by Christopher Nardella, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Max Friberg (Photo by Joe Lester/Press Line Photos/Corbis)
Max Friberg (Photo by Joe Lester/Press Line Photos/Corbis)

POINTE CLAIRE, QC. — Acquiring Max Friberg hasn’t ended the anguish regarding the need for a top-six forward throughout the Canadiens fan base. However, the trade does have potential auspicious possibilities for a team with a disappointing offence relative to the one we saw early on in 2015-’16.

Never a statistical dynamo at any level while rising through the ranks of Swedish hockey, Max Friberg has proven quite the selection from the depths of the 2011 NHL entry draft. He inconspicuously made his way through the Swedish Elite League, beginning and ending his time in the league with Timra IK, where he scored 13 goals and recorded 36 points in 103 games as an 18 and 19-year old. In 2011-12, he lead the World Junior Championship in scoring on a gold medal-winning Swedish team. The next season he made the jump to the North American game.

The Skovde, Sweden native is a quick skater, which is first and foremost the basis of his game. Friberg has an ebullient playing style, with above average hands and solid abilities on one-on-ones or on the rush, where he generates a significant proportion of his scoring chances. He has unremitting work ethic, is strong on the forecheck and is solid on the boards. According to many within the Ducks organization, the Swedish left winger also possesses a great attitude in regards to not only his situation of playing few games in the NHL, but around the locker room in general.

Friberg’s ability in his own end has grown by leaps and bounds to the point where he’s no longer a liability and is actually rather strong in that department. Friberg’s diminutive stature has been the main reason why he has only played six NHL games as well as transitioning his play to the North American style. Standing at 5-foot-11-inches, the Swede isn’t alarmingly small, however on an Anaheim Ducks team that prides itself on physicality, he was the odd man out on the majority of occasions. Again, his physicality has improved significantly however Friberg doesn’t possess the offensive capabilities, of say a Carl Hagelin, to overcome that insufficiency with the Ducks.

Dustin Tokarski’s conspicuous fall from one time backup placeholder, for either Zach Fucale or whichever else younger prospect, has been, frankly, difficult to watch. The beginning of the end of Dustin Tokarski emanated during last season with the backup role secured. As his stats began to diminish from the one time solidity they once were, so did most trust in him, which all culminated to a disaster of a pre-season and subsequent prosaic play not only in the NHL but in the AHL as well.

In trading Tokarski, the Canadiens have opened up an opportunity for Zachary Fucale to grow as a goaltender and possibly give him ample opportunity to prove to other organizations that he’s a valuable trading asset. When Carey Price retrieves his position in front of the Canadiens’ goal, either Ben Scrivens or Mike Condon was destined to be sent down, if not claimed. In that circumstance Fucale would’ve been stuck behind a pair of veteran goalies, relative to his experience.

As was parallel in the Zack Kassian / Ben Scrivens trade, the team turned an unnecessary asset into a potentially valuable piece. With the consignment of Friberg to the Habs, that opens the trading market for the many players in the team’s system that have a similar playing style/build, such as Sven Andrighetto or Charles Hudon.

The Anaheim Ducks were aware of Tokarski’s mediocrity and regardless put him in higher regard than Anton Khudobin, whom they placed on waivers last month and is halcyon in the organization. The injury of Anaheim’s materializing superstar John Gibson triggered the transaction from the Ducks’ standpoint. On Anaheim’s side of the spectrum, this transaction was coextensive to the Canadiens’ side, in that they were parlaying an asset not likely to become a major contributor in their system into an asset that they were in need of more so than the Habs were with Friberg.

Best/Worst Case Scenario

Max Friberg (for Montreal)

Best

The once Swedish World Junior hero rounds out his all-around game and inclines his play to a level that would make him a bottom-six/top-nine forward with offensive flare who can hold his own physically. A solid two-way player that complements the other assets of his game in a propitious top-nine capacity.

Worst

Friberg amounts to nothing more than an interminable AHL’er and never attains the NHL level. He flames out a-là Louis Leblanc. The Canadiens don’t lose much of an asset, relative to their goaltending depth, in Dustin Tokarski even if the net minder develops into an arrogate transact piece or an unabating backup.

Dustin Tokarski (for Anaheim)

Best

They parlay a seemingly underperforming player into another goaltender in their system that can occupy the backup role if/when Fredrik Andersen gets traded and John Gibson moves into the primary starter role. They yet again garner another piece other teams will perpetually have a need for. If Friberg turns into a viable top-nine option, they give simply give a redoubtable prospect a spot on their roster or they acquire a free agent to fill that spot.

Worst

Tokarski continues to the level he has been gravitating towards and just becomes another roster spot. They have to begin searching for someone to backup John Gibson.

Although not the preferred quality of player, Max Friberg is regardlessly an efficacious bet especially when an asset is heading the other way. Both teams made an assiduous transaction with just as much positive and negatives for either side. The percentages are low that this is a trade that triggers a sanctimonious attitude from Habs fans, as is customary when speaking about Ryan McDonagh.