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?