It doesn’t take much these days to get Habs’ fans going. With the Canadiens’ early exit from the playoffs combined with the Nashville Predators making it to the Stanley Cup finals, some fans are very vocal against the organization they say is their favourite. But that’s nothing new, as many in the fan base don’t remember 1993, the last time Montreal saw a Stanley Cup parade. The emergence of social media only made things look worse.
CBC and Sportsnet insider Elliott Friedman was on Edmonton’s 630 CHED on Thursday afternoon, providing insight to host Bob Stauffer. The topic was on Matt Duchene of course, he who is very likely to be traded this summer, when Stauffer asked Friedman if trading Duchene to Montreal for Alex Galchenyuk made any sense. And here is what he had to say:
“I do think Montreal will try and trade Galchenyuk, I do. I think it’s likely he’s going to go. Not 100 percent, but I would say that more likely than not, they will try to trade him.”
Whether trading Galchenyuk makes sense or not is not the debate here, as those who are still hot under the collar about the Habs’ trading Subban blew a gasket reading Friedman’s quote. But Galchenyuk is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights comes July first and while he failed to keep his number one centre position under Claude Julien, he is only one season removed from a 30-goals season.
Having said that, while traditional media sources are all over the Galchenyuk trade rumours now, in June, I was on record on the Hockey Sans Limites podcast back on April 2nd, claiming that there was a good chance that he would be sacrificed in a big trade. Listen for yourself (in French)…
Don’t be fooled here folks, Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin will not trade Galchenyuk for the sake of trading him. I genuinely believe that he’s not looking at getting rid of him, and certainly not at any cost. But Bergevin always stated that he is always looking at improving his team. So if you’re honest with yourself here, you will read that if Bergevin feels like he can improve the team in a trade by sacrificing Galchenyuk, he will do it… just like he did when he traded Subban.
The 23-year old C/LW looked poised to break the bank after scoring 30 goals in 2015-16, but he took a bit of a step back this past season. Galchenyuk’s numbers came down (17 goals in 61 games) and he also finished the season on the fourth line. The fact that he still hasn’t improved much in his own end and that a second coach move him back to the wing might be enough to tip the balance for Bergevin to pull the trigger on a trade.
“Ideally, we’d love to have him play centre, but I think he realizes the things that we realize. As a centre, it’s one of the toughest jobs there is because you have to be all over the ice, but you have to be good at both ends and you have to responsible. Right now, he’s not at that stage. As we speak, we have to put a guy in a position where he can help himself and the team.” ~ Canadiens’ head coach Claude Julien at the season’s end press conference.
If the 2012 third overall pick and former 30 goals’ scorer Galchenyuk is on the market, rest assured that there will be a lot of interest from everywhere around the NHL, even from the Las Vegas Golden Knights. But while it’s not hard to find teams interested in getting him, how many teams have what the Canadiens want and need in return? That limits the number of teams right there.
The lack of top-end centres in Montreal is a well documented fact, and while the team seems to have some depth on defense, Bergevin was unable to find Shea Weber a capable partner when really, Nathan Beaulieu missed a golden opportunity to show what he can do.
Say what? Yes, that is quite surprising but how else can anyone explain that 2017 draft prospect Nolan Patrick said, on June 5th, that he will travel to meet with the Canadiens, Devils and Flyers before he goes home to Winnipeg? He said that he would be examined by each team’s medical staff during the visits, which can be explained by the fact that a sports hernia limited him to 33 games this season, but he was cleared by doctors to participate in all the fitness testing at the combine. The Flyers need defense and help in goal, with Steve Mason scheduled to become a UFA. Could something revolve around Galchenyuk, Beaulieu, Alexei Emelin and/or Charlie Lindgren? Who on the Flyers would be of interest for the Canadiens? So many questions…
The worst kept secret, Matt Duchene is very likely to be traded this summer. Could Galchenyuk be part of a deal which would see Duchene in Montreal? Who knows, but this wouldn’t be the first time that rumours tie the Habs to Duchene and the Avalanche. Many (myself included) believe that Duchene’s downward production is directly related to the fact that he’s not happy in Colorado. It all started under Patrick Roy and he has been wanting out since then. Teammate and former Habs Mark Barberio was high in praise for the Avalanche’s centre saying that he is a true professional and has a great attitude in spite of the fact that everyone knows he wants out. He has speed to burn, is responsible defensively and he isn’t afraid to get in traffic, something that would fit in well with Julien’s system.
But wait… why would the Oilers want Galchenyuk when they already have Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pivoting their top-three lines? Two possible answers to this one: 1- Who is to say that RNH wouldn’t be included in the deal? And 2- Who said that the Oilers would want Galchenyuk as a centre instead of as a winger?
Tampa Bay Lightning
This is my personal favourite. While it appears to be harder to grasp on the English side, most people in the French speaking community of the Canadiens’ fan base understand the need to have some local talent on the team as Montreal is a very unique market. Geoff Molson understands that and so does his GM. Which means that if there is any possibility that he might be available, there is not doubt that Bergevin will be all in on Jonathan Drouin. Some pointed out that the only reason for the Lightning to trade Drouin would be because they can’t afford to keep him cap-wise, which is true, but let’s not underestimate the creativity of two of the league’s top hockey minds. Think bigger deal… Braydon Coburn ($3.7M) and Jason Garrison ($4.7M) could both play alongside Weber, particularly Garrison. Would Yzerman and Bergevin have the guts to consume such a trade within the division? Time will tell.
If Galchenyuk is still with the team comes September, it won’t be a bad thing. But in my opinion, it will mean that Bergevin wasn’t offered what he felt was fair value for his young player, or that the deal(s) on the table wouldn’t have improved the team. The next three or four weeks promise to be very exciting as the expansion draft (June 18-21), the amateur draft (June 23-24) and the free agents’ frenzy (starting July 1st) are all around the corner.