The Habs have dished off their headache, Sergei Samsonov to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Jassen Cullimore and Tony Salmelainen.
The Habs get: rid of Samsonov's large contract. In exchange, they naturally had to take a pretty large contract back themselves in Jassen Cullimore. $1.9 million is a lot to play for a serviceable No. 5 defenseman, but at least they'll play him. They weren't playing Samsonov and his $3.5 million contract. The key to this deal was the salary reduction, but they also had an ulterior motive. Salmelainen is a highly talented diminutive winger. He can do everything Samsonov can - including not show up for games. The Habs technically free up $900K in salary, gain a rearguard and not lose anything (yes, I'm saying Salmelainen and Samsonov have equal potential, despite the latter's proven track record). Don't forget another possibility: the Habs could buy out Cullimore's contract, which would be cheaper than buying out Samsonov's.
The Hawks get: to take a chance on Sergei Samsonov, who in my mind will bounce back on this team. He is a Denis Savard kind of player - fast, exciting and offensive. Slot him in on the other wing on Martin Havlat's line and watch those two go. Find the right European to center the two, and you just might have something. They weren't using Salmelainen anyway and they have enough kids to cover the loss of Cullimore.
Fantasy Players Impacted: Samsonov just went from minimal fantasy value to back where he was when he was in Boston. I could sit on the sidelines like most experts and say he "could improve and get 65-75 points, or he could be a bust again"...but I won't. I'm confident that he will flourish in Chicago and will reach those numbers. He's too young to be done and he couldn't have found a better team - even Pittsburgh wouldn't have been this good a fit (see Ekman for details).
This may be a small drag on Radim Vrbata's production, but I think Vrbata improves this year. The Hawks are building their forward corps and it looks like they will have two big lines when it's all said and done.
Tony Salmelainen owners (like myself, in one pool) can now hang onto him. I was going to drop him, but his upside of 60 to 65 points is worth giving him one more shot this year. I doubt Carbonneau will like him, but stranger things have happened. The Habs are not against playing small forwards, that's for sure.