NHL Trade Deadline 2018 | Montreal Canadiens Fire Sale
GM Marc Bergevin ran the club with a “win-now” philosophy over the past couple of seasons, leading to a rote, first-round playoff dismissal last season and a miniscule chance of earning a playoff spot this year, as indicated by the Sports Interaction’s futures odds. Coach Claude Julien couldn’t rally the troops, while his replacement in Boston, Bruce Cassidy, transformed the Bruins into a legitimate Eastern Conference threat.
Montreal’s core is young enough to rebound for another run next year, but a full rebuild may represent the best option for the Habs to get back to the Stanley Cup. As the trade deadline approaches, Canadiens trade rumors link the 24-time champions to a number of contenders who salivate over some of the Habs best players.
A surprising number of fans believe that Carey Price should be traded if the right package lands into Montreal’s lap. A Montreal Gazette poll revealed that 17.5 percent of 10,860 respondents believe a Price trade would work well for the Habs.
Rumours suggest that one suitor would be the St. Louis Blues, who’ve been quietly hunting for top-notch goaltending talent to replace either Jake Allen or Carter Hutton between the pipes. The price would be steep – a pair of first round picks, Carter Hutton and highly touted prospect Robert Thomas. Understandably, the Blues will take their time before deciding to pull the trigger.
Captain and most consistent scorer, Max Pacioretty’s name has been floated in rumours with teams that need extra production on the wing. According to Nick Kypreos, the asking price is “a first-rounder, a second-rounder, a warm roster body, and a top prospect”, driving up prices for the trade market across the NHL.
A contender might splurge on Pacioretty if an unfortunate injury removed a top line winger from the lineup. Max will be one of the most popular players before the deadline because he’s still only 29, and carries a superb cap hit of $4.5 million. As such, he may contribute as more than just a rental, giving his destination team an opportunity to re-sign the sniper.
There’s simply no need for Plekanec to continue on with the Habs. He’s not going to be part of any long-term plans, and Montreal won’t suddenly bounce back into contention because he re-signs next season.
As an assistant captain, plenty of teams could use Tomas to improve defensive depth while providing veteran leadership for a contender on a playoff run. Plekanec served the Habs well and deserves a shot at a cup, should the right offer cross GM Bergevin’s desk. Some believe that Bergevin should be immediately fired if Tomas isn’t traded.
As a young, two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks, Andrew Shaw’s the type of contributor who doesn’t show up with spectacular stats. Instead, he’s a steady two-way asset who performs well in the faceoff circle, capable of tying up opposing scoring lines while chipping in key secondary production. He’s also excellent in the post-season.
Shaw will be much more than a rental, with a relatively easy cap hit of $3.9 million until the 2021-2022 season. This might delay a trade until the offseason if Montreal doesn’t receive a decent offer for Andrew.
Perhaps Alex will enjoy success elsewhere after struggling to fit in with the Canadiens for years. As a highly touted offensive prospect, the Habs have tried to fit him in as a center and a winger. Unfortunately, Montreal’s seen only brief samples of his potential, instead of watching him develop into a consistent 30-goal threat.
There’s still plenty of game left in his tank, and he’s only 23 years old, a couple of years away from his prime. However, the Habs might not be able to receive fair value for the talented forward, given the ups and downs throughout his career.