Friday, September 30, 2005

Why The Habs May Not Want Latendresse to Make the Team

Today, Montreal traded Marcel Hossa to the New York Rangers for Garth Murray. This is assumed to mean that Hossa was not going to make the team this year and since he would have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors they would likely lose him. Garth Murray has a lot of potential but will not have to clear waivers to go to the minors, so they didn't lose a good young player. They still have one to show for Hossa - although its likely a downgrade. Murray has already been sent to the minors. In their article on this trade, TSN assumes that Guillaume Latendresse might make the team in his place - although that is not a given with Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins and Alexander Perezhogin around.

I think that Latendresse probably will not make the team this year - at least not for as long as ten NHL games. I don't think Montreal wants him to make their team. This is despite the fact that Latendresse has been a pre-season star and he is currently 4th in Montreal's pre-season scoring (he is behind newcomer Radek Bonk, the recently traded Marcel Hossa and Tomas Plekanec) and has been a fan favorite.

Latendresse is an 18 year old who was picked in the second round in the 2005 draft 45th overall. He was considered a top 2005 draft pick a year before the draft, but had an offseason shoulder surgery in 2004 and got off to a slow start in the QMJHL last year that slipped his position in the draft.

Under the new CBA free agency ages will drop. Players Latendresse's age will become unrestricted free agents at age 27 or after playing seven NHL seasons. If Latendresse plays 10 or more games this year, it will count as a season. He will then have seven seasons by age 25. Montreal would have Latendresse from age 18 to 25. If they send him back to junior, they can have him from age 19 to 26 (or possibly 20-27). Most likely, the extra season when he is closer to his prime, will be better than his season at age 18. Montreal benefits longterm if they send him to the minors.

Wasn't it nice when the best player available got the NHL job as opposed to the one that best fit the CBA? There are other players in this situation. Tom Benjamin writes about how Luc Bourdon of the Vancouver Canucks is in the same situation.

NOTE: Montreal just sent Latendresse back to junior. TSN's story is here.

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