I guess playing the waiting game pays off

In a summer where players, both of the UFA variety as well those who are restricted, are getting absurd contracts, Habs GM Bob Gainey looks to have pulled a fast one on the rest of the league. While many of his peers blew their financial brains out, getting caught up in the free agent frenzy two weeks ago, Gainey bided his time and waited for the right deal.

It looks to have paid off.

The Canadiens signed Sergei Samsonov Wednesday to a very reasonable two-year, $7.05 million deal.

That's right, a contract that doesn't make you do a spit take and wonder what the people involved were on when they drew it up.

Given what guys like Pavel Kubina ($5 million per year), Martin Havlat ($6 million), and Brian Pothier ($2.5 million) were able to convince obviously intoxicated NHL executives to give them, I was expecting Samsonov to command upwards of $5 million.

He's a dynamic, exciting, explosive player who can take over a game, and is tailor-made for the new NHL and the rules that encompass it. Where previously, his lack of size was a detriment, Samsonov's small frame now suits the game perfectly.

This isn't to suggest there aren't risks involved. Samsonov has been known to have consistency issues and has battled injury troubles throughout his career. But at $3.5 mil, it's a roll of the dice I would've thought every GM would take any day of the week. The upside of what he could bring far outweighs the negatives attached.

Earlier in the day, Gainey improved the Habs by unloading slacker Richard Zednik and bringing in Mike Johnson, improving his draft status in the process. Zednik is a talented player, but has spurts of invisibility that cannot be explained, and often he seems to possess nothing remotely resembling desire. He did some good things in La Belle Province, but it was time to move on.

In Johnson, they get a tremendously gifted playmaker who, I would think, will be able to be the set up man for Michael Ryder that Mike Ribeiro couldn't be. He's not a hard-nosed player, but his offensive talents are needed on a team that struggled to score goals last season Johnson will provide offence, that much is for sure. Leave the hitting to the others.

I heard lots of calls from frustrated Habs fans, angry their guardian was on the sidelines watching every other team at least make an attempt to get better. Gainey waited them all out and, in the course of about 12 hours, drastically improved his team, and didn't cripple the club financially in the process.

Show 'em how it's done.