary to play for the Hamilton Bulldogs. In other words, Gomez must go.
If all goes according to my plan, the 2012-2013 Montreal Canadiens could look something like this. (Remember that this still leaves room for the Canadiens sign a couple free agents to round out the roster)
General Manager: Pierre McGuire
Head Coach: Guy Carbonneau
Assistant coach: Patrick Roy
Assistant coach: Larry Robinson
Gionta - Getzlaf - Bourque
Gionta - Getzlaf - Bourque
Cole - Desharnais - Pacioretty
Gallagher - Eller - Leblanc
Blunden - White - Konopka
Diaz- B. Nash