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  1. #1
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    The Scott Gomez Trade Tree

    The fun continues with these. @30ranfordfan has done a great job with his trade trees and now I'm going to get in on the action myself. This one, not very fun, but with the good deals come the bad ones, and for the Montreal Canadiens, this is arguably the worst trade in franchise history.
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    After the Habs were swept out of the 2009 Playoffs by the Boston Bruins, bringing an ignominious end to the Centennial season, GM Bob Gainey made a drastic decision to overhaul his roster. Gone were longtime captain Saku Koivu, mercurial but loved Alex Kovalev, All Star defenceman Mike Komisarek, and mild disappointment acquisition Alex Tanguay, all to free agency. Koivu went to the Ducks and finished his career in California. Komisarek went to the Leafs, where he signed a massive deal that was an immediate albatross. Kovalev bounced around a bit. Tanguay spent a year in Tampa, then went back to Calgary, then went back to Colorado, and then spent his final 18 NHL games in the Desert with the Coyotes.

    The shockwaves began in Montreal on June 30th, when a 7-player deal was announced:
    Montreal receives: Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, and Mike Busto
    New York Rangers receive: Chris Higgins, Pavel Valentenko, Doug Janik, and Ryan McDonagh, who was the Canadiens' 1st round pick in the 2007 draft.

    Immediately, reaction was negative from many quarters of the Habs fandom. Higgins was a relatively popular versatile forward who could fill a top-six role, Valentenko was well-regarded, and McDonagh was seen as a future stalwart for the Canadiens blue line, ranked right up there with blue-chipper PK Subban in terms of how well-regarded he was. But the centrepiece of the deal for the Canadiens, Gomez, was himself the source of much outrage. Already viewed as being a player in decline, his contract at the time was one of the highest-paying in hockey, with the Habs inheriting a deal with 5 years remaining with over $30M in salary and a $7.37M cap hit. That number doesn't seem so high today, but recall that back in those days the cap was much lower. The 2009-10 cap limit was $56.8M, which meant Gomez was almost 13% of the Habs total cap. For his part, Rangers GM Glen Sather (always a big spender) said,
    "It gives us a lot more options, more availability to do other things," Sather said. "We're not up against the cap now. We have lots of cap room. It just makes the options more inviting to us." People had legitimate concerns - what was Gainey thinking? For supporters of the GM, In Bob We Trust was the mantra.

    The deal is credited with helping the Canadiens lure two key free agents to the team that season: Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta. Montreal had (and still battles) been known as a place where free agents didn't want to sign. Three key factors: language, taxes, and harsh winters. But the Gomez move was viewed as a sign that the team would do what it took to win, including taking a risk. Maybe the deals signed by Gionta and Cammalleri ended up being half a million more than they would have signed elsewhere. However, one really couldn't argue against the impact of these two players - Cammalleri was fantastic for his two-plus seasons (especially the 2010 Playoffs, where he notched 13 goals) before a falling out saw him traded to Calgary in the middle of a game, and Gionta was a well-regarded leader and captain until his contract ran out after the 2013-14 season and he signed with Buffalo (joining the recently-traded Josh Gorges to form the veteran leadership group there).

    Performance was going to be everything for Gomez. Gainey had a lot riding on this. If Gomez didn't put up big numbers and the Habs sputtered, it was his job on the line.

    And for the first season, the deal worked. Though the Canadiens ranked 23rd overall in offence and barely squeaked into the 2009-10 playoffs, the new leadership group did their part. Gomez, Cammalleri, and Gionta finished 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively, in team scoring. Gomez put up good numbers - 12-47-59. Not $7.37M cap hit numbers, but good numbers. He was also very good in the playoffs, part of a magical run that saw the Habs knock off highly favoured Washington and Pittsburgh in successive 7-game series, where he scored 2 goals and added 12 assists. Not world-breaker numbers, but good enough that people were willing to give this thing a chance.

    Then the wheels fell off. Like, completely off. On Februrary 5, 2011, Gomez scored his 7th goal of the 2010-11 season. He wouldn't score another goal until February 9, 2012, more than a calendar year later. Defenders would say, "He's not here to score goals, he's a setup man," but fans wanted no part of that. $7.37M. That's all that people could see, and there were no results for it.

    Meanwhile, in New York, McDonagh was exactly as advertised. His offensive numbers actually exceeded those of Gomez in 11-12 by a considerable margin, and he was playing big minutes. Canadiens fans could only lament what could have been. PK Subban had developed into a top-flight blueliner, and just imagine a top six comprised of those two and a healthy Markov (something that didn't happen often in that era)--instead, Gomez and his $7.37M. The other players in the deal didn't amount to much. They didn't have to. Valentenko never played a game in the NHL. Janik never played with the Rangers, though he did get some NHL time with Detroit in the intervening years. Chris Higgins didn't even finish the 2009-10 season with the Rangers, as he was dealt to Calgary before spending a season in Florida, and then finishing his NHL career with five seasons in Vancouver.

    Montreal bought out the final three years of Gomez's contract immediately after the lockout that impacted the 2012-13 season ended. The Canadiens had planned to let Gomez sit at home for the entirety of the 48-game 2013 season to use their compliance buyout after the season ended, but the PA didn't like this approach (which also affected Wade Redden), so teams were allowed to use their buyouts before the season started. He bounced around quite a lot after that, playing for five teams in five years before retiring.

    McDonagh is still active in the NHL, and indeed has been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, so the branches of the big move by Sather still extend to this day.

    For the Habs, the tree died with Gomez being bought out. Three seasons after the biggest gamble the team made in a generation, they had nothing to show for it.
    Montreal

    Scott Gomez
    Buyout 2013
    Tom Pyatt
    UFA 2011 (Tampa)
    Mike Busto
    0 NHL Games
    For the Rangers, however...

    Higgins was traded in February 2010 to Calgary (along with Ales Kotalik) for Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust.
    Jokinen finished out the 2009-10 season, putting up 4 goals and 11 assists, and then moved on to Florida as a UFA.
    Prust became a bit of a fan favourite - not the biggest guy but willing to drop the mitts. He spent two-plus seasons with the Rangers, scoring 13 goals in the 2010-11 season while racking up 160 PIM's. He left the Rangers after the 2011-12 season as a UFA, joining the Habs.
    Doug Janik 8 days later became a member of the Detroit Red Wings after signing with them as a UFA. That's right. He was a New York Ranger for a day before hitting the free agent market.
    McDonagh spent seven-plus years with the Rangers before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in February 2018. That deal brought the Rangers the following haul: Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, Vladislav Namestnikov, a 2018 1st round pick and a 2019 2nd round pick. Not too bad. Hajek (a 2016 2nd round pick) has played 33 games with the Rangers and is still in the organization. Howden (Tampa's 2016 1st) is a full-time roster player with 136 games the last two seasons. The 2018 1st became Niks Lundkvist (no relation!) who is putting up good numbers in the Swedish League. The 2019 2nd became Karl Henriksson (not to be confused with Henrik Karlsson, who played with the Flames for a couple years), and he is with Frolunda of the Swedish League. Finally, Namestnikov -- he spent the remainder of the 17-18 season and a full 18-19 with the Rangers, before being traded two games into this season to Ottawa for Nick Ebert and a 2021 4th round pick. Ebert is a former Kings 7th rounder from 2012 who has yet to play an NHL game but has decent numbers for the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers AHL affiliate.

    So let's walk through the branches here:
    Pavel Valentenko
    0 NHL Games
    Doug Janik UFA 2009 (Detroit)
    Chris Higgins
    February 2010 - traded to Calgary Olli Jokinen UFA 2010 (Florida)


    Brandon Prust UFA 2012 (Montreal)
    Ryan McDonagh
    Vladislav Namestnikov October 2019 - traded to Ottawa Nick Ebert
    February 2018 - traded to Tampa Bay Brett Howden Active 2021 4th

    Libor Hajek Active

    2018 1st Nils Lundkvist

    2019 2nd Karl Henriksson

    Not too difficult to sum up who won this deal eh? The Rangers still have two players, two prospects, an AHL depth veteran, and a 2021 4th round draft pick stemming back from the original trade. That's after getting 7 great years from McDonagh, a few weeks of Olli Jokinen, and two years of Brandon Prust.
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  2. #2
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    Love this!

    I was just thinking to myself "I need to do another one of these threads". Now that I see this one, I'll wait a while!

    I'm not a Habs fan, never was. Weird thing with my circle of friends..... and I have no idea how this happened, living in South Western Ontario... I actually spend much more time around Habs fans that Leaf fans. In my "main" circle of friends, the Habs fans are much more plentiful.

    Only pointing that out, because it's caused me to keep up on Habs knowledge over the years, and gotten me to a few games @ the Bell Centre.


    Anyway: I don't remember a single person being happy with that deal when it happened. Gomez was overrated, and overpayed. That's what everyone thought at the time, and he did nothing in his time in Montreal to prove them wrong. He probably could have come out with a "My contract sucks" comment like Luongo did, and maybe people would have laughed it off a little bit more..... they had a decent player, making double what he was worth.

    Sather swindled them in that deal. Amazing to see that all these years later, it's still paying off for the Rags.... and Montreal has nothing to show for it.

  3. #3
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    Love this!

    I was just thinking to myself "I need to do another one of these threads". Now that I see this one, I'll wait a while!

    I'm not a Habs fan, never was. Weird thing with my circle of friends..... and I have no idea how this happened, living in South Western Ontario... I actually spend much more time around Habs fans that Leaf fans. In my "main" circle of friends, the Habs fans are much more plentiful.

    Only pointing that out, because it's caused me to keep up on Habs knowledge over the years, and gotten me to a few games @ the Bell Centre.


    Anyway: I don't remember a single person being happy with that deal when it happened. Gomez was overrated, and overpayed. That's what everyone thought at the time, and he did nothing in his time in Montreal to prove them wrong. He probably could have come out with a "My contract sucks" comment like Luongo did, and maybe people would have laughed it off a little bit more..... they had a decent player, making double what he was worth.

    Sather swindled them in that deal. Amazing to see that all these years later, it's still paying off for the Rags.... and Montreal has nothing to show for it.

    The bolded part is so true. It was a colossal "what the..." moment. We Habs fans tend to have visceral reactions to any trade. I don't know what it is, but anything on a scale larger than an AHL swap triggers some bold proclamations and statements about what this all means for the direction of the franchise. Regardless of whether or not things work out in the end, a trade day in Montreal is always one worth getting out the popcorn. Today being the 25th, I imagine that my Facebook Memories and a few other friends will be quite something to read in five days. There will no doubt be Gomez posts. I think it would be fun to post some of those reactions. LOL


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    Amazing
    Please bare with me sometimes my work schedule changes in a matter of minutes.Trade list is currently a work in progress if you don't see anything please ask.

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