Antti Niemi (Photo by Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

by Chris G, Digital Radio Producer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

LAVAL, QC. — With trade deadline behind us, the Canadiens are now focusing on giving ice time to their young players for the remainder of the season.

Here are my top 5 takes of the past week:

  1. Trade deadline – Tomas Plekanec was traded to the Leafs along with Kyle Baun and in return, the Canadiens acquired the services of Rinat Valiev, Kerby Rychel and a 2018 second round draft pick. Considering I was expecting a third or fourth round draft pick for Plekanec, I think this was a good return obtained by Marc Bergevin. The Habs GM gave up less for Mike Reilly than what he got for Joe Morrow. So far, Reilly has been an upgrade to Morrowwho was traded to the Winnipeg Jets. The Habs GM gets a passing grade for his work at deadline.
  2. Max remains a Hab – Lots of talk in the days/hours heading into trade deadline about Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty wanting to leave town. Max has consistently said that he wants to remain with the team, but with the way that the fans and the media have spoken about him this season, would you blame him if he changed his mind? In his post-trade deadline press conference, the Habs GM was asked if he would extend Pacioretty’s contract during the offseason, and Bergevin chose to be non-committal. I believe that Paciorrety’s days with the Habs are numbered and to expect him to be  traded before the start of next season.
  3. Niemi playing for a new contract – One player that I was expecting to get traded by deadline was Antti Niemi. Excluding his start in Las Vegas, Niemi has played better than I expected. Considering the Canadiens acquired him via waivers, any return for him, would be a win. Bergevin mentioned that Carey Price’s injury didn’t change his plans at deadline. One is to wonder if he said that not to face additional criticism or is there more to the story? Has Niemi’s play earned him another contract with the team and making Charlie Lindgren expendable? Lindgren has put up good NHL numbers and has a very friendly NHL contract.
  4. Alex Barre-Boulet – The Tampa Bay Lightning signed QMJHL leading scorer Alex Barre-Boulet to an entry-level contract earlier this week. Tampa’s decision meant a lot of criticism was directed towards the Canadiens for passing up a local boy. In my opinion,  the Canadiens should know Quebec prospects better than any other team (just as the Maple Leafs should know Ontario prospects.)  The signing by Tampa was also a thorn in the side of many fans given that Lightning assistant-GM, Julien Brisebois, is an often-mentioned replacement for Marc Bergevin. Fans should keep in mind that 29 teams in addition to Montreal passed on signing Barre-Boulet. Perhaps there is a good reason.  Why hasn’t anyone talked about him until the announcement of the contract signing?
  5. Bergevin remains GM – All indications point to Marc Bergevin remaining as GM of the Canadiens heading into next season. I can’t say that I am surprised if that is that is the case. Considering he has a contract until the end of the 2021-2022 season, at what I would assume to be more at more than $5-million per season, I don’t see any business man willing to pay someone that much money to stay at home. On the hockey side of it, when Bergevin was hired, the team was at the bottom of the conference. Six years later, the team is at the same spot. How can you trust that the GM who was supposed to build a winner quickly and failed, to destroy the team he built and make it great again?

Leave your comments below. I am looking forward to interacting with all of you.

Here is a reminder that you can catch me on the Habs360 podcast LIVE every Saturday at 2:00 pm. ET. Visit the podcast section to listen.