On May 2nd, 2012, Marc Bergevin was named general manager and executive vice president of the Montreal Canadiens. To date, Bergevin has made a total of 46 trades. However, only one of those trades has really defined his tenure.
Yes, you guessed it, the P.K. Subban trade. For some, this trade was a stab in the heart, a fan favorite who gave so much to the community gone in a flash. He was traded for Shea Weber, the captain of the Nashville Predators, gold medalist for Canada, and one of the top defensemen in the league. All that didn’t seem to matter. Fans set social media ablaze with tweets supporting the return of P.K. and the firing of Bergevin.
Many fans were blinded by the fact their favorite player was now gone, not caring to see what came the other way. Weber brought much more stability on the blue line. He was a low-risk, high-reward type player as opposed to a high-risk, high-reward guy.
In the end, both teams got exactly the type of d-man they wanted. But fans quickly forgot Bergevin’s positive trades that helped the Canadiens finish with over 100 points three times and go to the conference finals in 2013-14.
Before the big trade, many fans were happy with Bergevin and his ability to sign good players for less. Max Pacioretty is a good example, with the general manager signing him to a six-year $4.5 million per year contract. This is a steal for a player who annually scores 30-plus goals, and 60-plus points without the benefit of a top center.
I liked the acquisition of Andrew Shaw from the Blackhawks for two early second-round draft picks (Chad Krys and Alex DeBrincat.) Bergevin picked up two late second-round picks (Joni Ikonen and 2018 pick) when he traded Lars Eller to Washington.
Phillip Danault was brought to Montreal by trading Dale Weise, Tomas Fleischmann. The Canadiens also received a second-round draft pick in 2018. Last season, Danault scored 13 goals and 27 assists as the number two center.
Other noteworthy trades:
Raphael Diaz for Dale Weise – At first, this looked like a depth move for both teams. However, Weise ended up scoring three goals in that year’s playoffs, two of them being game winners.
Greg Pateryn for Jordie Benn – This helped the Habs bolster their defense with a more experienced, everyday d-man while giving up a depth guy who was a sixth or seventh defensemen at best.
Rene Bourque for Bryan Allen – The genius of this deal wasn’t really who they brought in but the fact they got rid of Bourque and his $3.33 million contract. Bourque never scored more than 16 points in a season while playing for Montreal and still had another year left on that hefty contract.
Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin – I love the acquisition of Drouin, but hate the fact they gave up their top bargaining chip and still don’t have a number one center. In addition, Bergevin couldn’t sign Alexander Radulov who bolted to Dallas. With Radulov gone, this becomes more of a side move then a forward move and they still don’t have that elusive center.
Other than the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Bergevin has relied on Trevor Timmins and his scouting staff to draft some good players even though he only had one top ten pick. The team drafted players with good potential such as Nikita Sherbak, Michael McCarron, Jacob De La Rose, and Artturi Lehkonen, who have already seen action in Montreal.
Not every move Bergevin made turned to gold. Bergevin signed Tomas Plekanec to a two-year, $12 million contract. Even at the time, it seemed like much for an aging second or third line center, and last Plekanec’s last years’ stats proved that it was.
Shaw is another contract that looks like it may be too long and too high. $3.9 million over the next five seasons seems like an awful lot of money for a third or fourth line winger.
Bergevin made some poor trades as well:
Brandon Prust for Zack Kassian – As we all know, Kassian ended up in a vehicle accident in the off-season and never played a regular season game for Montreal.
Zack Kassian for Ben Scrivens – Scrivens played only 15 games for the Habs and was average at best while Kassian went on to score 24 points in a fourth line role for the Oilers.
Sven Andrighetto for Andreas Martinsen – Andrighetto went on to have some success in Colorado scoring 15 points in 19 games. Some, including myself, feel that the Habs didn’t give him the time to reach his full potential.
In my opinion, the good moves far outway the bad. Is Marc Bergevin perfect? No, of course not, but he does seem to be doing what he can to improve the team. If you look back on his history as GM, he only really made two major trades, involving Subban and Drouin.
He signed some top free agents when he needed them like Radulov and Karl Alzner. With $8.4 million of cap space left as the season draws closer, one would have to think that there is a long-term plan.
In 2018, John Tavares, Mikko Koivu, and Paul Stastny will be available as free agents to fill that number one center void. On defense, Mike Green, John Carlson, Jack Johnson will also be available. With a potential for over $16 million in cap space to start next season, the Canadiens can easily bring in a number one and number two center along with a top pairing defensemen. Bergevin doesn’t want to spend money when he has it, he wants to spend money when he can use it.