It’s never been more difficult to conclude trades according to NHL General Managers around the league, yet it’s been a long time since traditional media have had so much trade material to talk about. The Columbus Dispatch added fuel to the fire today by announcing that disgruntled 21 year old forward Kerby Rychel has requested a trade in the summer and still wants out.
PENTICTON, BC. – So looking at the names being thrown around in the last few weeks, and knowing that Marc Bergevin has stated in a few occasions that he’s not looking for short term help, just who might he just have a chance to acquire once the right deal comes about? Let’s have a look at the names which have made the traditional media news in the last few weeks.
JONATHAN DROUIN (Lightning)
As I have touched on when the news came out that he had requested a trade, the Habs are likely not in the running for Drouin. Not because Marc Bergevin doesn’t want him or won’t try to make a solid offer, but simply because Steve Yzerman will not want to risk have Drouin come and haunt him within his own division for years to come, especially not on a team like Montreal who already is a Stanley Cup contender. As a matter of fact, even if the Habs had the best offer on the table, Yzerman is likely to pick the second best offer to avoid an embarrassing situation. Everything is possible but I’d fall out of my chair if Drouin ended up in Montreal anytime soon.
The Hockey News has reported that primary interest for Drouin will come from the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils. THN also reports that the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Penguins and Bruins are teams to watch in the Drouin sweepstakes. The Habs are no where to be seen on that long list of teams.
RYAN JOHANSEN (Blue Jackets)
Remember the old days of Vincent Lecavalier’s confrontations with John Tortorella back in Tampa Bay? This Ryan Johansen story is not without reminding me of it. There is no doubt that the big centre is not happy under Tortorella but he’s also the Blue Jackets’ best player and for that reason, in spite of the tough love between the coach and the player, I do not anticipate that Columbus will trade their young player. Tortorella and Johansen will have to work things up between them… unless someone comes up with an offer that would knock the socks off Jarmo Kekalainen, the team GM.
WAYNE SIMMONDS (Flyers)
It is my belief that the Flyers never even entertained trading Wayne Simmonds and that the rumours were simply based on the fact that the team was in cap trouble with the eventual return of defenseman Mark Streit from injured reserve. Not that teams didn’t enquire about Simmonds, but a 30 goals scorer with such a good contract is not someone that you get rid of when you have cap issues. And the Flyers found a much more effective solution by putting Sam Gagner on waivers. If teams want Simmonds, they’ll have to overpay and ultimately, make the Flyers a better team after the trade. That’s unlikely.
ERIC STAAL (Hurricanes)
Eric Staal’s situation is an interesting one. GM Ron Francis is like a rollercoaster when discussing his team captain’s contract situation. Sometimes, you have a feeling that he’ll trade him and a while later, he seems to want to re-sign him. When the team was doing poorly, few thought that the Hurricanes would keep him but now that the team has started winning some games, it’s back to a guessing game. Just how important is it for Eric to play with his brother Jordan and does he wants to stay in Carolina for the long term? How much money will it take to keep him there? People claim that his play has regressed in recent years but I have to disagree with that statement. His production has diminished drastically but not so much his play. I have a feeling that if you put him with good line mates, he can return to the dominant number one centre he once was and as he’s shown at the Olympic Games.
KERBY RYCHEL (Blue Jackets)
This is now the flavour of the team. When Aaron Portzline came out naming the Canadiens as one of the teams interested in Kerby Rychel, Habs’ fans started hoping once again. How often can you get your hands on a young power forward in the making, one who is not afraid to drop the gloves, really? Of all the names mentioned above, this is perhaps the more likely target for Bergevin. For one thing, while the Blue Jackets are in the Conference, they are not in the same division. Could something be worked out including Jarred Tinordi and a prospect winger from St. John’s? I think so.
STEVEN STAMKOS (Lightning)
Aside from age and contractual situation at the end of the season, here’s the biggest difference between Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Drouin: Stamkos can and will dictate where he is going (if traded of course) because he has a full no-movement clause attached to his contract. So the Lightning can approach him asking for a list of teams where he would accept to be traded to but they cannot force his hand. There can be only one or two teams on the list if Stamkos wants to finish the season elsewhere, or none at all if he doesn’t want to. As many “experts” have stated in recent weeks, Montreal could very well be a preferred destination for the All-Star forward due to the fact that the Habs are serious contenders to the Stanley Cup and his good buddy P.K. Subban is on that team. Bergevin would then have the big end of the stick, the same way Anaheim had with Kesler and Florida had with Luongo, therefore avoiding overpayment. This is a real possibility folks and if it happens, don’t be surprised if Stamkos re-signed with the team.
One cannot leave the Oilers out of the equation. Both teams have been following each other for several weeks and many insiders have stated that the Ben Scrivens for Zack Kassian deal was supposed to be much bigger. As Bergevin needed Scrivens immediately, they completed that part of the deal but this doesn’t mean that the discussions between he and Peter Chiarelli are over by any means. It is my hope that they are not talking Jordan Eberle as while he has been playing better off late, he is undersized and rather soft, not something the Canadiens are needing right now. I would rather them take a shot at someone like Nail Yakupov who might be a better fit alongside former Sarnia teammate Alex Galchenyuk. I do believe that Tinordi is being discussed but that the Oilers would rather have Nathan Beaulieu instead. Don’t count the Oilers out from pulling another deal with the Canadiens.
As you can see, there are a lot of potential deals out there and while the salary cap makes in-season trades very difficult, it is not an impossible task to pull some off. One thing is for sure, it is time for Bergevin to take a chance.
Go Habs Go!