Today is the big press releases full of protected players day. Personally it feels like a healing balm to help with the festering burn wound that was yesterday's Cup final.
Here is your creamy filled list of protected goodness:
Sean Johnson - GK
Cory Gibbs - DEF
Jalil Anibaba - DEF
Gonzalo Segares - DEF
Pavel Pardo - MID
Logan Pause - MID
Marco Pappa - MID
Sebastian Grazzini - MID
Orr Barouch - FWD
Patrick Nyarko - FWD
Dominic Oduro - FWD
Join me for some frothy instant analysis after the break.
This is the best possible protection list the Fire could have put forward. They protect all the key starters going forward and their top young field playing prospect. I honestly don't see how any one can argue with this list.
Now onto the players who weren't protected.
Jon Conway - GK
Alec Dufty - GK
Yamith Cuesta -DEF
Dan Gargan - DEF
Steven Kinney - DEF
Josip Mikulic - DEF
Pari Pantazopoulos - DEF
Mike Banner - MID
Michael Videira - MID
Daniel Paladini - MID
Baggio Husidic - MID
Cristian Nazarit - FWD
Gabriel Ferrari - FWD
Diego Chaves - FWD
There is this list. It is less full of goodness and considerably more revealing as to why the Fire didn't make the playoffs this past season. Just not enough talent here. So which one of these players could be a target for Montreal?
Maybe Diego Chaves. He is young enough, cheap, and did score a handful of goals this year. Yet he will cost an international slot and I just don't see Montreal wanting to part with that. Same goes for Nazarit except for the cheap part. I guess Husidic and Videira could be on their radar if slow, not very good central midfielders are on their wish list. More likely they are looking at the following three players: Josip Mikulic, Daniel Paladini and Dan Gargan. Clearly the three best players that the Fire did not protect.
Mikulic is an interesting option for Montreal. If they aren't scared off by his injury plagued first MLS campaign they may pull the trigger. He could start for them right away or add solid depth at a key position for an MLS expansion team. Biggest negatives for Montreal is that he would take an international slot and his injury history. I don't have any knowledge of his current contract situation but that would also be a factor if he has not signed a deal for the 2012 season. While I think he merits consideration I don't think the Impact will use an international slot on someone who isn't a sure thing to start all season. Odds: 10/1
Gargan might be a better option than Mikulic. Domestic slot, can play multiple positions on the backline, inexpensive and brings a load of MLS experience with him. Negatives: He had a rather up and down 2011 campaign. His time at TFC was deemed less than impressive as he was part of the many, many deals TFC made during the season. His time with Chicago was better as he proved to be a solid RB during the late season surge. Still is that enough games to base this selection on? Also aren't there better, younger, RB's available in this very expansion draft? Former Fire RB Tim Ward is available. An MLS journeyman at 24 is a bit more enticing than an MLS journeyman at 29. Gargan might be over valued by Fire observers at this point. Just don't see Montreal wanting to take him. Odds: 8/1
If I was drafting for Montreal and was forced to take a player from the Fire I would grab Daniel Paladini. Tenacious midfielder who is relatively inexpensive, domestic, coming off a rather injury free 2011, and is entering the prime of his athletic career. He can start in MLS if needed and would be an excellent option to bring off the bench. In other words a guy you can dress every week. I don't see a ton of downside with a selection of Paladini from Montreal's perspective. He can help out right away but is young enough to contribute for 2-3 seasons. Odds: 3/1
Of course this all takes into account that a player from the Fire is going to get selected. Only 10 players are selected and each team can only lose 1 player. After a quick glance through the players available I'm starting to think Montreal may decide to not draft a Fire player. Can't say that I blame them all that much. Why would you want to grab from one of the weaker teams in the league when you don't have to?
Expansion draft is Wednesday. We will be back then with the fallout (if any) from the Fire perspective.
Gregg can be reached on twitter at @merwin_6