Saturday, June 16, 2007

Habs unload Samsonov

Sergei Samsonov's rocky tenure with the Montreal Canadiens is over.

The 28-year-old forward was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday for defenceman Jassen Cullimore and forward Tony Salmelainen.
Bob Gainey, miracle worker?

Not quite, but this is a nice move for both teams. The Blackhawks have been dying to get rid of Cullimore's deal for a while now, and considering the Canadiens were fully prepared to buyout Samsonov's $3.525-million deal for $2.35-million, this saves them just more than $1-million under the cap.

Salmelainen, meanwhile, is on a one-way deal, meaning Chicago had to pay him regardless of where he played last season, and he toiled on the lower lines of an awful team while posting 17 points in 57 games. He was a second-rounder back in 1999 and has been kicking around North America forever, but his best season remains 2005-06 in Finland, when he had 27 goals and 55 points in 53 games.

He's probably headed to the Bulldogs, where he'll make $700,000 but not count against the cap.

Why does Chicago take a chance on Samsonov, you ask? Well, from their perspective, they're taking on only about $1-million more in salary to see if they can kickstart the disgruntled Russian's flagging career.

Even if the only puts in, say, a 45-point season, that makes him a veritable sniper on the 'Hawks. Other than Martin Havlat, who played just 56 games, not a single Chicago player cracked 41 points last season, and Samsonov doesn't have much of a bar to clear.

Besides, if he doesn't put it together here, that's all she wrote for his NHL career. Still, I hope for Chicago fans' sake that this isn't GM Dale Tallon's only off-season improvement.

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At 1:51 p.m., June 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about anyone else, but Samsonov--Handzus--Havlat with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane anchoring the second line is miles ahead of the crap teams the Hawks have been churning out the last few years. In fact, if they're able to get a few solid UFA d-men and Khabibulin plays well, they may be competing for eighth place even in a tight West.

At 3:27 p.m., June 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the move for both teams. With Howson going to Columbus, it looks like the Central division might be starting to tighten up a little.

Just in time for the Hamilton relocation :)

At 4:03 p.m., June 16, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

It definitely saves the Habs money. Cullimore's buyout and say Salmalienen makes the team as a spare/4th liner is a combined cap hit of $1.33m. Samsonov's buyout alone would've been $1.175m, plus money to replace his roster spot. At minimum wage for that player, the cap hit would've been $1.65m per year (league minimum is $475k the next 2 years).

The Hawks still have a ways to go to beef up their squad, but the team is coming together. Samsonov is more a "why not" attempt than a real solution, but he should fit Savard's more up-tempo offence than Carbonneau's strict defensive squad.

At 5:16 p.m., June 16, 2007, Anonymous Baroque said...

Handzus is a bit iffy, though. He plans on exploring free agency, although coming off surgery I don't know what kind of offers he will get. He might take a one-year deal with Chicago just to prove he's healthy, and then go elsewhere if he doesn't want to continue with the Blackhawks.

This does look like a nice change from the typical drek on ice they have given their fans, even if they don't keep Handzus.

At 5:52 p.m., June 16, 2007, Blogger Jeremy said...

Honestly? I wouldn't be surprised if Samsonov puts up some decent numbers, especially on the power-play, where he'll get plenty of time as one of the Hawks' go-to guns. He'll also see a good deal of time with Martin Havlat, who has the ability to make his linemates look better (see Vrbata, Radim). I could see him returning to 20-goal form as a best case scenario. He's still overpaid, but at least the Hawks can now put someone who can skate in Cullimore's old slot.

At 9:09 p.m., June 16, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bob GAiney, miracle worker?"
Helen Keller is not amused.

At 9:43 p.m., June 16, 2007, Blogger Sam said...

Gainey is hardly a miracle worker. Having had the "privilege" of watching Cullimore the past two seasos, he really has no place in the new NHL. His size means nothing if he can't get in position to use it. Salmo is about as soft as a twinkie. One good game followed by 3 he disappears. Whereas Samsonov is no risk- high reward, and in our up tempo system, if that's what it is, he could flourish.

At 2:24 a.m., June 17, 2007, Blogger saskhab said...

Sam, Cullimore will not play for the Habs. He has been bought out by them. They were going to buy out Samsonov, which was much more expensive. This saves them that money.

Salmelainen may or may not make the team. Montreal has paid players NHL money to play in the AHL before, and they'll do it again if they think it's neccessary. Salmalienen is a no risk addition, and likely a no impact one.

The impact for the Habs is increased cap space, minimizing the effects of a bad decision (signing Sammy in the first place).

Chicago could not buy out Cullimore. They used up their 2 buyouts against the cap last summer with Brown and Barnaby. They can't buy anyone else out until next year.

Gainey's no genius for this move, just as Lou Lams was no genius for dealing a 1st rounder to SJ to get rid of the Malakhov error. But both did minimize their mistakes and made the best out of a bad situation.

At 2:21 p.m., June 17, 2007, Anonymous joseph r said...

Here's a take from a Montreal fan's perspective, if you're curious:


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