This is the first of a series of personnel management analyses targeting what the Montreal Impact should prioritize over the winter months in preparation for the 2016 season. Check in for an update every day organized by position.
There was an almost complete overhaul last off-season in Montreal after the team finished dead last in 2014. They were even denied the right to select Canadian Cyle Larin first overall in the SuperDraft due to the expansion of Orlando City and NYCFC.
But a dispersal draft, a waiver draft, a few trades, and a lot of attention to the international transfer market later, the Montreal Impact came back to the 2015 season with a quasi-legendary run through Champions League, a first-round playoff win over Toronto FC, and an exciting playoff aggregate loss to Columbus shortly thereafter.
This off-season does not have the same vibe to it, as there is no "bad taste" left in the mouths of Impact fans. That being said, there are a few roster management issues on the table for the team to deal with compounded with loftier expectations from IMFC faithful.
It's usually tough to analyze an MLS team's contract/roster situation because information regarding contract structure and length almost always remain undisclosed by the league. Nonetheless, here's how the offices at the corner of Viau and Sherbrooke might be occupied this winter:
Current Depth Chart:
1- Evan Bush
2- Eric Kronberg
3- Maxime Crépeau
If you think the Impact have issues in goal then you haven't watched a single game this season. Evan Bush has established himself as a starting keeper in MLS, and arguably as one of the better ones. More games than not Bush has made a stop that another MLS-caliber goalkeeper may not have. Although these circus-saves may seem few and far between to casual soccer fans, these minute discrepancies between him and his peers make for huge statistical differences. Not to mention almost never letting in a "bad" goal means never being the cause for the deflation of his team.
IMFC's biggest issue in nets is Eric Kronberg's salary. Kronberg's cap hit is $132,000 and although this isn't a monstrous salary to fit under the cap, it may not be wise cap management to have a seldom-used backup making that much. Kronberg may be sacrificed over the off-season and replaced by Maxime Crépeau ($60,000 cap hit) and/or another goalkeeper of similar value. However, if the Impact continue to employ a system in which the road to CONCACAF is exclusively the right of the backup keeper, then it's uncertain whether or not Crépeau is ready for such a stage. Can Evan Bush work overtime?
Recommendation: Attempt to sever ties with Kronberg (either through trade or non-renewal of contract or contract termination or loan) and acquire a goalkeeper who can come at a cap hit closer to Crépeau's. Then hope that Bush can stay healthy and fit through both the MLS regular season and CONCACAF qualifying (Voyageurs Cup).
Check back into MountRoyalSoccer.com tomorrow for an analysis of the Impact's needs/wants at the centre-back position over the off-season and every day after that for the full-backs, the holding midfielders, the attacking midfielders, the wingers, and the forwards.