With about 18 hours to go until the craziness that is unrestricted free agency in the NHL starts and 6 hours to go until Vincent gets a nice boost in his paycheck it looks more and more like he's staying here. Man what a run-on sentence that was. Montreal just pulled off a deal for a high priced center. Luckily for Lightning fans it wasn't Mr. Lecavalier.
Instead the Canadians picked up $7.35 million a year worth of Scott Gomez for Chris Higgans and some defensive prospects (Ryan MacDonagh and Pavel Valentenko) along with Wasteland favorite Doug Janik. The Rangers pick up some younger players and a ton of cap space. Does this make them players for Lecavalier now? I don't think so, but it does make Marty St Louis' $5.25 cap hit more reasonable.
Hopefully this will settle the rumors down a bit, but it's doubtful. Montreal picked up a high price center, but he's not necessarily a scoring center. Gomez's career high in the NHL is 33 and that was 4 seasons ago. The Habs now have 3 solid centerman under contract, but no real scorers. Unless of course they're counting on a breakout year for Glen Metropolit.
They still have plenty of cap room available to make a run at another high price offensive player. The chances of it being Vincent are diminished more by the fact that they traded what few assets the Lightning would want (Higgans and MacDonagh) than by his price tag. They also have the cash to pay for Vincent, which is something that is still in question with Tampa Bay.
Who else could Montreal target? Perhaps they make a run at Dany Heatley or give San Jose a call about Joe Thornton's availability. Phil Kessel almost was traded to Toronto so it wouldn't be unthinkable that Bob Gainey has been on the phone with his counterpart in Boston.
Fortunately all of that is Montreal's problem. As fascinating as it is to watch from a distance its relevance to Tampa Bay is fading. As for the hometown Lightning no news is good news so far. There isn't the trading of assets for the rights of potential free agents and they've made qualifying offers to the majority of their free agents. Commentors on the St Pete Times Blog can put their knives down now - Matt Smaby is staying in the blue and black.
The next day will be fun for some teams, hopefully for the Lightning it's rather ho-hum.
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