Recent Trades: The Proof is in The Pudding

As a NHL General Manager, sometimes you complete trades that work out for your team, sometimes they don’t. In all cases, the price paid to acquired those new acquisitions is key to determine if it was a good trade or if it wasn’t, how much you’ve lost in the deal. No, that doesn’t apply only to Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens as every team in the league goes through those assessments and every GM has good deals and not so good ones.

We’ve discussed how disappointing it was to see Bergevin fail to address the team’s biggest needs so let’s not rehash on that. But it’s not like he didn’t complete any deals. He did revamp his bottom-six and added a depth defenseman and those deals seem to be paying off… for the time being.

Here are the trades completed by the Canadiens’ GM leading up to the February 25th trade deadline:

As you can see, Bergevin traded three players who had been sent to the Laval Rockets in the AHL and has added four players to his NHL roster. For the sake of this exercise, we won’t get into what the players shipped out are doing with their new team as that’s not the purpose. The goal is to see if Bergevin has improved his team with the players used by head coach Claude Julien over the players he decided to sit in the pressbox. So here’s the breakdown:

NAMEGPGAPts+/-2019-2020 CONTRACT
Jordan Weal11246+2UFA
Nate Thompson210660UFA
Dale Weise9000-21 year – $2.35M
Christian Folin14044+11UFA
Matthew Peca383710-131 year – $1.3M
Charles Hudon32325-9RFA
Nicolas Deslauriers45213-101 year – $950,000
Mike Reilly573811+16RFA

As we can see, it looks like the trades have panned out so far. Further, Weal (56.4%) and Thompson (55.5%) have helped take some pressure off Phillip Danault (54.7%) in the faceoffs’ circles, particularly in the defensive zone. All things considered, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bergevin offer contracts to both Weal and Thompson for sure, perhaps even Folin by season’s end.

In order to do that, the team will have to unload some of the NHL contracts for next season, unless Geoff Molson want to have the biggest payroll in the AHL, which already includes Karl Alzner. And Bergevin hasn’t addressed the team’s biggest needs for a left-handed Top-4 defenseman and some help for the powerplay. It will be a busy summer for Canadiens’ GM but then again… when hasn’t he been busy since taking over? Go Habs Go!

5 Big Market Teams Will Be Aggressive

Reset, retool, rebuild, reload… all terms used by NHL General Managers to qualify the state of the franchise that they manage when their team is going through some fairly major changes with their on-ice product. Each one has a slightly different connotation but in all cases, you’re looking at some sort of revamp, whether it is to trade a few veterans for quality youth, completely gut the team and start over or something in between. All of those options come with some growing pains, some dry bread seasons before, hopefully, return to being a Stanley Cup contender.

This upcoming off-season is not going to be any different from any other one but there are five teams in particular that fans and media members should keep a close eye on. Five teams that can afford to spend to the Salary Cap ceiling and usually do so, but they are nowhere close as they are going through some sort of metamorphose. Those teams promise to be big players, throwing big dollars at the top pending UFAs… or even some RFAs.

5- MONTREAL CANADIENS

Projected Cap Hit$63,380,476
Projected Cap Space$16,119,524

This is the second consecutive year that the Canadiens will be trying to make a splash on July 1st. This past summer, they were planning on offering big dollars to John Tavares until he decided that he wasn’t even going to listen to what they had to say. This summer, the number of quality UFAs is much greater and Marc Bergevin is planning on being heard from by the likes of Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene, amongst others.

4- NEW YORK RANGERS

Projected Cap Hit$61,963,609
Projected Cap Space$17,536,391

Like that’s any news, right? The New York Rangers are always a force to recon with on the UFA market as more players want to play in New York than anywhere else in the league… or so it seems. This time however, they have the cap space and just like Montreal, the Rangers are ready to throw fist-full of money to some of the key pending UFAs. Don’t count out the possibility of Jeff Gorton signing a quality RFA to an offer sheet either and something tells me that the Toronto Maple Leafs better look over their shoulder for Mitch Marner

3- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Projected Cap Hit$59,830,128
Projected Cap Space$19,669,872

It seems like not so long ago, the Blackhawks were strapped against the cap but it doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Still, their core of players making most of the money is aging and their production, particularly on defense, is starting to diminish. Whether they decide to trade some of them away or not, the Hawks have plenty of cap space to add to an already pretty potent lineup and if I’m Erik Karlsson, Tyler Myers or Jake Gardiner, I’m expecting a phone call from Stan Bowman.

2- VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Projected Cap Hit$51,439,165
Projected Cap Space$28,060,835

The Canucks have been hard to read for a few years now. They’re not going through a complete rebuild, but they’re going younger while adding puzzling veteran elements, sometimes overpaying based on the market. The likes of Loui Eriksson ($6M), Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle ($3M each) are examples of that but even then, the Canucks have tons of cap space. There seemed to be a disconnect when team owner Francesco Aquilini fired President and long term Canucks Trevor Linden citing a philosophical difference. Linden wanted to continue building through the draft while Aquilini wants to put bums in the seats by being competitive. Expect GM Jim Benning to receive clear orders to get at least one prominent player through free agency this summer.

1- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Projected Cap Hit$46,842,499
Projected Cap Space$32,657,501

Last but not least, keep a very close eye on the Flyers. They have shown in the past that they’re not afraid to throw offers to RFAs (Ryan Kesler and Shea Weber are two) and they will be aggressive on the free agents’ market. It’s not the willingness of spending money that’s lacking and team President Paul Holmgren will receive free reign to spend from majority owner Ed Snider who, like Aquilini in Vancouver, can’t stand the long rebuild through the draft, prompting the dismissal of Ron Hextall. Chuck Fletcher is an experienced GM with pocket loads of money and there is no doubt that they will be one of the most aggressive teams on the market this summer.

KEY PENDING UFAs

Here is a list of the pending Unrestricted Free Agents for the summer of 2019. Some will re-sign with their respective teams but the number of quality UFAs is high this year in comparison to the last couple of summers. I have separated them in groups, forwards (by points), defensemen (by ice time) and goaltenders (by wins).

Which ones would you like to see with the Canadiens, or who do you believe would accept to play under the scrutiny of the Montreal market? From looking at these lists, I personally think that there are a few forwards that could help while the elusive Top-4 defenseman might have to be acquired through trade. Go Habs Go!

Data from CapFriendly.com. * Jimmy Howard signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings today