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Should The Canadiens Pay For Doughty?

December 11, 2018, 3:17 PM ET [3 Comments]
Brandon Smillie
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
A bombshell of a rumor was dropped on our very own HockeyBuzz.com last night about the availability of LA Kings superstar D, Drew Doughty.

Now, I’m as skeptical as the next guy about the availability of the Kings best player, but if this is happening then should the Canadiens be involved?

I think the answer is a resounding yes, but lets see how this might have to work out…

First, Doughty has a 7 team trade list, but that doesn’t appear to take effect until the 23-24 season running to the end of his upcoming 8 year extension. That gives the Kings 3 years after this season to make a decision to deal Doughty, and honestly it seems like they were definitely going to trade him within those first 3 years.

After the rumors and the performance of the team and their desperate need for a rebuild, and shedding of horrible contracts, it seems the contract was crafted so the GM of the Kings could at least have Doughty as an option to move. Now that the team appears destined for a tear down, dealing Doughty before his $11 million per season deal kicks in might make sense for the team.

A full scale rebuild means walking away from long time players and there are some stinker contracts there. Dealing Doughty will likely mean eating some contract and/or taking on a bad deal in the short term.

The Kings have been scooping up waiver players like crazy as well so this team is looking for any and every way out of their current situation. At some point the management team will have to look hard at the mess they’ve created and either get to fixing it, or be replaced by folks who will. I think with the current rumors around the club, and a glance at their contracts (woof…), it’s clear what’s going to happen. Quick will be moved and with that it means everyone is on the chopping block.

So, the Kings are going to make moves….

Can the Canadiens bring Doughty in?

Should they?

Doughty is carrying a quality $7 mill cap hit for this season but its jumps 64% for next season to $11 per and takes the player to retirement as his age at the last game will be about 37 and a half years old. $11 million is a big ticket to pay, but I would bet Karlsson gets $12 million this summer as a UFA and you would be getting one of the best in the NHL, Weber style.

You might be able to get the Kings to hold $1 million of that cap for the duration of the deal if you take back someone else no one will touch. Someone like Kovalchuk (2 more seasons) or Brown/Carter (3 more seasons), thus giving the Kings a good return on Doughty and freedom from deals that have turned quite sour.

So the Kings hold a million or two of cap hit to shed $16+ million in salary and contract. The Kings will definitely try to do this and they will likely succeed. Some will say “A contending team won’t take the extra contract with expansion looming” and I agree to an extent. However, there will be a team that says “I’ll just buy Brown/Carter out before the expansion draft if I can’t deal them” and if that’s the long term cost to get Doughty at a reasonable rate then there will be no shortage of GM’s willing to roll those dice.

Alright so what will be the price?

Tough to say but with a team negotiating in a bad contract and Doughty hitting 30 yrs old in what appears to be a youth movement there will only be a handful of teams willing to meet all those requirements. It means your getting a first round pick that will be later in the round, and your getting your choice of one or two of the teams prospects and a roster player. Probably a 2nd rounder or more tossed in as well.

Let’s say the cost of Doughty and Brown is: 1st round pick, two 2nd round picks, roster player, good prospect. Some might think that’s crazy but GM’s know the key to success is youth, not trading for a 30 year old so once all the GM’s that are actually interested get deeper into negotiations they will be learning what others are asking as the Kings asks evolve as deals progress. It won’t be 2 firsts and all those things listed because Brian Burke doesn’t work in the NHL anymore and Doughty isn’t 21.

Can the Habs absorb Doughty and (insert bloated contract here)?

Yes they can.

Montreal only has one new era contract on the books in Carey Price’s $10.5 million dollar deal. Weber’s is a reasonable $7.8 million for almost a generation more, but if he retires the Predators get crushed against their cap so that deal isn’t hampering the team. Drouin and Gallagher have sweet heart deals. In fact, Drouin’s $5.5 million dollar deal is the highest paying F contract. That’s really saying something to Bergevin’s cap management. DON”T CLOSE THE BLOG! LET ME EXPLAIN!

Yes, Bergevin’s abundance of cap space has been a talking point and criticism and sure I can accept people not liking what has happened. But, conversely Bergevin has started a proper retool of club that did have some good leaders and young players. We moved up in the draft lotto to help the cause as well by grabbing future (like next month?) top 6 C Kotkaniemi, then dealt a player who wanted out for cap bargain Tatar, a quality 2019 2nd (CBJ), and OHL super star N Suzuki (20 G, 43 Pts, 28 GP). The Habs also have Ryan O’Reilly comparable NCAA star Center Ryan Poehling coming in very soon.

The Habs have Blue Chip young forwards coming in next year and an abundance of cap space to insulate them.

By the trade deadline I think the Habs will have an adjusted cap space of over $40 million? If they are in the hunt they can make a move, if they are out and teams need to dump players to make deals work then we can take them along with a pick to maximize assets. Win win because of the cap space and the team playing well in this system.

Now, I know for a fact there will be immediate comments on this that say the Habs should not be spending any picks right now. Makes sense. But, how often is a Drew Doughty available, with no trade protection, in his prime…. Never.

The Canadiens biggest weakness is on Defense. It’s costing them wins, with all due respect to the group playing. The team is playing well and they deserve credit for that too, but when you watch the games you see there are many guys still getting exposed too often.

Doughty, like Weber, is a RD. So, this doesn’t necessarily address the biggest concern on D which is the left side, BUT it would give them the best D depth they’ve had in decades.

Consider that Petry is included in this package as well. Petry has 2 years after this one at $5.5 million and is a very good offensive D man. If he was shopped he would fetch a good return himself. In fact, if LA was to acquire Petry they could only have 2 more seasons at half the cost of Doughty, and he would be able to play well OR they could package him at the deadline and get paid again.

So perhaps the Canadiens double their RD budget next season by adding Doughty, but the cap is rising about $4 million and thats almost all of the extra it would cost against the cap to add Doughty while subtracting Petry. It becomes a cap wash for a team with lots of cap space.

Doughty would be all round better than Petry due to his defensive play so now the top 4 has been stabilized in front of Price. Not to mention any D man you bring in now has Doughty and Weber to learn from and lean on. Pretty much ideal for a hockey club.

The Canadiens could make an offer that included their 2019 or 2020 1st round pick, a 2nd round pick in 2019, a couple 4th round picks this draft and next (they have 2 in each).

Add to that Petry who could fetch a 1st round pick at the deadline for LA.

Now the tough part will be the Kings will one one of Suzuki or Poehling, but Bergevin won’t move them.

The Habs should not look at moving D prospect Josh Brook (9 G, 33 Pts, 25 GP) either as he looks like he’s the Canadiens best all round D prospect in a long time. Anyone else is fair game to make this deal happen, in my opinion, and the Habs have some very good prospects in the system for LA to choose from.

AGM T Timmins gets credit for being one the NHL’s top talent scouts and the opportunity to raid his pantry is something any GM would like.

The Canadiens would turn a weakness into a strength to support the great play of the team this season. Advanced stats show this team can play, but they need help on defense. We have seen what a player on RD can do for his pair in Weber. Doing the same with Doughty is entirely possible and would give the Canadiens an enviable D core for the next 8 years. Good, young players like Mete, Juulsen, and Reilly get a chance to play with elite D men, future Hall of Fame players. The experience and effect would be invaluable.

Better play in front of Price improves his play as a result and the Canadiens will get more wins to secure not only a playoff position, but a shot at actually making some noise for the next 5 seasons.

Some may dismiss this idea entirely and that’s a valid stance as well, but I think that if they could deal the assets I listed for the remainder of Doughty’s prime and time in the NHL they should definitely do it. It’s like adding another Weber for now and the future.

The implications on the cap would be minimal for the next few years as well. As I mentioned, they would be replacing Petry’s cap hit at double the amount ($5.5 million) but adding $4 million in cap space at the end of the season from the cap increase so you add Doughty for $1.5 million above and beyond this seasons cap. This leaves MTL with about $5.5 million of space after signing Lehkonen and shedding Benn and Niemi for AHL soldiers.

It could be even more should MTL find a taker for Alzner…. All in all, the cap situation would be fine with the bulk of MTL’s money being spent from the net out, but when you have great deals on your top forwards, you can make a move like this in the near term and not have to worry about the next big pay day for 2 more seasons and two more potential cap raises. A cap raise is almost a certainty with Seattle coming in a couple seasons.

If Doughty is on the move this season, you can bet Bergevin will be involved until the end. If he strikes out, expect the Habs to pay $12 million or more on Karlsson this summer.

Yep, I said it.

Go Habs Go
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