Gainey, it's time to go

We're all aware of Bob Gainey's policy of not negotiating contracts during the season.

It's a weird concept that isn't embraced by many general managers around the league, simply because in the new salary-cap NHL, it is extremely important to lock up the core players of your team to long-term extensions as soon as it is financially possible.

Let's take a look at the Habs' potential free agents for the summer of 2010:

Tomas Plekanec (UFA)
Glen Metropolit (UFA)
Paul Mara (UFA)
Marc-André Bergeron (UFA)
Jay Leach (UFA)

Carey Price (RFA)
Jaroslav Halak (RFA)
Tom Pyatt (RFA)
Guillaume Latendresse (RFA)
Maxim Lapierre (RFA)
Gregory Stewart (RFA)
Matt D'Agostini (RFA)
Kyle Chipchura (RFA)

Needless to say, Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak need to be dealt with NOW, and not during golf season.

If he keeps it up, Plekanec could rack up 80 points this year. At 27, he is just entering his prime and could get upwards of 5M on the open market this summer. If Gainey doesn't sign him now, the Habs could lose him and get nothing in return (Not that this has happened before... oh wait*).

The goaltending situation is an interesting one, as one of the two is definitely on the outs after this season. If Gainey were smart, he would package Halak for a top6 forward and bring in a reliable veteran presence to mentor a hopefully-signed-long-term Carey Price. It's highly unlikely that Halak would be interested in re-signing in Montreal this summer, unless he can be the number one goalie.

Waiting longer to extend Price also raises the risks of him pulling a trick out of Phil Kessel's playbook and refuse to re-sign, which would then lead to all sorts of problems for the Canadiens. He is supposedly the franchise goaltender and needs to be dealt with now.

Gainey needs to adapt to the new reality of the NHL, and do it fast. Or go.

Are you reading this, Molson brothers?

*Michael Ryder, Sheldon Souray, Mike Komisarek, Alex Tanguay, Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev, Mark Streit, Robert Lang, to name a few.