MONTREAL -- With big dollars and extended contract years being doled out like they're going out of style to unrestricted free agents since July 1, Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey refuses to get caught up in all of the hype.
"It's all about getting the right player," said Gainey, after making an appearance at Martin Lapointe Arena on Day 3 of the Canadiens' Development Camp on Tuesday . "We have the money to spend. If we spend it well, we'll have value for it and our fans will value for it. If we spend it poorly, then we're both going to suffer."
Now almost two weeks into the free agent frenzy, the Canadiens GM continues to stick to his guns.
"We came into this with a plan and the list of players that have interested us is a short one," explained Gainey. "Free agency is exactly that. Players are free to choose where they want to go. If you look at the big picture, there are more players that didn't fit into our plans than those for whom we didn't fit into theirs."
As he has from the get-go, Gainey made no secret what type of player remains at the top of his wish list.
"Our target continues to be a forward," reaffirmed Gainey. "There are players still out there that could fill that hole for us."
The bigger-name unrestricted free agents still hunting for new NHL addresses include: Petr Sykora, Sergei Samsonov, Anson Carter and Michael Peca. While the Canadiens remain on the lookout for some help up front, Gainey made it clear that he intends to set aside room to build from within come training camp.
"We plan to leave at least one spot open for a young player," he said. "That way when we open training camp, our young players know there is a legitimate spot available on our team, and I believe we have the young players able to fill that spot."
Among the many contenders for that coveted Canadiens dressing room stall will be the likes of Andrei Kostitsyn, who only saw part-time duty last season, as well as Canadian Junior team captain Kyle Chipchura and 2005 training camp sensation Guillaume Latendresse.
With plenty of time to go before the puck drops to start the 2006-07 season, Gainey refuses push the panic button or dip into the free agent pool for the wrong reasons.
"This was never about just signing a player for the sake of doing so. I know I can hurry back to my office right now, place a phone call and have someone signed by this afternoon, but it wouldn't be the player that I want," admitted Gainey, before turning his attention to an unsuspecting journalist. "I'm sure you would like to get married, but you want it be with the right person, right?"
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.