Apparently, Martin McGuire claims that the Canadiens and Flyers are deep in trade talks regarding Shayne Gostisbehere but would this be a suitable solution for the Habs? I mean, this issues at left defense are not new, we've been going on about them for the best part of 3 seasons now but what do the Canadiens actually need? They need a first rate left handed shot defenseman to play alongside Shea Weber. Could Gostibehere be that guy? Let's have a quick look at his stats:
There's no doubt that the man has had some great statistical seasons points wise but he's also had some ok ones and seems on course for nothing more than another OK one this season. In fact, looking at his stats, in 6 years it looks like "Ghost" has taken the Flyers fans on a bit of a roller coaster ride. He burst into the scene as the blue line saviour for Philadelphia in his rookie season raking up 46 points in 64 games but since then, it's not all been great for the 26 year old. In fact, he's now on the Flyers' third pairing (when he's not scratched) behind both Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim and he's signed to a 4.5 M cap hit contract through to the end of season 2022-2023.
If the good version of this Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde act was to show up in Montreal, he could no doubt contribute offensively and help launch the attack from the blue line but even the peak Gostisbehere has got some defensive issues. In fact, the reduced ice time and the pairing demotion all come not from offensive struggles but from issues doing what should be a blueliner's first job; playing defense. What is it that the Habs actually need? Help on the attack or in their own zone? For once this season, the Canadiens do not struggle scoring goals they're 8th in league scoring with 91 goals in 28 games. Uncharacteristically, they are 29th in goals against, having allowed 97 goals and that stat really hurts considering that they do rely on a top flight goaltender. Furthermore, Shea Weber is actually on pace for a season of 26 goals and 67 points both of which would be career high.
Perhaps Marc Bergevin is now considering this option because talks over in Russia with Alexander Romanov didn't go as planned? Apparently Romanov refuses to commit to coming over next season but can you blame him? At the start of the season, CSKA Moscow gave him some tough love and played him less than normally in what looked like an attempt to make him realize that they were his team and his focus should be solely on them. Considering he's still under contract with this KHL outfit, it would surely not be appreciated if he came out and said "Yes, as soon as this season is over, I'm going over to Montreal and I cannot wait to be done with this KHL nonsense". Whether we like it or not, it seems pretty logical to me that he won't say right now that he'll be coming over next season. The fact is though, he was here this summer during development camp. No, he didn't get on the ice, he couldn't do that because he was under contract with CSKA but he was there and he sure looked happy to be there.
In my view, now is not the time to panic. We've held on with no bona fide 1st LHD for the best part of 3 years, what's another 2/3 of a season? Especially since the other option is to trade assets/prospects/picks or who knows what for Gostisbehere who's himself in a bit of a funk right now. Of course, the depth chart on the left is still not that deep (although Leskinen, Norlinder and Struble come to mind amongst others) so perhaps both Romanov and Gostisbehere could be a fit on the same team but Ghost's price tag likely means being unable to re-sign one of our impact forwards when the time comes. It will be Domi's turn this summer and then Gallagher, Danault, Tatar, Kotkaniemi and even Armia's one the summer after that, are you willing to gamble that on Gostisbehre?
It's easy enough to identify an issue with a hockey team but it's a whole other ballgame to actually fix it...at the risk of sounding like Marc Bergevin; trades are hard. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this rumour, but personally, I don't see this trade happening. What do you think?