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 a defense partner to play big minutes alongside veteran Shea Weber.
We have recently covered a few options in a recent article, 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: The Ducks have depth on the blue line with guys like Josh Manson, Brandon Montour and Hampus Lindholm, which means that they might consider trading in a position of strength. Their playoffs’ performances have been rather stagnant and the window is slowly closing in on them with a core of veterans like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry amongst others. Fowler has been in the rumour mill on a regular basis for the past couple of years with Montreal being in the middle of them, and this might be the time they decide to make a significant move. He did however sign an extension with the Ducks until 2024-25 at a cap hit of $6.5 million with a limited NTC…
COST: Fowler wouldn’t come cheap, but he’ll never be mistaken for a Norris Trophy candidate (although some are that shouldn’t be, but that’s a different topic). It would take a young NHL player (Galchenyuk-type) and a high quality prospect/pick to get him though.
JUSTIFICATION: The Flames’ deepest position is on defense and after the acquisition of Travis Hamonic from the New York Islanders, many experts compared them to the Nashville Predators at that position. Unfortunately for them, the results haven’t been conclusive and management is looking for answers, trying to shake things up a bit. 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?
COST: Of course, the 3rd overall would be an overpayment for Brodie and something else would have to be added to make this happen. What doesn’t play in the Flames’ favour is the fact that they don’t have a first round pick to trade so perhaps, they would have to get a third team into the talks in order for the Canadiens to be able to pick in the Top-10 on June 22nd.
JUSTIFICATION: Is there someone who has been talked about in rumours more than this guy in the past couple of years? It’s hard to understand why but he is a solid top-4 defenseman but with one year left to his contract at $5.5M cap hit before becoming a UFA, the Avalanche could decide to move him this summer. If that’s the case, Bergevin will be there, rest assured. But do the Canadiens have the assets needed to make it happen?
COST: The Avalanche would likely want some young help on the wing and the Habs have a few NHL ready forwards at that position. They already took a flyer on Sven Andrighetto so they might very well be tempted with the likes of Nikita Scherbak and/or Mike McCarron in a package deal…
JUSTIFICATION: There are a lot of talks about the disappointing season by the Canadiens but what about the Oilers? With all the fire power they have, the rumours are going strong and Klefbom’s name comes up regularly. Like Jeff Petry back then, Klefbom is being utilized as a number one defenseman and that’s just not his role. He is however very capable to supply good quality minutes as he has proven and would be a good partner for Weber.
COST: He wouldn’t come cheap and a young NHL ready prospect, perhaps a speedy winger, would likely be targeted by Peter Chiarelli, and Montreal’s second round picks could very well come into play.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
JUSTIFICATION: As we touched in a recent article, the Kings have the most money tied up for next season and they could be attempting to get some cap relief as there is only one year left to star defenseman’s Drew Doughty’s contract. Both players have a cap hit of $4 million with Muzzin having two years left to his, while Martinec has one more year than Muzzin to his contract.
COST: While facing the Golden Knights in the playoffs, the Kings realized that they need to add speed to their line-up. As for the Oilers for Klefbom, could a young NHL ready speedster and throwing in one of the second round picks be enough? I would think so.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
JUSTIFICATION: Could you imagine if that happened? Drafted by the Canadiens and involved in one of the team’s worst trades ever, getting McDonagh back would go a long ways in fixing the mistake. He has lost some value in recent years but he is still a very good top-4 defenseman who could look great paired with Weber. The Lighting have a lot of money tied up in cap space and they are deep on defense. We have seen that the two GM’s aren’t afraid to pull trades within their division either.
COST: The defenceman was traded to Tampa Bay along with forward J.T. Miller, sending Vladislav Namestnikov, a 2018 first-round pick, a conditional second-round pick in 2019, defensive prospect Libor Hajek forward prospect Brett Howden the other way. It’s a hefty price to pay so Galchenyuk or Pacioretty might have to be included in that deal to make it work, although McDonagh only has one year left to his contract, with a cap hit of $4.7 million.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
JUSTIFICATION: One bad game (okay, a terrible game) where he finished with minus – 5 rating in a key matchup, and rumours that he has played his last game in Toronto are not going away. Yes, the fanbase is bad in Montreal but it’s not much better in TO as Gardiner could easily become the Patrice Brisebois for Leafs’ fans.
COST: He’s a good defenseman, but he’s no all-star. But does new GM Kyle Dubas know that, and would Gardiner be the first trade he makes in replacement for Lou Lamoriello? It definitely would be gutsy. An established winger or a veteran defenseman might be what coach Babcock would be hoping for in his line-up, but Gardiner alone won’t give the Leafs what they truly need: a number one defenseman.
JUSTIFICATION: Edler is a veteran on a rather young team and now that the Sedin twis have retired, the Canucks are going younger. With one year left at $5 million cap hit before becoming a UFA, Jim Benning would definitely listen to offers.
COST: The Canucks are rather thin on the blue line so a younger defenseman would be a target. But as they are deeper at the centre position, perhaps some young forward would entice them as well.
JUSTIFICATION: One word: Depth. Also, the Jets need to re-sign Jacob Trouba this summer, then Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler are scheduled to become UFA’s the following summer. The question mark is not only the drop in productivity in his case, but a bad back as he decided to forgo surgery last March. He has two years left to his contract which carries a $4.33 million cap hit.
COST: Because of the back issues, one would think that he wouldn’t cost too much. Prospect(s), pick(s), a mix of both? If healthy, he’s a very serviceable defenseman.
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!