Sunday, February 19, 2012

Notes on Moen and Campoli

I mentioned in my previous article that I suspected any trade Montreal makes right now should not be aimed exclusively at draft picks but should also bring prospects that are about ready to break into the NHL.  My reasoning can be summarized briefly: the team has a good young core already (Price, Subban, Eller, Leblanc, Pacioretty, Gorges, Desharnais, Emelin, Diaz, Weber, White are all 25 or under, except Diaz and Gorges who are 26 and 27, respectively) and therefore only needs to supplement this youth movement rather than completely rebuild.  Draft picks, unless in the top 10 or so, likely won't be ready for about 3 years or more, while when we have a good young team already.  We already have players who will be ready in 2 or 3 seasons (Beaulieu, Gallagher, Bournival), and adding to list this seems unnecessary at the moment.  In the Gill trade earlier this week Gauthier seems to be pursuing a plan of action consistent with what I am saying, we will see over the next 8 days or so if I am right.

It is with this plan in mind that I suggested trading away some players who can, for the moment, fetch more than they are worth because it's the trade deadline.  The two players who come to mind are Moen and Campoli.  In regards to Moen, he's a player that I like and fills a needed role on the team.  Moen currently has 16 points over 48 games and is -3 in +/-.  This puts him on pace for about 27 points this season, a 50% increase in production from when we first signed him (16 points in 82 games).  Moen has also been consistently healthy, having missed only 9 games since 2006-2007.  Currently being paid only $1.5 million at the moment, I suspect Moen is in for a hefty raise.  I fear that Moen's contract expectations will render him too expensive to afford next season.  Please refer to the end of the last article for an elaboration on the numbers.  The important point is that the Habs have about $20.5 million in available cap next year, but need to resign Price, Subban, Eller, White, Emelin, Diaz and others.  If Moen is unaffordable, he will walk away at the end of the season for nothing, an occurrence that has become all to common in Habs recent history.  This is unacceptable to me, and should be to Gauthier as well, because trading Moen will bring long term benefits while sacrificing almost nothing.  Another small point to make is that Moen and Geoffrion (our recent acquisition from Nashville) fill similar roles on a team.  The two are both 4th line players with enough offensive ability to be equally as effective on the third line.  Perhaps Moen can be a mentor to Geoffrion if he is affordable next year, but I suspect that Geoffrion might have been acquired as a younger replacement rather than as a pupil.

Campoli is also a player likely to garner attention over the next week.  Campoli was signed as a free agent this year when it became obvious that Markov would be unable to return on time.  Campoli is a left handed shot capable for taking (with drastically less effectiveness) Markov's place on the PP.  Cunneyworth recently remarked that Markov has been progressing quickly of late and that he anticipates he will be back before the end of the season.  I know, we've been hearing this all year, and the promises made about Markov are words in the wind, but no matter whether Markov returns or not, Campoli has been rendered redundant on this team.  We are currently rolling with 8 defencemen on the club, with at least one (Freddy St. Denis) able to temporarily fill in in case of injury.  Subtract one from that number (Markov), and we're at 7 with one able to be called up if necessary.  Campoli is that 7th man only necessary in case of injury, but actually unnecessary because St. Denis can fill this role.  While Campoli likely has only limited value, a 3rd round pick at most, more likely a 4th rounder, but if coupled with a young player that has been unable to break the team, such as Engqvist, could bring a better prospect.  My point is that Campoli is unnecessary whether or not Markov comes back this season, and that it's better to let the young players play through their errors and trade Campoli than it is to keep him and let him walk for nothing.  

Just to recap, I predicted earlier this week that our trade deadline moves would be focused on prospects that could break the NHL next year in addition to draft picks.  The Gill trade is consistent with what I expected, and I suspect Moen and possibly Campoli will also be traded in accordance with this plan.

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