With just one sleep standing between the Habs' GM and a beach bag full of prospects, Gauthier couldn't wait to get the party started in southern California.
"Like every NHL team, our plan is to draft the best player available," hinted Gauthier on Draft Day Eve. "Nobody drafts based on need these days because the players you're going to pick up on Friday and Saturday won't generally have an impact until five years down the road. Who knows what our needs will be five years from now?"
After combing the planet in search of the top young players in the game, the Canadiens' Draft Day team is now ready to step up to the podium on Friday night.
"We can get players or not via free agency or maybe we'll make a trade, but one thing is guaranteed: we can always draft players every year," reminded Gauthier. "With the new CBA and the salary cap world we live in, the performance of your young players is more important than ever. Just look at Chicago with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane - two players who had a big impact on the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup this year who weren't taking up much Cap space."
There may still be a week left until the start of Free Agency, but the league's GMs aren't sitting around just waiting for the market to open.
So far, 10 of his players have received qualifying offers, including Carey Price, Sergei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre, Tom Pyatt, Mathieu Carle, Cedrick Desjardins, Brock Trotter, David Desharnais, Ryan Russell, and J.T. Wyman.
Meanwhile, Benoit Pouliot, Michael Busto, Gregory Stewart and Mikael Johansson have yet to receive theirs.
"It's merely a question of a longer evaluation process for certain players," explained Gauthier on Pouliot, the headliner of that quartet. "The important thing isn't when, but the end result. We have until Monday to proceed for those players."
When it comes to hockey in Montreal, even a mid-summer press conference is a good time to talk about the Habs' goaltending situation. Fresh off his dealing of Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis, Gauthier is now hard at work to find Price's new crease-mate.
"Cedrick Desjardins and Curtis Sanford both played extremely well in Hamilton this season and they are both options, as is looking to the free agent market or making a trade," revealed Gauthier. "But it's always really important to have another good goalie. During a season, every game is so important."
So are the next few hours and days.
Alexandre Harvey is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.
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