Tomas Plekanec (Photo by AP)

by Mathieu Chagnon, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

After parting ways with Andrei Markov last summer, the Canadiens turned another page with a long-time veteran by trading Tomas Plekanec to the Maple Leafs.

Tomas Plekanec played a total of 981 games with the bleu-blanc-rouge, good for the 7th most in the history of the Canadiens, just ahead of Maurice Richard (978) and Yvan Cournoyer (968).

Plekanec also surpassed Dickie Moore in points at 13th with 605 only seven points shy of Mats Naslund.

Tomas Plekanec has always been recognized as a very good two-way forward and being very efficient on the penalty kill, but he also put some very productive seasons with a career high of 70 points in 2009-10.

Plekanec never had the luxury to have steady wingers by his side and saw many different linemates during his career, but this has never been a problem for him who could easily adapt to them. Here is a list of the most notable ones: Alex Kovalev, Andrei Kostitsyn, Mike Cammalleri, Rene Bourque, Brian Gionta, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty.

Like Saku Koivu before him, Plekanec should haven’t not been used as the number one center of the Canadiens. The lack of depth at the position made Plekanec one of the most utilized forwards by the many coaches he had during his career in Montreal. This over-utilisation caused Plekanec to be often out of gas by the end of the season and in the playoffs.

In the next illustration, looking at eSAT%, which is the relation between the amount of the effectiveness of Shot ATempts For versus the effectiveness of Shot ATempts against, you can clearly see that since the season 2009-10, except for the lock-out season and 2014-15, Plekanec constantly showed signs of fatigue and reductions in his performances.

The season that should have sounded the alarm is 2013-14 where his performance considerably decreased from the beginning till the end. The late season effects even appeared the following season where he struggled offensively at the start.

Perhaps that was a moment to deal Plekanec but instead, the Canadiens extended his contract, on October 16th 2015. This seemed to greatly motivate Plekanec. That season, he had possibly his best start in career.

The performance over the last two seasons combined with the significant impact of his salary on the cap hit of the team, over depreciated his value.

However, this doesn’t mean that Plekanec was a bad asset for the Canadiens, as you can see his eSAT% was over the fifty percent most of these seasons, which means that he had a positive influence on the ice.

It is often overlooked that Plekanec is one of the premiere shutdown centres in the NHL and is very versatile. These are the qualities that made him very desirable to other teams.

More importantly, it is clear that he had a positive influence he had in dressing room as well. Many players have attested to that. He has always been a professional, a worthy representative of the Canadiens and classy player. After the trade, before catching his plane, Plekanec took few minutes to encounter the journalists and give a last goodbye to the place he called home for the last 15 years.

As for the other players implicated in the transaction, the Canadiens send Kyle Baun to Toronto as well, who was acquired previously from the Blackhawks for the services of Andreas Martinsen.

One of the main elements the Canadiens are receiving is a second-round pick for this year’s draft. Marc Bergevin also managed to add two depth prospects, Kerby Rychel and Rinat Valiev. The prospects were leveraged by the Canadiens agreeing to retain 50 percent of Plekanec’s salary.

Rinat Valiev was stuck behind many other defensemen on the depth chart in Toronto. The six-foot-two, 22-year-old defensemen is a former third-round pick in the 2014 draft. He is considered to be very close to the NHL level and perhaps could fight for a spot on the third pair in Montreal.

As for Kerby Rychel, the former first-round pick of Columbus has been on Montreal radar for quite a well. At six-foot-one and 214 pounds, Rychel took some aspect in his play from his dad, the former NHLer Warren Rychel. He plays a very gritty game and has an offensive upside.

Already playing for his third organization at only 23 years old, Rychel hasn’t been able to meet high expectations. However, he is still young and we may see him on a fourth line in a near future.

This is the second time that Marc Bergevin finds himself in the seller’s chair and he is doing very well by acquiring assets that will help the team in the future.