Should the Canucks put in a claim on BC Born defenseman Steve Montador?

Thomas Drance
March 11 2013 01:06PM


Steve Montador battles Chris Higgins. Future teammates?

The Chicago Blackhawks have placed defenseman Steve Montador on waivers today, and the Canucks should probably consider claiming him. It isn't a slam-dunk or anything, Montador has dealt with a variety of concussion issues over the past couple of years, is somewhat overpaid for a third-pairing defenseman, and has two years remaining on his deal after this season (with a 2.75 million dollar cap-hit). But he's a right-side defenseman and a quality possession player who can be had for free on the waiver wire. That sounds like something the Canucks could use.

Read on past the jump.

Let's start with the three glaring reasons that I see why the Canucks should be hesitant to put in a waiver claim on Steve Montador. The first is obvious: due to a variety of concussion issues, Montador has struggled to stay in the lineup since joining the Blackhawks in the summer of 2011. He missed thirty games with an upper-body injury and a concussion a year ago and has yet to play a single game this season due to lingering issues with his previous head injury. So that's a pretty significant red flag.

The secondary issues have to do with the salary cap, of course. The Canucks are already right up against the cap ceilling this season and capgeek.com projects them as having roughly 1.9 million in space at the moment. Even if you add in the extra 425,000 in cap-savings the team incurs by sending Jordan Schroeder down ($1,025,000 cap hit) and replacing him with Andrew Ebbett ($600,000 cap-hit), that isn't quite enough to fit Montador's 2.75 cap-hit under the ceiling without some extra gymnastics.

But pretty much all the Canucks would need to do to fit Montador on the roster this season is either put Ryan Kesler on LTIR or move a player like Cam Barker. So the team is in a position to add Montador without too much pain in the short-term, but that situation gets significantly hairier for Canucks management this offseason.

As it stands at the moment, the Canucks have a hair under four million in cap-space for next season (per capgeek.com), and only have fourteen players under contract. That means that this summer the club has to sign nine more players for an average cap-hit of roughly $440,000, and that figure is already well below the NHL minimum. So to put it simply: the Canucks need to make some serious moves this summer to fill out their roster even if they standpat between now and the April third trade deadline. Even if the team moves a goaltender for nothing but cap space, and uses a compliance buyout on Keith Ballard or David Booth: Montador would add some granola to an already cap-crunchy situation.

The other thing claiming Steve Montador would do is lets the Blackhawks off the mat. Just this weekend Larry Brooks theorized that the Blackhawks might consider using a compliance buyout on Marian Hossa this offseason just to duck the cap-recapture clause (or the Luongo rule - as you prefer). Claiming Montador would also give the Blackhawks roughly six million in cap-space to play with at the trade deadline this year (per capgeek.com, of course) and they've got a deep enough prospect pool that they could probably add a significant piece to an already loaded roster...

So those negatives are pretty significant. On the other hand, Montador is - if healthy - pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered for the Canucks. He's solid, he has a right-handed shot, he can play on the power-play and he crushes it from a puck possession standpoint. He'd be a significant upgrade on Vancouver's current defensive depth and can be added without any cost in prospect treasure or other assets. 

So I'm pretty much torn on this question but I'm curious to hear what you think, dear readers. Should the Canucks put in a claim on Steve Montador?

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 V
March 11 2013, 01:17PM
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Does it seem even remotely reasonable that the Blackhawks would get rid of arguably their best player because nine years from now, it might cause them a highly predictable headache? Brooks is nuts.

Furthermore, there are two buyouts. I think most of us should be pretty sure that Booth isn't going anywhere, so assume the worst, that Ballard can't even be converted for a 7th - can't the second one go to Montador if there's an issue?

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#2 Matt
March 11 2013, 02:23PM
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I agree with V - I don't see Booth being bought out, but Ballard and a goalie will be gone by the end of summer, one way or the other. That frees up $8-$10 million in cap space right there (assuming nothing comes back in cap space in trades, which is silly, but cross that bridge when we come to it). Even if Montador isn't quite the player he was two or three years ago because of the injuries, he's still an upgrade on Barker and maybe a side-step on Ballard from a skills point of view, but would probably be a much better fit with the Canucks system.

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#3 Matt
March 11 2013, 02:26PM
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Also, V's clearly been reading Pass it to Bulis as well ^_^

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#4 chinook
March 11 2013, 03:11PM
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Nope on Montador, Canucks need to get younger. Corrado, hopefully, is next year's solution to right side D. Leave Chicago "on the hook" in your words. Chicago looks to be in a worse crunch than Canucks next year with all the young players they would like to resign. Dumb move a few years ago (imo) signing Hossa to a fat contract and then losing Ladd, Versteeg, Brouwer, Big Buff etc. Not all, but could have kept two of them.

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#5 JCDavies
March 11 2013, 03:34PM
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@chinook

I think Corrado's a ways off from being able to contribute at the NHL level. Next year is probably too soon.

@V and @Matt

I agree that Booth isn't going to be bought out but there is still the possibility he gets traded, no?

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#6 Squibbles
March 11 2013, 03:36PM
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Corrado's only 19 isn't he? Seems to me they'd be more likely to stick him on the Wolves next year for more experience rather than moving him straight to the bigs.

I was going to say "If Montador clears waivers then he's already gotten Chicago 'off the hook' in terms of cap hit" but just remembered while typing this about the new CBA rule where he'd still partially count.

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#7 JCDavies
March 11 2013, 03:43PM
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@Thomas

If things were going better I think the Canucks could break out their "game theory" strategies and worry about what the other teams need to do with their rosters and salary caps but, at this point, the Canucks should probably worry about the Canucks.

If Montador's health is good enough to help the team win and they can make the cap work then they should put in a claim, if not...

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#8 Daniel W.
March 11 2013, 05:39PM
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@chinook

With the Canucks constantly 'overdeveloping' prospects in the minors until their definitely ready, I just don't see them throwing Corrado into the NHL just yet! I do have high hopes for him, but he's not next season's solution IMO.

@JCDavies: Exactly, if they think he'll be fine and they can make it work, that should be a good move!

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#9 Joshua Weissbock
March 11 2013, 05:51PM
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What's the cost of picking up Montador, realizing he is not a good fit, trying to waive him and then having another team pick him up?

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