Moving on is hard to do, just ask Martin Brodeur. However players are supposed to not want to move on, whereas teams are supposed to be harsh and calculating to make sure the best possible product is put forth on the ice. Marc Bergevin drove that ideology home this summer by trading Josh Gorges unceremoniously, and going through difficult contract negotiations with Lars Eller and P.K. Subban.
Yet, Francis Bouillon confirmed yesterday that he's still in contract talks with the Canadiens to play another year, and my question is, why? Francis Bouillon lost his job last year to the worst defenseman in the NHL, and justified or not, that's a huge indictment of his utility in this league.
Since the rumour leaked awhile ago that the Canadiens were in negotiations with Bouillon, there have been two reactions that I've seen from Canadiens fans and media. There's the much more common one summed up by this gif:
The other opinion is something along the lines of "as long as he signs for league minimum and is an insurance guy, I don't mind it". Here's the problem with that line of thinking: It's predicated on Michel Therrien believing that Bouillon is his 9th defenseman and nothing more. It's also the only reason bringing Bouillon back last year made sense, only he made three times league minimum salary and performed at an AHL level.
Francis Bouillon is about to turn 39 years old on October 17th, has a history of being prone to injury, and plays a position that the Canadiens do not lack depth for. In fact, based on both of their recent performances, it's likely a safe bet that AHL bound, and extremely cheap against the cap, Davis Drewiske is currently a better hockey player than Francis Bouillon is.
In order for Bouillon to be a guy you want to rely on in case the injury bug strikes, you have to believe that he's better than three of Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Davis Drewiske, and Mac Bennett. Bennett might be the only one he has the edge on, and even then I'd like to see more of Bennett before making that decision. He is, after all, a 23 year old, mature prospect who has been a big minute eater in the NCAA for three years.
However Bouillon's own limitations are only a small part of the problem with the idea of re-signing the journeyman defender. As is the idea of wasted cap space. The bigger problem with the entire notion of it all is that it gives Michel Therrien an excuse to not use Beaulieu and Tinordi.
If Beaulieu makes an egregious mistake defensively and Therrien wants to try someone else next year, if Bouillon is signed you can rest assured that it'll be him, and it won't be a one game replacement, it'll be until Bouillon's limitations are so exposed that losses pile up. If Beaulieu makes a mistake and Bouillon isn't signed, it's Tinordi who gets into the lineup, and the young defensemen continue to get NHL experience and grow their games.
Remember when Bergevin took over, he mentioned that he felt the team was two years away from seriously competing. Obviously the Canadiens were ahead of where he initially thought they were, but now is when Bergevin's own timeline kicks in. It's no longer a buffer period where you sign guys only for character, it's time to shit or get off the pot. When it came to crunch time last year, neither Bouillon or Murray were deemed acceptable to help the Canadiens get over the hump, but Beaulieu was. Why would Bouillon be worthwhile now, when the younger players are only getting better and he's only getting older?
You mix in Bouillon's quote from Michel Therrien's golf tournament where he was asked about the captaincy and said he didn't believe any of the young players on the Habs were mature enough for it, and you've got a guy who unnecessarily insults his own teammates while not bringing anything useful on the ice. Had he said "I don't think anyone is ready for it", no one would care, but saying other players aren't mature enough? Sounds like a grumpy old fart who knows he's about to be replaced.
No thanks, Frankie.