Habs Deadline Early Moves

TradeMine

At the time of writing these lines, there are still three hours left to the NHL’s 2017 Trade Deadline and one trade has been announced (Vanek to Florida). Unless you were born yesterday, you are not surprised by the lack of action. Actually, there is a lot of action… behind the scene. General Managers are jousting, negotiating, trying to get the best deal possible on this crucial day. 

Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin is said to be one of the busiest ones out there. He has addressed some depth already but what he is looking for is a bit more difficult to get on a day when the prices are often at their highest. The Canadiens would ideally like to get a Top-4 left-handed puck moving defenseman to play alongside Shea Weber. They would also like to add size up front, preferably with skills and goals’ scoring abilities. Easier said than done, isn’t it?

Many seem to dream of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog or Claude Giroux, but big deals like that are usually not trade deadline deals. Why? For two main reasons: 1- Teams trading those assets would get much more in the summer months, when every team has the cap space to do something big and are working on addressing their needs. 2- Contending teams would have to give too much in return, which would ultimately affect the result, the core and would be too big of a gamble.

But let’s look at what we know happened, the recent players that Marc Bergevin has completed.

nesterov

The Canadiens gave up a guy who is a long shot to make the NHL and a late pick for an inconsistent, but young, fast and with good offensive upside and he’s known to be aggressive. Habs have the better player in that trade.

benn

Pateryn, unfortunately, was on his way out after his wife lost her cool against a few fans on Twitter, not a smart move in a place like Montreal. The Canadiens added a mid-round pick and landed a veteran, stay at home defenseman. He has good size and brings stability, particularly to the penalty kill, an area of trouble for the Habs this season. He is only 29 years old, so has some good hockey left in him, and does not shy away from physical contact.

davidson

Desharnais, in the final year of his contract, had a cap hit of $3.5 million and was a healthy scratch more often than not lately. In 2012, Davidson was diagnosed with testicular cancer and after a first good season in the NHL last year, he struggled a bit this season. Good size, good mobility, good shot, little sample at the NHL level. Habs keep $700,000 of Desharnais’ salary, Davidson’s cap hit is $1.425 million which means that the Canadiens are saving $2.1 million of cap space in the deal.

ott

Ott gets by on hard work and determination. He excels at throwing opponents off their game, kills penalties, takes face-offs (58% this season) and lines up at all three forward positions. He averages 2.4 hits per game, which will make him one of the Canadiens’ most physical forwards. Not a key pick, but a low cost, and will add much needed sand paper to a team that needs it.

According to Pierre LeBrun, Bergevin wants to add size to his line-up. If you look at those trades, few were in the rumours as the Canadiens’ GM keeps his cards close to his chest. We can expect much of the same. I would keep an eye on guys like B. Schenn (PHI), R. O’Reilly (BUF), A. Barkov (FLO), P. Statsny (STL), J. Spezza (DAL), J. Staal (CAR), B. Little (WIN)… Fun times ahead Habs’ fans!

 

Habs Get a Much Needed Boost

galchenyukshaw

The Montreal Canadiens have announced that both Alex Galchenyuk and Andrew Shaw will be returning to the line-up on time for tonight’s match-up against the New York Rangers. If that’s not a good news for Habs’ fans, players, coaching staff and management, I don’t know what is.

Galchenyuk, who suffered a knee injury back on December 4th in Los Angeles, has missed the last 18 games. At the time, he was leading the Canadiens in scoring with 23 points in 25 games played and while Phillip Danault has done a great job filling in with 12 points in 18 games, the 22 year old Galchenyuk adds to an already potent Canadiens’ offence.

“I feel like it’s my first game of the season!” ~ Alex Galchenyuk, visibly excited to come back in the line-up.

Shaw was playing his best hockey since joining the Canadiens with a production of 12 points in his last 15 games played, suffered a concussion on a questionable hit to the head from Boston Bruins’ defenseman Torrey Krug back on December 12th. He has missed the team’s last 14 games.

In the absence of Brendan Gallagher, who had surgery to repair a broken hand after suffering the effects of a shot from the point from teammate Shea Weber, Shaw will add some quality depth and grit to the line-up.

The team looked flat and out of juice against the Minnesota Wild and this news of two key players coming back to the line-up will serve as a shot in the arm on a Habs’ team that really could use something positive to happen and that, in spite of keeping an excellent record throughout the injuries.

The lines at the morning skate were as follows:

Pacioretty – Galchenyuk – Radulov
Lehkonen – Plekanec – Andrighetto
Byron – Danault – Shaw
Flynn – Mitchell – McCarron

The team announced that Andrei Markov, suffering from what is believed a groin injury, is not skating, having suffered a set back as he was skating not long ago. David Desharnais is skating while Greg Pateryn is still recuperating from a broken foot. Gallagher had surgery on the knuckle of his left ring finger, one of the two damaged in 2015. More pins had to be inserted to augment the original surgery.

One thing is for sure though, the games are bringing a lot more interest for Habs’ fans with a bit healthier team. What this team has accomplished in the absence of such key components is nothing short of amazing and teams around the league have noticed. The Canadiens currently sit in fourth place overall, four points from the Columbus Blue Jackets who occupy first place and three points from the Washington Capitals in second place. Both those teams have been amongst the healthiest in the NHL so far this season.