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The Upper Canadien

Hannan to the Flames, Gauthier asleep at the wheel?

A simple comment on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon: Scott Hannan for a million bucks is a good deal. One that Habs GM Pierre Gauthier should have been in on.

Why?

Depth on defence is a must for any playoff team, and while the Habs have quite a few defencemen, many of them are young and unproven. Would taking a million of the unused cap room and putting it towards Hannan really have been such a bad idea?

Good on the Flames, bad on the Habs. They let Brent Sopel go, a hardworking, gritty rearguard, and you can never have too many of those. Scott Hannan is cut from the same cloth, and at a million bucks in today’s NHL, that cloth ain’t cashmere. It’s cotton. Or denim. Cheap as can be.

The perfect sixth defenceman was there, and Gauthier let him get away. Were the Habs ever even in on him? Who knows. Probably not. I want to believe the Canadiens have another plan, another UFA or trade lined up, but who’s kidding who? They rarely, if ever, do.

Regardless, well done Jay Feaster. It seems in today’s NHL, deals are harder and harder to come by. The Calgary Flames just got a really good one.

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Comments

Lyle Richardson's avatar

Young and unproven? Spacek, Gill, Markov and Gorges are hardly “unproven”.

Subban certainly qualifies as young, but more than proved his worth during an impressive rookie campaign in which he steadily improved until, by the playoffs, he was seeing more ice time than any other Canadiens defenseman. 

Weber could fall into the"young and unproven” category, though he’ll certainly get his shot this coming season and nailing down a full time role. And then there’s Emelin, who definitely qualifies as unproven.

So, veteran defensemen, one who is young but definitely a star, and two which are young and unproven. That hardly qualifies as “many”.

Posted by Lyle Richardson on 08/13/11 at 04:50 PM ET

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I dunno. Teams generally go into the playoffs with 8-10 d. The Habs have four vets, two of which are seriously injury prone, and three kids. A depth signing like Hannan sure would’ve looked good to me. You can never have too many defencemen, especially when two (Emelin and Diaz) haven’t even played in North America.

Posted by Pi on 08/13/11 at 05:32 PM ET

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Definitely should have been on this one. Hannan for 1 mil is a steal. Not only is he responsible defensively, he also is not a complete stiff with a puck. A very deep D is key to success in the regular season and playoffs.

Posted by BlackXinu on 08/13/11 at 06:34 PM ET

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Absolute steal for the Flames. Hannan was terrific for us. Not a Caps fan alive that prefers J Schultz at 2.5 mil over Hannan at 1 mil. Most of us are disgusted by this.

Posted by flacco5 on 08/13/11 at 06:43 PM ET

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Do you actually know anything about hockey? Habs’ d, in no particular order:
Subban
Markov
Gorges
Gill
Spacek
Weber
Yemelin.

So,uh, where does Hannan fit in? Shut down? Got that: Gorges/Gill.  Hits? Got that: Subban/Yemelin.  Leadership? Got that: Gill, Gorges, Spacek, Markov.  No room for Hannan.  Go learn something about the team you purport to follow and then come back to blogging.

Posted by J-F on 08/13/11 at 08:01 PM ET

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Thanks as always for the comments. I really appreciate the feedback.

Lyle, you’re absolutely right, I should have said youth and durability issues, rather than using the term unproven, but as other commenters have said, the fact remains that the Canadiens have a fragile defence that has logged heavy minutes the past two years. And with a guy like Emelin, I love what I’ve heard, and the little I’ve seen, but he’s anything but a sure thing.

J-F: all I can figure is that you must be watching a different team than me. The Montreal Canadiens that I follow lost 150-odd man games on defence last year. Markov has missed much of the past two seasons. Spacek has battled serious vertigo and knee issues, and has the durability of tissue paper combined with the speed of a swift turtle. Gorges is coming back from serious knee surgery. Yemelin has never played in North America, and Weber played all of 30 games last year. Presumably, a veteran like Hannan would be willing to sign knowing he may only play 60-70 games, especially considering he was without a contract in mid-August. Not only does the depth provide insurance, it also allows for the possibility of a trade, should Gauthier want to move a chip like Weber or Yemelin. I hardly think such a signing would detract from the team, especially someone as committed to the philosophy of a team as Hannan.

But that’s just my take on the team, and I don’t know much about them, other than thirty-odd years of devotion, hundreds of games, thousands of conversations, and two shelves full of books on Les Glroieux.

I guess I need to take a course or something. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/13/11 at 10:31 PM ET

Lyle Richardson's avatar

Durability is more of an issue. Perhaps Hannan might’ve helped, perhaps not. Evidently, Gauthier feels his blueline is good enough with what he’s got. While durability is an issue, should they be healthier than the past couple of years, (which for Markov and Gorges simply means not suffering season ending injuries), they’ll be fine. Or perhaps Gauthier saw something in Hannan’s performance this past season, like so many other GMs did, which made him pass? That’s something that has to be taken into consideration, too. The question to ask is, why? Have the other 29 GMs taken leave of their collective senses? Or was there something about Hannan’s play which made them all, except for the Flames, and then by mid-August, decide to pass.

Posted by Lyle Richardson on 08/14/11 at 12:37 AM ET

jayskate's avatar

I appreciate your point of view here, but the only issue I have is one that seems to plague many habs fans, myself included, that every decent player on the market should be signed, and not to do so is a failure. Mr. Gauthier probably sees something in Yemelin he thought addressed the problems on D. However, to say Gauthier is asleep at the wheel is a bit harsh. A move for such a depth defenceman would be more suitable at the trade deadline, or during the season if the habs D does run into injury issues, which is highly possible. But what’s to say they can’t get such a player for a 7th round pick at the deadline from a cup pretender. Every bit of cap space is a potential difference maker, and who knows what plans are in store for it.

Posted by jayskate from Newfoundland, Canada on 08/14/11 at 08:37 PM ET

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Jayskate: I see where you’re coming from, and to some extent I agree. However, the fact remains that the only real “acquisition” of the summer thus far has been Cole, Budaj and Auld are a wash, and with $4 million under the cap, the team has plenty of room to add if they want to. I’ve always been a big believer in the team concept - a player is much more valuable if he plays with the group for a year rather than two months. That’s why, most of the time, the deadline moves don’t make much of a difference.

I think a guy like Hannan being on the roster from day 1 would be a great addition, just as Halpern was last year (before injuries got in the way). I said last year that I was hoping the Habs might give Owen Nolan a try out, given his big body and physical play. I was hoping for such a move this year, to add some size, but nothing has come. Thats why I consider Gauthier somewhat asleep at the switch - total silence. Emelin could be great - but remember Lars Eller? Gauthier thought he’d be great, too. He spent most of the year on the 3rd and 4th line, not making much of a difference until late in the year. It was a hole on the roster, but one up front.

That’s the primary reason I think a guy like Hannan would have provided great depth and an important voice in the locker room. You can never have too much experience on the back end.

Thanks again for the comments, always welcome. Love the discourse!

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/14/11 at 11:06 PM ET

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You’re a fan and a blogger, so am I, we’re not experts in hockey, we’re just dudes with opinions.  Pierre Gauthier, on the other hand, has made his career out of knowing hockey and he gets well-compensated to do so.  If you can’t trust that the GM of the team you claim to be devoted to, then why bother?

Posted by J-F on 08/15/11 at 09:44 AM ET

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Definitely a steal for the Flames at $1 million.

Maybe the Habs think their defensemen will stay healthy this year? Who knows. I can’t imagine they’ll go another season with so many injuries on their blue line. Then again, it’s been a few years since Markov has played a full season. A little insurance probably wouldn’t have hurt.

Posted by Briney on 08/15/11 at 10:46 AM ET

jayskate's avatar

The signing of Jeff Woywitka shows that Gauthier agreed to an extent, he has similar number and blocked shots as Hannan, but Hannan probably would have been better. Also thanks for your reply, nice to see a blogger open to debate.

Posted by jayskate from Newfoundland, Canada on 08/15/11 at 03:50 PM ET

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Jayskate: I can’t help but wonder if the Habs were in on Hannan, it didn’t work out, and Woywitka was plan B. They probably had at least a few irons in the fire. Anyhow, he’s the shot blocking, physical, team guy that they needed for that #7 depth spot. And I think they’ll be that much better for it.

And glad to reply, always read the comments, and when my day job doesn’t get too much in the way (I’m in finance, so the past three weeks have been mental) I always try to reply. Great to hear the different opinions. And very excited that we’re only 6 weeks from puck drop.

Thanks again to all for the comments. Please keep reading!

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/15/11 at 09:00 PM ET

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com