Monday, November 27, 2006

Niinimaa'd in Montreal

I liked this line from Sisu Hockey earlier in the week:
What do you do with an 8th string defenseman who's making $2.5M? If you're Dallas, you trade him for Mike Ribeiro. If you're Montreal, you have second thoughts about the price you paid for defensive depth and pine for the days of Karl Dykhuis.
It's true — although to me the surprising part of the Niinimaa-Ribeiro deal isn't that Niinimaa has continued to play poorly (he has just one point and is a team-worst -7 in 18 games) but how well Ribeiro has fit in with the Stars.

He's playing the point on the first power-play unit of one of the best teams in the West, and looks far more comfortable in a suboordinate role where he rarely sees the ice at even strength (he plays fewer 5-on-5 minutes than every other regular on the team). The Stars are perennially a little lean on offensive players and given his modest price tag $1.9-million, he's been a bargain so far.

Pupil (Doug Armstrong) 1, mentor (Bob Gainey) 0


At 10:41 p.m., November 27, 2006, Anonymous Ben said...

I'm agree with the fact that Niinimaa plays like a shit (I've watch all the Habs game this year). But the fact is Gainey really wanted to trade Ribeiro because Ribeiro, Theodore and Dagenais were a crew in the teams and that was bad for the team spirit. Plus, at the beginning of the year Bouillon's was injury for a unknow time and last year Montreal's defensmen have miss a lot of game for injury reason.

But the fact is Ribeiro was a better center for Kovalev and Samsonov than Plekanec and this is the reason why this is a bad trade

At 3:19 a.m., November 28, 2006, Anonymous Alexander Perezhilton said...

Well that was barely understandable, but he's right.

Ribeiro was a cancer on the team. Niinima is just a removable tumor...except the Habs don't have medicare.

At 9:02 a.m., November 28, 2006, Anonymous Lyle Richardson said...

No general manager "wins" every trade he makes. I don't know many Habs fans who'd want the divisive "Mickey Ribs" back in the lineup. Most are glad he's gone.

As for those suggesting Ribeiro was the better fit between Kovalev and Samsonov, they tried that in pre-season, remember? And it simply wasn't working. Given Ribeiro's streaky play I'd argue his performance would scarcely improve the Habs second line.

The fact he's seeing limited even-strength time and is mainly used on the power play by the Stars is indicative of that fact.

Niinimaa was a calculated gamble that hasn't paid off, but it's not like the Canadiens are saddled with his contract long-term. If they demote him to the minors (which is likely to happen soon) his salary won't count against the Habs cap and frees up space for a better move -like one for a second-line centre - later in the season.

Given Gainey's overall record as the Habs GM I'm not about to hang him for one bad move that isn't going to adversely affect the club long-term. This isn't a return to the Houle era!


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