FEATURE: Karl Alzner, Help On The Left Side
Karl Alzner, Defence, Washington Capitals
September. 24, 1988 | Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
6-3, 219 lbs. | Shoots Left |
2016-’17 Stats: 82 GP, 3 G, 10 A, 13 Pts
The first big trade of the 2017 off-season has recently taken place, and surprise surprise, it once again involved the Montreal Canadiens.
On June 15th the Habs sent top prospect Mikhail Sergachev (9th overall pick in 2016) and a conditional 2nd round pick in 2018 to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin (3rd overall pick in 2013) and a conditional 6th round pick in 2018.
*2018 conditional 2nd round pick*
If Sergachev doesn’t play 40 regular season or playoff games for the Lightning in the 2017/18 season, then Tampa Bay receives Canadiens 2018 2nd round pick. If he plays 40 games, no draft picks are exchanged.
*2018 conditional 6th round pick*
If Sergachev doesn’t play 40 regular season or playoff games for the Lightning in the 2017/18, then Montreal receives Tampa Bay’s 2018 6th round pick. If he plays 40 games, no draft picks are exchanged.
Obviously this trade startled many fans, as Marc Bergevin declared numerous times that Sergachev would not be moved. I feel as if we’ve heard that phrase before, nonetheless, what’s done is done and most fans are happy with the acquisition of Quebec born Jonathan Drouin joining the Habs roster, and signing a six-year, $33 million contract the same day.
Sergachev was not the only left-handed blueliner to move on from the Montreal Canadiens however, as Nathan Beaulieu was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a 3rd round pick (they used that pick to select defender Scott Walford of the Victoria Royals), and hard hitting defender Alexei Emelin was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights during the expansion draft.
The Canadiens sent a 5th round pick in 2019 to the Vegas Golden Knights soon after these moves were made, acquiring defender David Schlemko, who carries a cap hit of $2.1 million for the next three seasons. They also signed KHL defender Jakub Jerabek to a one-year contract back on May 1st. Both players are left-handed shooters.
Contract negotiations are still in progress with UFA Andrei Markov, who is reportedly requesting a two-year contract worth $12.0 million. Many believe these contract demands are a bit too rich for the Canadiens to offer a player who will be 39 in December, nevertheless Markov can still put up points and has been a leader on the team for many years, so I believe it’s safe to assume Marc Bergevin will come up with a contract that will make both sides pleased.
With Markov’s status still up in the air, the Canadiens left-side now consists of David Schlemko, Brandon Davidson and Jakub Jerabek to begin the 2017-2018 season. I have nothing against any of these players, but help is definitely required on the left side.
One player that was linked to the Montreal Canadiens, and who met with Canadiens brass, was free agent Karl Alzner, who has spent his entire NHL career with the Washington Capitals, and was the 5th overall pick in 2007. Alzner was one of the first unrestricted free agents signed after the so-called frenzy opened at 12 noon ET.
A resilient top-four, stay at home, penalty killing defenceman who hasn’t missed a regular season game since the 2009-2010 season, Alzner found himself a member of the Montreal Canadiens after successful negotiations with Marc Bergevin.
Alzner is a good skater with strong positional awareness, which would allow his defence partner, whether that is Shea Weber or Jeff Petry, more opportunities to jump into a scoring play, recognizing that Alzner would be there to bail them out. He also gets into the passing lanes, blocks shots (162 last season), and can play a rugged, physical game (105 hits last season).
Alzner may not be the physical presence of Alexei Emelin, who frequently threw massive hits during his time in Montreal, but at 6-foot-3-inches, 219 pounds, players should certainly have their head up when crossing the blue line. Alzner will not wow you on the scoresheet, with 13 points last season (his lowest point total since 2010-2011), playing for a team that scored the 3rd most goals in the league, but he will deliver quality shutdown hockey, and will take care of the puck while reading plays extremely well.
Alzner was able to obtain a significant raise from the $2.8 million he made the previous four seasons with Washington, but benefited considering the lack of free agent defencemen obtainable this off-season. Alzner was looking for a long term deal, as this could be his last chance to cash in, especially with a relatively weak free agent class.