I was accused, on Twitter after the NHL Draft Lottery, of starting rumours. I explained that there were no rumours and the person in question sarcastically asked me if I worked for the Habs. First, let’s make one thing clear: I don’t like rumours. I don’t start rumours. While I did some volunteer work for the Canadiens many years ago for their fan forum, I do not work for them nor do I have any connections with the team. I am a fan, one who has been following them for almost five decades.
Also, people need to understand and differentiate between a rumour and a speculation, a discussion based on ideas, sequence of events, logic and/or wishful thinking. Rumours are started by journalists or rumouroids, people who have something to gain (readership and popularity). I chose not to go that way. But as a fan, I look at the past and make my own conclusions about what, in my mind, makes sense.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the facts. The Oilers and the Canadiens have been heavy discussion for quite some time. They have had scouts at each others’ games for most of the season, all the way to the trade deadline. When they pulled the deal sending Zack Kassian to Edmonton for Ben Scrivens, experts all agreed that the deal was supposed to be much bigger. They had information that we don’t have. Those experts also said that the two teams were discussing hard prior to the trade deadline, and that’s when the rumours about P.K. Subban surfaced remember.
When interviewed on CBC yesterday, Brian Burke said that 10 minutes after the lottery, GMs would start discussing trades. Why? Other GMs chimed in saying that nobody wanted to complete a trade if it could become a top-three pick! No rumours folks, that’s actually the truth straight from the horses’ mouths.
Peter Chiarelli and Marc Bergevin were together in Toronto for this over-stretched event (let’s call it what it is). You can bet that if they haven’t talked deal there, they likely have agreed to talk soon, now that both teams know where they will be picking. With the Oilers dropping two spots to fourth overall, you can bet that this pick has now become in play as they would like to land a defenseman who could have an immediate impact on their club.
Habs wanting to move up, Oilers to move down
It is a fact and not rumours that the Canadiens’ brass has been scouting hard after their elimination. It has been heavily reported that they have been following the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and most particularly Pierre-Luc Dubois, an outstanding prospect who has raised his stocks to the point of being expected to be selected between fourth to sixth overall at the draft.
Pundits have always stated that the Habs should pick the best talent regardless of his origin, particularly if he’s from Quebec. All agree that at equal talent, then they could go for a local product. There is, however, no denying that because of the market they are in, the Canadiens must look at the talent in their own backyard. Well according to experts in the matter, you have a local product projected to be good enough for being a top pick for any NHL team. That’s where Bergevin enters.
After the lottery, experts discussed the possibility of the Oilers entertaining to move down in the draft in order to facilitate a trade for a defenseman. This doesn’t mean that it would be with the Canadiens, but they seem to be in a pretty good position and have the right motivation to want the Oilers’ spot in this upcoming draft.
Names being thrown around
The site Dans les Coulisses (DLC), known as rumouroids, and others have thrown the possibility of having the two teams exchanging spots at the draft, and that it would cost the Canadiens young defenseman Nathan Beaulieu. The Habs would then pick Dubois at number four. While I would rather keep Beaulieu who I feel could take some of Andrei Markov‘s ice time when he retires, this makes some sense, particularly due to the emergence of Mark Barberio last year. Personally though, I think that this could be plan B for Bergevin and the Habs.
Speculating here, but I feel like Marc Bergevin is ready to take some risks and none would be bigger than trading Subban. While he is not actively shopping his all-star defenseman, there is no doubt that the Canadiens’ GM is taking calls and gauging the market for him before July first, when his no-movement clause kicks in.
I suggested the following: Oilers get Subban, Lars Eller and the ninth pick and in return, the Canadiens get Taylor Hall, Darnell Nurse (or Oscar Klefbom), Nail Yakupov and the fourth pick (Dubois). Something like this would be plan A in my opinion.
Yes, the loss of Subban would hurt on defense, particularly offensively. But they would more than gain it back (offensively) up front. Defensively, a guy like Nurse would help cover the defensive minutes of Subban, who you cannot fully replaced, I agree.
Bergevin would still have money for one or two UFAs with offensive upside, particularly from the list we have discussed recently. Ultimately, Bergevin will and should only consider trading Subban if it makes his team better at the end and while the jury is out depending on how you see Subban, this is one that should or would be considered to be a good one for both teams.
The weeks leading to the NHL draft promise to be exciting for Habs’ fans as something tells me that Bergevin will be doing something unpopular at first, but that will bring this team back to the best in the NHL, perhaps as soon as next year.