The Canadiens played their last game on Saturday night, winning a 4th game in their last 5 and while they went on holiday on a high mood wise, that didn't really get them any closer to making the playoffs. Worst still, since then, other teams have been playing some of their game in hands on the Habs and right now, Montreal is 9 points away from the 2nd wildcard spot and 10 points out of the 3rd place in the Atlantic. For anybody looking at this rationally, making the playoffs now seems near impossible but what about Marc Bergevin? Has he seen the light yet?
The trade deadline is fast approaching and normally the Canadiens' GM is not all that active. He's been known to try to add depth and grit at the deadline. Remember how happy you were when we finally acquired Dwight King, Andreas Martinsen and Steve Ott at the 2017 deadline? Or how about Jordan Weal at the deadline last season? I know, we did get Danault at the 2016 one, Petry in 2015 and Vanek in 2014 but in the last few years, trade deadline day has hardly been exciting for the Habs faithful... Will this year's be different? Well, it could be...
As things stand, no one should expect the Canadiens to be buyers but they could very well be sellers if Bergevin finally admits to both himself and his boss that he fell short of his playoffs goal once again this season. So, who should go and who should stay? I think I've already been rather clear about the fact that Kovalchuk should be traded for an asset but he's not the only one who could be on his way out.
Now, there are plenty of rumours flying around, names being thrown out there as reportedly on the move and while they do say there's no smoke without fire, we all know that's not always the case in the hockey world. Two of the names that are making the rounds on social media are those of Drouin and Domi...Now, let me be clear, whatever this is be it a rebuild a reset or a retooling, to me, these guys are part of it. Drouin is signed for 3 more years and he's only 24, he's not reached his prime yet but it will come. I believe his play this season has been a breath of fresh air and he truly looked like he wants to improve and play a more complete game. As for Domi, he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and after a career best 72 points last year, he's now on pace for a 55 points tally and it seems like his contractual demands won't be as high as expected. While he might have been looking for a long term deal last season, he might just have played his way to a bridge deal this year and as he's also 24, I really do want him to stick around. The man is a little ball of energy and plays with an edge that I really like and that this team can use most of the time.
As for who could be on their way out well, I'm afraid Tomas Tatar might be a prime candidate to pack his bags. While he is still signed for another season, trading him now would allow Bergevin to maximize his value. At 29 though, he's far from old and he has sure performed since he landed in Montreal. There's no doubt that he could potentially help a contending team but if it's up to me, I hang on to him, you need vets around your kids and I feel that's one more job Tatar can do.
Jeff Petry is also a name that's being brought up more and more often but can we really afford to trade him? He's signed through the end of next season and it's also worth notting that he's got a modified no trade clause. He can give a list of 15 teams he cannot be traded to. If you trade Petry though, who's your second right handed d-man next year? Victor Mete who's playing right on his off side now? Cale Fleury who Julien has scratched for the last couple of games? Josh Brook who's meant to be developing in Laval right now but has played a few games as a 4th line winger? The fact that the answer is not obvious tells you all you need to know...the future may be bright but the future is not ready just yet... If I'm MB, I hang on to Petry.
As for Weber and Price, the GM reportedly told Pierre Lebrun that he's not even willing to listen to offers on those two. To those who say that he said the same about Subban well, he didn't... He said he wasn't "shopping" him as in offering him to other teams, he never said he wouldn't entertain offer. Apparently, Bergevin thinks that Price and Weber are the leaders he needs to support his young core and they are here to stay. Can't really say that this is overly surprising especially with the contract they both have, not every team could afford them.
So, what's left then? Well, I'd like to see him move out some depth players that if kept around will just take away ice time from the youngsters. Do we really need Weal and Cousins? Can we afford to spare Thompson? Could someone be interested in the often injured Byron? Those are the names I'd like to see moved. That being said, I'm fully aware that Claude Julien has got a big man crush on them so I will not be holding my breath there... Besides, it takes 2 to tango and I'm not sure that the Canadiens would have many suitors for those names. Weal is signed for another full year at 1.4 M, Cousins will be a RFA at the end of this season and Byron is committed for another 3 full season at 3.4 M...Needless to say, he may be a very hard sell.
Hopefully, the Habs have the good sense of not trading for more depth and grit yet again...it's time to let the kids play and live and die with their accomplishments and mistakes.