This year’s NHL trade deadline is gearing up to be pretty eventful—especially if you’re a fan of the Montreal Canadiens.
The Atlantic Division leaders are expected to make a splash at the deadline as they gear up for a run at the Stanley Cup.
“Of all the Canadian teams, I think they’re the ones that are swinging most for the fences,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said during a Hockey Central panel discussion on Wednesday night. “Other general managers will tell you that Marc Bergevin is a guy who’s got his fingers in everything. You know, he’s a guy who has said in the past, ‘I will take my cut when I think we have a chance to win.’ Montreal’s window is now.”
Montreal has struggled so far this month, losing four straight—another sign a shakeup could be coming.
The Canadiens have been linked to centreman Martin Hanzal for some time now, but the Arizona Coyotes’ ask—”Michael McCarron, a first rounder, and another conditional draft pick,” said Friedman—was too pricey for the rental.
Still, all signs point to Montreal striking while the iron is hot.
“If you look at the way this team is built, you owe Carey Price a new contract after the end of next season, you just traded for Shea Weber at a point in his career where he’s at his most effective. You have to do it right now. There’s no other option,” said Chris Johnston. “They are, I would say not just in Canada but around the league, the team that I expect to make the biggest splash leading into March 1.”
The panel also touched on other Canadian teams and what might—or at least should—be on their agendas.
Here are some notable quotes from the insiders’ panel discussion:
Toronto Maple Leafs: Stick to the plan
Friedman: “I think they’re just going to do nothing unless it fits the long-term plan. I don’t see them doing any major surgery.”
Johnston: “If we see them stepping in, I could see a fourth-line centreman being a position they target. They’ve got Ben Smith back from injury and I’m not sure where they stand on Frederik Gauthier. It’s not going to be a headline-grabbing day for them.”
Doug MacLean: “I think they need a defenceman. I think if they think they’re going to get into the playoffs and have a chance, they need some depth on the blue line. I think it’ll be a low-price guy, more of a depth type of guy, maybe a veteran guy that can come in and be that No. 5 guy.”
Winnipeg Jets: Ben Bishop experiment?
Friedman: “Is it important for them to make the playoffs this year? I would love to see Winnipeg take a chance on someone like Ben Bishop for the rest of the season. You don’t have to keep him, you can hand the net back to [Connor] Hellebuyck next year, but if you’re asking me for a trade I’d like to see made, I’d love to see Winnipeg try Ben Bishop.”
Calgary Flames: Many maybes
MacLean: “They want a No. 4 defenceman, they’ve been in search of that all year. And they could also—they may consider a goaltender because they haven’t been happy with their goaltending.”
Vancouver Canucks: Lessons learned?
Johnston: “They learned a lesson last year, I’m certain. Getting Radim Vrbata, Dan Hamhuis, not turning those into assets. With the way they’re heading right now, you’d have to think Alex Burrows, maybe Ryan Miller, Jannik Hansen another player. They have to get some value back for the guys on expiring deals.”