The NHL Commerce deadline on April twelfth is quick approaching, and Montreal Canadiens’ common supervisor Marc Bergevin is feeling the stress to behave. After two losses to the Calgary Flames on the highway, social media and Montreal’s mainstream media was abuzz with anger that the season is getting away from them.
Nevertheless, as of March 16, the Canadiens sit in fourth place (third in win share) within the Scotia North Division so there’s nonetheless time to behave. They’re in a canine combat for playoff place in opposition to the Edmonton Oilers and the resurging Flames. Montreal is on the level of this reset with a stocked prospect cabinet and 14 picks within the upcoming draft. It is sensible to be a purchaser at this yr’s deadline.
As a result of pandemic, and the Federal laws, any gamers coming into Canada from exterior the nation would wish to isolate for 14 days previous to becoming a member of the workforce. On account of this, the expectation is that Bergevin will make a transfer sooner reasonably than wait till the deadline as that participant would miss 9 of the workforce’s final 13 video games within the stretch run.
Regardless of Bergevin’s sturdy offseason, the Habs are nonetheless in want of reinforcements. Ben Chiarot is out for six to eight weeks with a damaged hand. Even earlier than dropping a top-four defenceman, the Canadiens wanted to improve the blue line with a puck-moving defenceman, and extra upgrades to the lineup will likely be wanted. This text will focus on a few of these areas.
Want # 1: A Puck Shifting Defenceman
The case to accumulate Mattias Ekholm has been made on this web site two weeks in the past, and will probably be an costly proposition. Pierre Lebrun notes that if a futures deal had been to occur, the Nashville Predators could be looking for a first-round decide and a top-end prospect, maybe extra (The Athletic, LeBrun: Commerce matches these 6 contenders ought to discover forward of NHL Commerce deadline, 12 Mar 2021).
So within the Canadiens’ case, they would wish to dip into their deep pool of picks and prospects. Bergevin might have to be prepared to “lose” a commerce long run to assist the workforce win now.
One other puck-moving defenceman (PMD) that might be out there is Vince Dunn of the St. Louis Blues. The six-foot, 203-pound left-handed defenceman is able to enjoying within the prime 4. Dunn is suited to the extra fashionable model defender within the NHL, as he’s cellular, can lead in transition, has a very good shot and may quarterback a second wave energy play (PP).
Dunn hasn’t had a very good begin to the season. With solely 9 factors in 27 video games performed, he might have a change of surroundings. The 2019 Stanley Cup Champion is beneath contract this season for $1.875 million and will likely be a restricted free agent (RFA) within the offseason. The Canadiens can afford the cap house, however the associated fee to accumulate him from a Blues workforce preventing for a Honda West Division playoff berth could also be excessive. A primary-round decide is sort of assured to be a centerpiece, in addition to a prospect.
Want #2: A Veteran Heart
One benefit of buying Brandon Sutter from the Vancouver Canucks, is there could be no want for the 14-day quarantine, so he might be part of the workforce instantly. He’s within the ultimate yr of a $4.35 million per season deal, which suggests the Canucks would wish to maintain a few of the cap hit or tackle a contract in return.
With 62.9% defensive zone begins, Sutter has been relied on closely in a defensive position. The third liner is averaging 14:58 per sport with Vancouver. He’s additionally relied on for his prowess within the faceoff circle as he boasts a 55.7% success price on faceoffs this season.
Sutter boasts a giant body, but he isn’t overly bodily, as his model is extra in pressuring the attacking gamers. He can add some lower-end scoring depth on a bottom-six, but his primary worth could be including veteran middle depth to a workforce that wants it. The fee to accumulate him received’t be very excessive, maybe as excessive as a second-round decide.
Erik Haula is a two-way middle with some good velocity that has offensive instincts, having a 29 objective season with the enlargement Vegas Golden Knights. Nevertheless, he’s extra of a very good third-line middle offering some offence. He has good possession stats on a slumping Predators workforce, probably thanks partially to his glorious faceoff stats this season, profitable 56.8% of his attracts this yr.
The six-foot, 193-pound middle is on a one-year $1.75 million contract. The Canadiens can afford this contract, and the return is probably not too excessive, probably a prospect or a decide. The primary worth might be sooner or later if the Habs are unable to retain Phillip Danault and Ryan Poehling isn’t able to step into the NHL on a 3rd line subsequent season, having an choice in-house to retain for the position might be useful.
Like these already talked about, Cody Eakin could be acquired to fill a bottom-six middle position. The veteran middle has confirmed he can rating 15 or extra objectives, as seen in prior seasons in Vegas and with the Dallas Stars. At present, with the Buffalo Sabres, Eakin has just one objective this season, but, contemplating the horrible yr that the workforce has sadly had, that is an outlier.
Eakin is within the first yr of an inexpensive two-year $2.25 million deal and will present some middle depth to a workforce in want of it within the mid-term future. He provides a facet of the sport the Habs have been weak on, as he’s 57.5% this season on faceoffs and has been over 50% in 4 of the final 5 years.
To accumulate him from a workforce that’s in a freefall might not take far more than a mid-round decide, probably a lower-end prospect. The Sabres are on the cusp of needing to try to restart their rebuild, so including picks could be a necessity.
The Canadiens are a workforce constructed for the playoffs with the scale and energy on the blueline, a system constructed for prime amount pictures at five-on-five hockey. That being stated, it is a lineup on the bubble of constructing or lacking the playoffs and might want to transfer quickly so as to add the required depth in key spots to assist get them into that extremely coveted playoff place. If the workforce misses, Bergevin could be the subsequent member of administration to be fired, making this commerce deadline a make or break time for his retool plan and probably his job.
I’ve been a author overlaying the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens for over 6 years. I’m additionally at present a 27+ yr veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces