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Canadiens Sign Forwards Mike Camalleri & Brian Gionta, Add Defensemen Hal Gill & Jaroslav Spacek

July 4th 2009 02:02
Montreal Canadiens, Habs, Mike Cammalleri, Jaroslav Spacek, Brian Gionta, Hal Gill
Canadiens' newest signings clockwise: Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek
Despite taking on Scott Gomez's huge contract the day before July 1st, Bob Gainey still add a considerable amount of cap space to make one or two splashes in the free agency period.


The Montreal Canadiens GM started the day by signing veteran defensemen Jaroslav
Jaroslav Spacek, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Habs
Spacek to a three-year, $11.5 million deal. A puck-moving defenseman, the 35-year-old had 45 points (eight goals, 37 assists) with the Buffalo Sabres last season. His acquisition brings a much needed outlet for the Canadiens' transition game. Apart from Andrei Markov, Montreal defensemen able to make a decent outlet pass are few and far between. Spacek also provides a solution for the Habs' second wave of the powerplay. Here again, the Canadiens were weak except when forcing Markov to take a double-shift. Although he's old, Spacek averaged more than 22 minutes of ice time in each of the past two seasons. His size might be an issue. Indeed, at 5'11'' and barely over 200 pounds, his presence doesn't really bring much intimidation on a team that lacked toughness last year which brings us to Hal Gill's signing.


The hulking 6'7'', 250 pounds Stanley Cup champion is a stay-at-home defenseman brought in to compensate Mike Komisarek's departure. Signed to a two-year, $4.5 million contract, Gill is the kind of defenseman who fits well on a second or third D-pairing. His lack of speed makes him a liability
Hal Gill, Montreal Canadiens, Habs, Pittsburgh Penguins
against several teams' top lines but his experience and long reach turn him into a decent defenseman when taking speed out of the equation. Still, it bothers me when people who were calling Gill “a huge pylon” two months ago are now praising his size and toughness simply because he signed with Montreal. I remember how Claude Julien, Michel Therrien, and Guy Carbonneau all used to exploit Gill's presence on other teams' defense in order to establish a cycling presence in the offensive zone. That won't change now that he's with the Habs.

Mike Cammalleri, Montreal Canadiens, Habs, Calgary Flames
Cammalleri was Gainey's best move of the day
It's in front that Gainey arguably made his biggest move of the day. Off of a 82-point (39 goals, 43 assists) career season, left-winger/center Mike Cammalleri was brought in from the Calgary Flames with a five-year, $30 million contract. Also on the small side – Cammalleri is 5'9'' – is a proven sniper who, in theory, will complement Scott Gomez's playmaking abilities. The 27-year-old is also a force on the powerplay, ranking second in the NHL with 19 powerplay goals last season. This signing combined with the acquisition of Gomez essentially forces Alex Tanguay out of Montreal. You've got to feel for a guy who's been replaced twice by Cammalleri in the span of two years.

Finally, the Canadiens concluded their spending frenzy by signing free agent Brian Gionta to five-year, $25 million contract. Another hardened veteran, Gionta had his best year in
Brian Gionta, Montreal Canadiens, Habs, New Jersey Devils
2005-2006 where he had 89 points (48 goals, 41 assists) playing alongside Scott Gomez. Although he stands at only 5'7'', Gionta is known for his tenacious play and willingness to crash the net. The Canadiens will hope that he and Gomez rekindle their magic for a couple more seasons.

Although none of the forwards acquisitions are impressive (except maybe Cammalleri), all three are players who have no problem adhering to a system and won't necessarily ignore their defensive duties. The question mark will be the size issue. It's one thing to be gritty, and not shy away from confrontation, but it's another thing to do it night in, night out when you don't have teammates in the likes of Jarome Iginla, Patrik Elias, and Jamie Langenbrunner. But then again, no one knows what will happen until they step on the ice, so I guess it's wait and see.

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1 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Anonymous

February 6th 2010 21:03
Hi, just letting you know that photo is not Jaroslav Spacek but Dmitri Kalinin. Spacek wore #6 with Buffalo as he does with the Habs. Better late (8 months) than never!

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