Saturday, September 16, 2017

Karl Alzner Autograph card

Amid the series of questionable-to-awful-to-terrible moves Montréal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has made this summer, one signing seems out of place for being smart, reasonable and savvy: the free agent signing of former Washinton Capitals defensive defenseman Karl Alzner. It won't be enough for the team to make the playoffs, but it was a very good move.

In Alzner, the Habs get a high-level defensive specialist the likes of which they haven't had since Josh Gorges in his prime. He's a good shot blocker who intercepts the puck well by covering passing lanes in the defensive zone. He's reliable and can kill penalties. In terms of pure skill, he's an upgrade over the loss of Alexei Emelin, tough Emelin's departure leaves just Shea Weber as a capable, physical checker.

What hurts Montréal most is who else left over the summer, because in addition to Emelin's hard-hitting checks, Andrei Markov and Nikita Nesterov both left for the KHL, Nathan Beaulieu was sent to the Buffalo Sabres, and future Norris Trophy contender Mikhail Sergachev was sent to division rivals Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin (whose offense merely replaces that of free agent goner Alexander Radulov). And that's just on defense (well, apart from Radulov). The Habs also lost heavy depth players Brian Flynn, Steve Ott and Dwight King, but they already had 15 fourth-liners, so that hurts less - except for the fact that those are probably guys who would fit better under "new" head coach Claude Julien's preferred style of play.

All told, I expect a difficult season in La Métropole, one filled with growing pains and fan anger, perhaps even (gasp!) not selling out every game. There will be panic-induced trades, and Bergevin might not make it until next season. After all, Patrick Roy's contract with the Colorado Avalanche has now run its course, and he's now free to peddle his services anywhere he wants to. And he really wants to make the Canadiens contenders again. And he still believes in Carey Price, whose $84M, 8-year contract is a no-trade clause by itself.

But Alzner's five-year deal worth $4.65M per season is a good bargain.

Here he is on card #A-Al from Upper Deck's 2011-12 Artifacts set and Autofacts sub-set:
It features a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph - and a relatively clear one at that - with his uniform number with the Caps (27) tagged at the end.

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