If Savard gets a $4.2 million cap hit... (Plus Leafs/Habs preview)

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This morning, Bob Mackenzie broke the story that the Bruins had extended center Marc Savard for 7 years. The deal averages out to about $4.2 million (over half a million less than what was circulating around the rumor mill), which seems almost ridiculous when you consider what kind of player Savard is. While we haven't found out what kind of money Savard will make each year, I'd bet a fair sum that it's pretty heavily loaded in the first few years.

Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo sports puts it into context:

With his $4.2 million hit annually, Savard will cost less against the cap than Tim Connolly(notes) ($4.5 million), Daymond Langkow(notes) ($4.5 million), Martin Erat(notes) and David Legwand(notes) ($4.5 million each), Milan Michalek(notes) ($4.33 million) and Andy McDonald(notes) ($4.7 million).

Not exactly a slew of 90-point centers in that group, huh? Because Boston just signed theirs for seven years. Which probably makes many Bruins fans very happy, and makes non-Bruins fans wonder why their centers cost about $2.5 million more against the cap.

The deal is pretty logic when you consider everything though. Savard will turn 33 when his new deal takes affect, and 39 when it ends. To assume he won't be making much more than a million or two when it comes up would probably make sense. When you take those last couple of years off the contract, the deal would likely average over $6 million per year.

Still, in today's NHL, it's the cap hit that counts more than anything.

That being said, there's another center that's headed towards free agency that is probably looking at this deal and wonder. Thomas Plekanec is not a 90 point player like Savard is, but he would probably rank up there with Savard in terms of overall contribution. He's had three 20+ goal seasons in a row, and while he's only on pace for 18 goals this year, he'll probably end up with over 70 points, which would be a career high for Pleks. In 337 games, he's put up 209 points. More importantly, he's a career +28.

He plays on the power play , even strength, and is the Habs top penalty killer. He makes the players around him better, and keeps himself looking good, regardless of who's on his wings (and that list is a long one this year).

Many have wondered about Plekanec. Was last year the anomaly, or is he playing over his head this year? Personally, I think last year was the off year, and the Pleks we're seeing now, and the Pleks we saw 2 years ago is the real deal.

And he needs to stay in this city, on this team. He wants to, we want him, there's no reason for him to leave. There's no reason for him to still be an impending UFA. And hopefully, this new Savard deal gets Bob Gainey going. Savard's cap number is what I already expected for Pleks. With this deal out there, there's no reason not to get a 5 year, front loaded, $4 million average deal for Plekanec done before Christmas.

Plekanec will appreciate it, the fans will like it, and it doesn't hurt the cap any more than it needs to. It would be a nice Christmas present for the Habs, and a nice gift to ownership, which would be reassured they have a solid 1-2 punch at center for a reasonable amount (Scott Gomez's deal considered...), and Gainey doesn't have to deal with the headache of resigning a player who might get 80 points and an Olympic medal this year with free agency looming.

Get'r'done Bob!

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LEAFS AT HABS - RIVALRIES RENEWED

Is it bad that I don't feel like there's much to say about tonight's clash at the Bell Centre?

We all know of the rivalry between the Habs and Leafs. We've witnessed it twice so far in the young season. We all know of the Mike Komisarek storyline, and his return to Montreal for the second time tonight. We know that things between Sergei Kostitsyn and Grabovski might get interesting tonight. And we know it's going to a tight, exciting game.

It always is!

And despite injuries, the Leafs troubles this season, and everything else that's going on, it's certain to be the game of the night.

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LINE UPS, NOTES, and STATS

Habs Inside/Out has confirmed that Carey Price will be between the pipes, yet again. No surprise, and despite letting in 3 goals on Saturday night against the Caps and in the shootout, Price is where he needs to be. I anticipate that Halak will get the call Thursday against the Sabres, so that Price can play the Centennial game the next night against the Bruins.

Tonight, it's all up to Price. Gustavvson is expected to start for the Leafs, despite playing in last night's 3-0 shootout loss to the Sabres.

The Habs are getting some relief at the forward positions tonight, as Scott Gomez and Matt D'Agostini are set to return. Here are the projected lines:

Cammalleri - Plekanec - S. Kostitsyn
Pacioretty - Gomez - Moen
White - Lapierre - Pyatt
D'Agostini - Metropolit - Chipchura

Jay Leach, who dressed as a forward on Saturday, is a healthy scratch, and no changes on defense.

Andrei Kostitsyn and Hal Gill skated with the team this morning. Gill will likely play in the Centennial game, but there is no timetable for Kostitsyn's return.

Here are tonight's key stats...

-- HABS LEAFS
Goals: Cammalleri (12) Hagman(13)
Assists: Plekanec (19) Kaberle (23)
Points: Plekanec (25) Kaberle (25)
Pluys/Minus: Cammalleri (+10) White (+4)
Time on Ice: Hamrlik (24:55 per game) Beauchemin (25:11 per game)
PIMs: Mara(39) Orr (64)
Shots: Cammalleri(91) Blake (78)
Injuries: Markov (ankle, end of december)
Gill (foot, day-to-day)
Gionta (foot, week-to-week)
Pouliot (wrist, day-to-day)
Laraque (suspension)
Kostitsyn (foot, indefinitely)
Van Ryn (knee, done)
Toskala (Groin, day-to-day)
Mitchell (knee, indefinitely)
Gunnarsson (upper body, day-to-day)
Finger (lower body, day-to-day)

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LINKS

- Inside Hockey's November report for the Habs, by David Bol.

- Habs named ''Canada's team'' in Ipsos-Reid poll.

- RDS Game Story.(french)

- Steve Kerley updates us on the Leafs since their last visit on Habs Inside/Out. Great read.

- Stéphane Leroux at RDS on Louis Leblanc's 2010 junior team chances (french)

- Corus Sports on The difficult month ahead for the Habs (french)

- As posted the last two days on TCL, Detailed injury reports for the Northwest Division and the Northeast division. Tonight, I will post the Central Division injury report!

- Also on TCL, Ballard takes out his own goaltender.

- Carey Price named Habs player of the Month for second monht in a row.(french)

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FINAL PREDICTION: Habs 5 - Leafs 4, shootout

The Leafs played last night and might be a few men short, but they always step it up for games in Montreal. The game will be tight as it always is, but the Habs should take this one. Hoping for a big night from Cammalleri and Plekanec, and a big return for Gomez beside the streaking Pacioretty and Moen.

Enjoy the game!

Prax
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