Gorges still can’t explain falling out of favor in Montreal

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To hear him tell it, Josh Gorges has yet to hear a legit reason why the Canadiens traded him away.

“I wish I had a really good answer — where this came from and why, and how it came about — but I don’t, to be honest,” Gorges told the Kelowna Courier, just weeks after getting dealt to Buffalo. “It was a shock to me.”

Gorges, 29, was at the center of a whirlwind scenario near the end of June, when his name popped up — seemingly out out of nowhere — in a flurry of trade rumors. His name first surfaced on the eve of free agency when reports revealed he’d been dangled by Montreal in a proposed move to Toronto, only for Gorges to reject the move as part of his no-trade clause.

Eventually, he accepted a deal to Buffalo.

Deeply disappointed” by what transpired, Gorges — signed through 2017-18 for a cap hit of $3.9 million — said he “never wanted to leave Montreal,” adding “in no way has this been my decision.”

But it’s that cap number that could’ve played him out of town. Signed by ex-GM Pierre Gauthier, Gorges (and his contract) were inherited by current GM Marc Bergevin, who’s currently in the midst of a dicey financial summer — yesterday, he avoided arbitration with RFA Lars Eller by inking the forward to a four-year, $14 million deal; now, Bergevin must sort out negotiations with franchise defenseman P.K. Subban, which will undoubtedly be pricey.

By shedding Gorges’ cap hit, Bergevin also freed up money for the future. Next year, young forwards Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher are RFAs, as are promising defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu.

But either that message wasn’t relayed to Gorges, or he wasn’t buying it.

“Not really,” Gorges said when asked if he got a satisfactory explanation for what transpired. “To be honest, I don’t need one or want one. It doesn’t do me any good, it doesn’t do my family any good.

“The thing for us is to look ahead, look to the future and what’s in front of us.”

Montreal south? Buffalo signs Gionta: three years, $12.75M

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The Montreal-Buffalo rivalry in the Atlantic Division should be spicy next year.

Buffalo, having already acquired Habs alternate captain Josh Gorges earlier today, have now inked ex-Canadiens captain Brian Gionta to a three-year, $12.75 million pact, per Sportsnet.

Gionta, 35, just wrapped a five-year, $25 million deal signed with the Habs in 2008. He had worn the “C” since 2010 and rebounded well from a twice-torn bicep that limited him to 31 games in 2011-12 and forced him to miss the final three games of Montreal’s 2013 postseason.

This season, Gionta scored 18 goals and 40 points in 81 games, but saw his TOI average dip below 18 minutes for the first time in five years. The captain also chipped in with seven points in 17 playoff games, but managed to score just one goal.

He should provide leadership to what promises to be a very young Buffalo team next year, and further helps the team get to the salary cap floor.

 

 

Markov signs three-year, $17.25 million deal with Montreal

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One of the top offensive defensemen has been scratched off the list of potential unrestricted free agents. The Montreal Canadiens have announced that they inked Andrei Markov to a three-year contract. The financial terms were not disclosed, but he will reportedly earn $17.25 million over the length of the deal, according to TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie.

If that’s the case, then Markov’s new contract is identical to the one he just completed. He will turn 36 in December, so his age is increasingly becoming a factor, but he’s coming off of a season where he scored seven goals and 43 points in 81 games. That includes 21 points with the man advantage, which put him in a tie for 11th place among defensemen.

Markov has also been a workhorse for the Canadiens for years and was one of just 11 players to average 25 or more minutes in 2013-14.

With Markov signed, the Canadiens now have roughly $51.4 million in cap space committed to 18 players, per Cap Geek. That leaves them with plenty of space to re-sign restricted free agent P.K. Subban, who is likely to command a lucrative deal after winning the Norris Trophy in 2013 and recording 53 points last season.

Report: Weise, Canadiens close to new deal

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Dale Weise clearly enjoyed playing in Montreal the past few months. The Canadiens very well could feel the rugged winger fits into their plans moving forward.

Weise, a pending restricted free agent who was on a one-year contract worth a $750,000 cap hit, and the Habs are reportedly close to a new deal, according to a report from Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports. Lavoie stated on Twitter that the deal could be confirmed as early as Tuesday.

The Canadiens acquired Weise in February, prior to the Olympic break, from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for defenseman Raphael Diaz.

Weise may never be known as a goal scorer, his physical game suiting him more for a solid fourth-line role with the ability to move up to the third line if need be. But in 17 regular season games with Montreal, he scored three times, the same amount he had in Vancouver in 44 games.

He clearly fell out of favor with Vancouver’s now former bench boss John Tortorella, but gained the trust of Michel Therrien. It no doubt helped his cause that he was able to chip in offensively in the post-season.

However, Weise’s playoffs came to an end in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final when he suffered a concussion on a hit to the head from New York Rangers defenseman John Moore, who received a two-game suspension.

Canadiens ink Therrien to four-year extension

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Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is keeping things busy the day after the Stanley Cup Final.

The Canadiens announced they’ve signed coach Michel Therrien to a four-year extension to remain behind the bench in Montreal through the 2018-19 season. Therrien re-joined the Habs as coach in 2012 and led them to the Eastern Conference Final this season.

“We’re very happy to have agreed to a contract extension with Michel Therrien for multiple seasons,” Bergevin said in the team’s release. “Michel is an accomplished and experienced coach who has instilled a culture of hard work in our organization while helping develop our young players. Michel and his coaching staff work in a unique and demanding hockey market and the team’s success over the last two seasons are a reflection of their excellent work. This decision reflects our desire for stability and consistency within our hockey operations department.”

Therrien’s decisions are always under a microscope in Montreal and this season, in spite of the success the team had, he faced harsh questions about his lineup decisions. In particular his use of Douglas Murray in the postseason as opposed to Francis Bouillon or Jarred Tinordi in the early rounds seemed to rankle Habs supporters.

At the very least, the Habs must be sold that Therrien’s ways are good for Carey Price and P.K. Subban as they’re both going to be there a long time.

Now that Therrien has four more years, Bergevin hopes the success the team had this season can be built upon and get the Canadiens back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993.