(Photo by Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

by Mathieu Chagnon, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

The trade deadline is one of the most anticipated dates on the NHL calendar by the fans and one the most stressful for the players. So the question is: what does it mean for members of the Montreal Canadiens?

First, let’s look at the track record of Marc Bergevin for that exciting point of the year. Since Bergevin took the helm of the Canadiens, he has made a grand total of fifteen transactions within the two weeks leading up to the deadline.

Here is the full list:

Generally, the trade deadline is used by NHL teams to add missing pieces for a Stanley Cup run or a way of preparing for the future. That sets up teams as buyers or sellers.

In the case of the Canadiens, the hope of playing in the Spring is over, with a 0.1 per cent chance to make the playoffs (per sportsclubstats.com.) This means that there is a high probability that general manager Marc Bergevin will be a seller this time.

It will be the second time that Bergevin is in that situation as GM of the Canadiens. After starting the season 2015-16 with a record of 19-4-3, everything started to collapse on December third. The Habs finished the season with a record of 38-38-6 for 82 points, which was 14 points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final playoff spot.

The decision to trade away players not essential to the team plan included forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise. Assets for future, such as Phillip Danault and a second-round pick in 2018, were acquired. 

What will happen at this 2018 trade deadline?

Who’s ‘at risk’?

There is little chance that the Canadiens will trade for immediate help. A few of the  Canadiens players may have been hearing their names mentioned as speculation is rampant about potential transactions.

One player often mentioned these days is Max Pacioretty. For Marc Bergevin, his captain is perhaps the player that could get him the best return and help fill future needs especially if the general manager is able to acquire a player that could develop as a number one centre or a top-pairing, left defenseman.

Pacioretty is one of the best goal scorers in the NHL in recent years and has one more year  on a team-friendly contract making him very attractive for any organisation that would like to extend their window of opportunity.

It as been reported that the asking price for the captain is a first and a second-round pick, a top prospect and a NHL player.

Some will say this asking price is over the top but Bergevin must set the bar high as, on a team that struggles to score, Pacioretty will be difficult to adequately replace. Teams who are all-in this season for the Cup may be inclined to pay that price.

That said, there is no urgency for the Canadiens to trade Pacioretty at the deadline. In fact, Bergevin is more likely to get a better return prior to the NHL draft.

Tomas Plekanec is another player who has also been mentioned in rumors. Plekanec is probably the most likely to leave the Canadiens. The veteran in the role of a third line shutdown centre would be a very attractive rental player for a contending team.

Sadly, a trade could come before Plekanec reaches the 1000-game milestone with the Canadiens.

Plekanec is a quiet leader who will only add to the chemistry of a new team. The return  should be draft picks, a mid-level prospect or maybe a combination of the two.

While Alex Galchenyuk’s name was tossed out early in the process, the likelihood that he will be traded at the deadline has been falling. Galchenyuk is currently number 19 on the TSN trade bait board. 

Galchenyuk is still in the early stage of his career, showing sparks of his high potential from time-to-time, but he hasn’t fully panned out yet. In my estimation, Galchenyuk’s value on the market is still low, and it is doubtful that there will be a good trade partner at this time of the year.

Will the past be an indication for this deadline?

Since 2015, a grand total of 121 trades have been completed within the two weeks period before the deadline. A total seven first-round picks, 30 second-round picks and 22 third-round picks have been involved. Of those trades, 62 were made the day of the deadline.

Only eight big names have been dealt in this time period:

  • in 2015 it was Keith Yandle, Jaromir Jagr and Andrej Sekera;
  • in 2016 it was Eric Staal and Andrew Ladd;
  • in 2017 it was Kevin Shattenkirk, Ben Bishop and Patrick Eaves,

And, only Kevin Shattenkirk was dealt at the deadline.

To summarize, even if the trade deadline is hyped by the mainstream media, very few major trades will likely happen on that day, as most of them will occur few days before.