To say that this is a big summer for Montreal Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin is a bit of an understatement, mostly due to last season’s debacle. There are two glaring needs for the Canadiens coming into the off-season and one of them definitely is finding one, or possible even two centres to play on the top-2 lines.
In a recent article, we explored a few options covering mostly the free agents’ market which opens on July 1st, but let’s direct our focus on teams Bergevin is possibly talking to, or perhaps should be looking towards for help at that position. Here’s how to get on cloud nine, with nine examples, in no particular order:
JUSTIFICATION: They have Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart is ready to take the next step. However, GM Jason Botterill denied that O’Reilly is on the market. But again, GM’s rarely say when a player is being shopped or like we’ve learned in Montreal, there’s a difference between shopping someone or listening to offers. That’s actually a GM’s job.
COST: According to TSN Insider Darren Dregger, the price would be very, very steep, which could take most teams, even a desperate Habs’ team, from getting ROR. What’s the maximum for a guy with a long term $7.5 million cap hit and who has never cracked the 65 points mark? For the Habs, I would venture to say Galchenyuk and a good prospect/pick. More than that, Bergevin will move on to something else.
JUSTIFICATION: Could the Flames be interested in acquiring the 3rd overall pick from the Canadiens, in order to select Brady Tkachuk, whose brother Matthew is a contributing member of their team? That would be the trigger for trade talks.
COST: Of course, one of the two young centres wouldn’t be enough to get the 3rd overall but could the teams make it a bigger deal by seeing T.J. Brodie heading to Montreal? The 3rd overall and perhaps Galchenyuk, something around that? It depends how badly the Flames want Tkachuk I guess.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
JUSTIFICATION: If the Islanders see that Tavares will explore the market of free agency, they might decide to get something in return and give someone the sole opportunity to negotiate on a new contract before other teams. I could see a conditional deal, if the Habs agree to terms with the star centre, sending a package to New York. But why not wait to sign him without giving assets I’m being asked? Because they’re no guarantee that he will pick the Habs. If he agrees to a deal PRIOR to free agency, the risk of other teams is gone and there’s a premium to pay for that.
COST: If they can agree to an extension, it would take quite a bit. It would be great to keep Pacioretty and see him play with a true number one centre but it may not be feasible. Galchenyuk? Mete? Petry? The 3rd pick overall? The Islanders first round pick(s) – they have two? It could be a huge trade…
JUSTIFICATION: Number one, reputable NHL insiders like Elliott Friedman (not the anonymous ones) have indicated that there was a deal being discussed between the Canadiens and the Panthers for Max Pacioretty, Trochek being the player coming to Montreal. They do have depth at centre, but not so much on the wings and that would make sense for both teams. The Habs wouldn’t target Jonathan Huberdeau, would they?
COST: The start of any talks would be surrounding Pacioretty, and go from there. Can they agree which of the two players holds more value? How I would like to be a fly on the wall listening in to those conversation.
JUSTIFICATION: Okay here we go again. The Oilers had a terrible season. They have depth at centre and need speedy wingers. As mentioned before though, I would have believed in it before they experimented successfully with RNH on McDavid’s wing but with the chemistry found, we can pretty much scratch that one off.
COST: Had it had to occur, Pacioretty was the focus of discussions. It would take more today, in my humble opinion.
JUSTIFICATION: The Wild’s constant deception to make it further in the playoffs has triggered trade rumours and Coyle is right in the middle of them. Big, strong centre who can move, extremely versatile, he falls behind Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal in the depth chart, particularly if the Wild wants to re-sign Staal when his contract expires at the end of next year.
COST: It’s very had to gage Coyle’s value, really. Hampered with a wrist injury, I would think that the Wild would want Galchenyuk in return, with spare parts going here or there.
JUSTIFICATION: With the lack of pending UFA’s at the trade deadline, the Penguins went out and got Brassard to add depth at centre for a playoffs’ run. The question insiders are wondering is if the Pens have any intention of retaining him for next season or do they trade him and replace him with someone cheaper and younger. They do have some depth at centre, and rumours are swirling about Brassard’s availability.
COST: On the Pens, Brassard is a third line centre but in Montreal, he would be a 2nd, perhaps even a 1B centre. One would think that a prospect, a pick and/or perhaps an experienced defenseman? The Habs do have several of those…
SAN JOSE SHARKS
JUSTIFICATION: Look at that depth at centre, and that’s not counting if they decide to bring back Joe Thornton for another season! Another disappointing exit in the playoffs might tip GM Doug Wilson to shake things up in San Jose.
COST: The price would vary depending on the player traded for sure, but a first rounder other than 2018 and a young established player might just entice the Sharks enough.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
JUSTIFICATION: The Lightning are very deep at centre. As a matter of fact, they’re deep on defense too. Johnson seems to be the odd man out if we believe the rumours around Tampa Bay and he might just need a change, a new start.
COST: He’s young, rather cheap, and plays a key position at centre. One has to wonder if Steve Yzerman has any incline towards Galchenyuk?
There are likely others, coming out of left field as they say, but the ones mentioned above are linked, in most part, to what we’re hearing around the NHL. Either way, we know that Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens are looking at making some changes… and those might be options. Go Habs Go!