Four weeks until the trade deadline, the All-Star break is over and NHL teams return to business for the long and exhausting stretch of the season where teams will fight for a playoffs’ spot, joust for position and/or players will be playing for a job next season. You will have buyers, you will have sellers, and you will have a bunch of teams sitting on the fence waiting for the right deal to come about. And that’s where you’ll find Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin, working the phone, hoping to continue the great work he’s been doing since last summer.
As it stands today, you have six teams out of the playoffs’ race in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Detroit, Florida and the Rangers who are all expected be sellers. In the West, only Los Angeles and Chicago seem to be out of luck as it will take fewer points to make the playoffs in that conference, making for more teams being in a battle to get into the playoffs.
In the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning are in a league of their own and it would be wise for them not to tinker too much with a roster that’s clicking in all cylinders. But if you’re a playoffs’ team in the East, you will certainly be considering loading up as you know that you’ll have to go through the Bolts in order to reach the Stanley Cup finals.
In the West, the race is much tighter, although the Calgary Flames seem to be the top of the crop. However, the Jets, the Predators, the Wild, the Sharks and the Golden Knights all feel like they have a shot at reaching the finals and for that reason, all of those teams can be expected to be buyers.
Salary Cap Crunch
We all know that we live in a salary cap era and that teams cannot exceed the cap of $79.5 million set by the league. What’s not as well known by fans is the fact that teams cannot carry more than 50 professional contracts at any given time. As it stands today, 12 teams have a projected cap space of less than $3 million.
|TEAMS||CONTRACTS||PROJECTED CAP SPACE|
|*Los Angeles Kings||46/50||$972,701|
|San Jose Sharks||45/50||$1,454,274|
|St. Louis Blues||46/50||$1,547,408|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||49/50||$1,710,387|
|*New York Rangers||46/50||$1,822,046|
*Teams not in the playoffs or in a playoffs’ race.
While not all of those teams have to make trades, those who want to will likely also want to – or need to – shed salary in order to make it happen. And that’s where it’s getting interesting…
In come the Habs
Earlier today, the Canadiens placed defenseman Michal Moravcik on waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract to allow him to return to the Czech Republic. With this move, Marc Bergevin has his team in a perfect position to wheel and deal if the right offer comes about.
In addition to having only 43 contracts, the Canadiens have a projected $9.7 million of cap space so not only can they take money, but they can take contracts too. This has Bergevin in an ideal position to make trades like the one he consumed with the Winnipeg Jets when he received Joel Armia as a reward for taking on Steve Mason‘s contract. Keep an eye on Bergevin as this flexibility is what teams will be looking for when having to shed salary and/or contracts. Few teams are in as good of a position and that’s what makes me believe that we will see some shuffle in Montreal by February 25th at the latest. We’ve already touched on a potential deal with the Oilers, but so many more teams might be tempted to turn to Bergevin for help… so keep your fingers’ crossed Habs’ fans. Exciting times ahead. Go Habs Go!