The Huet 'Conundrum'

Richard Wolowicz/Icon SMI

What to do with Cristobal Huet? Many people say trade him away at the deadline, some say let him go at the end of the season in case we do make a playoff run, some (although few) say get Price starting right NOW.

While all of these people have valid points, I believe that trading Huet will be a gamble no mater what.

According to Montreal has $2.124M in cap space. Huet is a $2.875M cap hit. Although I do not want to see it happen, I strongly believe that Huet will be traded by the deadline and the reigns will be handed over to Price and Halak/Danis. Barring some monster season (GAA under 2 and a save % above .930) I think Huet will be gone. I seriously doubt that Huet will go anywhere but to a Western Conference team, likely one of these 5 teams:
San Jose (For a SOLID backup for Nabokov)
Los Angeles (If miraculously they are in the playoff race)
Detroit (If Osgood/Hasek goes down)
Minnesota (If Backstrom can’t keep playing the way he has been)
Columbus (Huet would be a better backup than Norena)
I’ll quickly break down some of my possible deals between each of these teams.
San Jose Sharks
This would be a deadline deal for sure. San Jose is considered by many to be a serious cup contender, and if they are living up to those expectations in March look for them to pursue a backup goalie or some insurance in case of a Nabokov injury. The Sharks are sitting on $8.208M in cap space, so Huet ‘s $2.875M hit will not be too great of an impact. Montreal and San Jose have worked out deals before (i.e. the Craig Rivet deal) and I would not be surprised to see them go at it again. I can also see the Sharks trying to go after Michael Ryder in order to provide some strong secondary scoring, and it would not be a long term gamble for them to take on both of these guys, with them becoming UFAs at the end of they year. Unfortunately I also see Bob wanting to get rid of one of the most underrated guys on the Habs in Josh Gorges. Now to a possible deal, and unlike many, I won’t waste your time with another Marleau fantasy.
Possible trade:
To San Jose: Cristobal Huet, Michael Ryder, Josh Gorges, (1st) or (2nd and/or 3rd round pick)
To Montreal: Steve Bernier
Montreal can afford to send away a draft pick for once. Our system has drafted some excellent prospects (i.e. Chipchura, Kostitsyn, Kostitsyn, Grabovski, Latendresse, Plekanec, Lapierre, D’Agostini, Locke, Carle, McDonagh, O’Byrne, and Valentenko) and it would be worth it to try to grab Bernier from the Sharks. Although the Sharks are likely unwilling to move
Bernier, this deal could be too good to pass up as they’d have a short term boost and a good set of picks for the future. Bernier, who is a 225 lb power forward with a scoring touch, is exactly what Montreal is looking for. Montreal would likely have the same option that they had with Rivet, which is to resign either Ryder or Huet, or even both if desired.
Los Angeles Kings
In my opinion the least likely trade partner of the 5 mentioned, Los Angeles would need what would be, in my mind, a miracle to still be involved in the playoff picture by the deadline. So if Montreal were to trade to L.A., I could see it happening sooner rather than later. Remember that I said this is the least likely especially with the Kings seeming completely unwilling to move ANY young talent.
Possible trades:
To Los Angeles: Cristobal Huet
To Montreal: J.S. Aubin, 2nd round pick
The deal is a stretch, but J.S. Aubin would not be a factor in Montreal, he’d simply be an emergency 4th goalie, and would likely be placed on waivers upon acquisition. Including him in the deal is simply to keep roster sizes the same and to dump a tiny bit of salary ($.525M)
To Los Angeles: Cristobal Huet
To Montreal: 2nd round pick, 6th round pick
I’m taking into consideration what Crawford said about the team’s prospects so I’m not including them in deals. This is why I find both of these to be highly unlikely because Montreal will obviously be looking for a young(ish) power forward to contribute immediately.
Detroit Red Wings
Hasek and Osgood, at 42 and 34 years old respectively, are not exactly the most durable goaltenders, and if either of them goes down for a long period of time, especially Hasek, look for them to make a move for Huet. I don’t see the Wings winning the Forsberg sweepstakes, so they’d still have $2.544M in cap space. This means that they’d have to dump a player on Montreal who has little or no value to them, like Zetterberg…just kidding. I can’t tell when or even if Hasek or Osgood will go down, but when/if it does happen, expect a flurry of activity from the Wings’ camp.

Possible Trade:

To Detroit: Cristobal Huet
To Montreal: Valtteri Filppula, 5th or 6th round pick
Filppula, who brings with him a cap hit of $.733M would clear enough room for the much needed Huet. Montreal would possibly be able to get a bargain from the Wings and bring in the 23 year old Finnish Center, along with a low draft pick. This would be an example of a deal in which I’d expect Montreal to re-sign Huet when he becomes a UFA, as he wouldn’t be in the Wings’ long term plans. Note* I would have included a Swedish player coming from Montreal, but we don’t have any!
Minnesota Wild
I’ve got to admit I’m living out a fantasy by writing this, so dismiss it if you wish, but I’d love to see two Koivu’s on the Habs roster. I believe that Saku’s 24 year old brother has a tremendous upside, and that he’d be an amazing fit in Montreal. Montreal would have to give up much more than Huet alone unless Backstrom goes down or struggles, but even then Montreal would have to send a lot over. I know he (Koivu) has been locked up long term, and this deal is by far the most NHL 2008ish, but let me dream!
Possible trade:
To Minnesota: Cristobal Huet, Michael Ryder, 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick in 09
To Montreal: Mikko Koivu, Cal Clutterbuck, Keith Carney
Now you see why this is fantasy… Trying to work out a possible deal with Minnesota is a nightmare, so I don’t see how the two GMs could manage it. Carney is in there because he free up cap spcae for the Wild, and Clutterbuck is there because: A)He’s a decent 19 year old prospect and B)I like his name. Bottom line, this won’t happen but hey, it was fun to think up.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Leclaire has been impressive, recording I believe 4 shoutouts in 7 starts, but I’m not so eager to jump on his band wagon. Remember Brian Boucher? Mr 5 shutouts + a few minutes in a row? Now where has he ended up? Honestly I want to know… I think he’s a UFA but I honestly have no clue. What I’m saying is that the 27 year old Leclaire could easily falter if the Jackets were to lose a D-man, and then the Jackets would find themselves right back where they were last year. With their mammoth $8.929M in cap room, Columbus could easily fit Huet on to their roster. This is the team that Montreal stupidly gave Ron Hainsey to, so I’d be wary if I was Gainey.
Possible trade:
To Columbus: Cristobal Huet, 1st or 2nd round pick
To Montreal: Nikolai Zherdev
Now I know at the outset people may not like this deal(from either Columbus’ point of view or Montreal’s…), but I think that Zherdev could fit well into Montreal. His rookie season was no fluke, and if playing with the right guys I think he would fit well into Montreal. Now I’m not certain about how Columbus management is feeling about Zherdev right now, but if they are frustrated with him Montreal would likely be able to give up only a little bit to bring him in. However I doubt Montreal would escape with anything lower than a 2nd. It’s one of those rare cases where you WA
NT to bring in somebody who is struggling. The problem with Zherdev is the salary he brings with him in 08/09 ($3.250M), yet it could be a steal for Montreal because this guy is still only 22 years old.
Remember ALL of these deals are not sourced, they are simply my ideas if Montreal does decide to trade away Huet, which I hope they don’t do. In fact I hope they re-sign him, but that’s beside the point because I see management shipping him out or letting him go.
Now I know you read my articles all the time Mr. Gainey, so please feel free to accept my advice…