A Word on the Habs' Inactivity Today
When talking about the Habs' deadline day strategy most people, fans and hockey experts alike, dichotomize it into two opposite directions: 'buyer' and 'seller'. If the Canadiens are buyers, the pundits say, they should make a splash for a big-name impact player such as Bill Guerin or Todd Bertuzzi. If they are sellers, however, then the Canadiens should trade away their assets, most notably Sheldon Souray, for a large return. Today, Bob Gainey decided not to go either way.
I tend to disagree with the notion that a trade is necessary on deadline day. It has to fit the team's needs at the time of the deal, and making a trade for the sake of it is not necessarily the best thing to do. If you look at Bob Gainey's moves, you see that he always thinks them out very carefully, and never pulls the trigger on a deal that is doubtful to help the team in some way. Trading for a Bill Guerin would have cost the Canadiens a roster player, a prospect, and a draft pick, which they could have afforded but are probably better off not having done. Trading Souray would have done more bad to the team short-term than the good it would have done long-term. In fact, the only player I think the Canadiens should have traded for was Peter Forsberg, but the return for him was phenomenal, his health is questionable, and there's a good chance he'll re-sign with Philadelphia in the summer.
That being said, I think the one area that Gainey has been consistently lacking is in looking out for the surrounding teams that matter. The Canadiens are in a fight for the eighth and final playoff spot with the Islanders and Maple Leafs, and both made significant trades today that make them better teams. The Canadiens' Northeast division rival Sabres made a big move today in acquiring former Hab Dainus Zubrus; the Senators and Bruins also made trades, albeit minor ones. The point here, though, is that Gainey ought to be extremely confident that his team is still on the right track compared to the Isles and Leafs if he decides not to pull a move in reaction to theirs.
I know I'm going to sound contradictory here, but Gainey is an incredibly intelligent hockey man and if he thinks that the offers being made to him would not improve his club, then there was no sense in him making a move. With Craig Rivet gone, Sheldon Souray is more a backbone of this team than ever, and we all know how fans react when you trade a pivotal player for picks and prospects (are you listening, Kevin Lowe?). And while the Leafs and Isles are certainly better teams than they were yesterday, the Canadiens are gaining momentum again and another trade might have thrown them off course. Sometimes, no news is good news after all.