Sunday, February 19, 2012

Buyers vs Sellers - The Grey Area in Between

Each year as February draws to a close, and the NHL's trade deadline day looms, a conversation inevitably starts among all hockey fans, in which they attempt to categorize "their" team as either buyers, or sellers. This has ALWAYS irked me, as I don't believe that it's as black and white as people make it out to be. In fact, I take issue with people referring to the Canadiens as sellers. In order to understand why I don't like this label, you must first understand what I consider to be "buyers/sellers"...

Sellers: A team that is unsatisfied with their position in the standings prior to the trade deadline, and has decided to trade away a large portion of their roster in exchange for draft picks and prospects, in hopes of improving their chances of cup contention in the future. In doing so, the organization is making several statements:

1) We are not making a push for the playoffs
2) We are not satisfied with the production of our talent
3) We are entering a rebuilding phase

Buyers: A team who is looking for the missing pieces necessary to complete their roster for either a playoff push, or Stanley Cup contention. The organization is making a statement that says they are pleased with their talent, and are looking to fill in the gaps.

The Habs are neither of the aforementioned. They have pieces they would like to sell that unfortunately do not yield any interested buyers. They also have pieces they will likely deal away who are attractive to buyers. But more importantly, they have an encouraging core group made up of several key cornerstones:

1) Young, developing talent (Eller, Emelin, Desharnais)
2) Future superstars (Subban, Pacioretty)
3) Stellar goaltending (Price)
4) Talented, veteran leadership (Cole, Gorges)

There are other players on the Canadiens roster that could easily fit into their plans for the future, however the aforementioned are those which will play key roles in their immediate success (and by immediate, I mean over the course of the next 3-5 years).

In order to truly be "sellers", the Canadiens would need to enter a rebuilding mode, which is not necessary, as they already possess elite caliber talent. Obviously improvements need to be made, and clearly the status quo is not sufficient (in fact, the problems the Canadiens face are not brand new; they have simply been masked by superior goal tending over the past two seasons that has carried them further than they should have gone. But I digress.)

What exactly WILL the Canadiens do come deadline day? Well, it has been widely agreed upon among NHL insiders for several weeks that the Habs' movable pieces come trade deadline include(d) Gill, Moen & Kostitsyn, the former having already been dealt. The fact that the return on #75 consisted of more than a 2nd round pick is fantastic (side note: Blake Geoffrion, acquired by the Canadiens in the Gill deal, has 1G & 3A in his first two games witht he Hamilton Bulldogs, the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate). By trading away any or all of these three players, does not make the Canadiens "sellers".

The labels of "sellers/buyers" are simply a result of hockey fans needing a label to put on the mis-shapen box they insist on trying to cram "their" team into. Yes, the Habs need to retool. Yes, the Habs should (and already have) make moves prior to the trade deadline. However, they are a team that will continue to improve via off-season signings, and draft picks. Yes, this season sucks. But don't despair, Habs fans. This team isn't heading into a long, protracted period of rebuilding, where you can expect to skip the playoffs for a few years. There are already signs of encouragement for the future. So chill out, and stop labeling everything.

No comments: