Grenville-sur-la-Rouge - So it's that time of the year again when all hell breaks loose in the National Hockey League. Most of the league's teams begin pulling the trigger on deals that they feel upgrade their situation. In most cases general managers follow each other by trying to keep up with one another.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers have been the most active teams over the last few days. Well, few hours for the Panthers. Both teams made huge improvements to their teams.
The Blackhawks have added top-six depth when they landed Andrew Ladd (one of the most coveted free agents on July 1) from Winnipeg. Along with the acquistition of Ladd, they’ve since added depth in their bottom-six, when they traded for the Montreal duo of Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Wise. Christian Erhoff also comes over from Los Angeles to round out the Hawks’ defensive core. With all of the moves, it really looks like that this team will make another grand run at the Stanley Cup for what is like the sixth year in a row. Sigh...
Florida has also made key moves that just might push them into the same conversation as a team like the Washington Capitals. So far GM Dale Tallon has acquired forwards Teddy Purcell and Jiri Hudler, and defenseman Jakub Kindl. Mix those players with the young core they already have, they look like they'll have a strong enough team to not only compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but make a push beyond the first round.
Now to the Montreal Canadiens. For as long I can remember the team never made a major move really improved their team drastically. For example, the Canadiens have three glaring needs - a number one centre, depth on defense and a top-six right winger. The only time Marc Bergervin made drastic improvements was last year's deadline when he shipped picks to Edmonton for Jeff Petry, and in 2014 when he sent Sebastian Collberg and a second round pick to the New York Islanders for Thomas Vanek (who didn't work out).
So far this season, Bergevin has added these pieces to the Canadiens mix:
Additions: Lucas Lessio, Victor Bartley, John Scott (St. Johns), Ben Scrivens, Vancouver's 2016 5th round pick, Chicago's 2nd round pick in 2018, Max Friberg, Phillip Danault.
Subtractions: Brandon Prust, Zack Kassian, Jarred Tinordi, Stefan Fournier, Dustin Tokarski, Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise, Christian Th
I’d like to present a couple logical scenarios that the Canadiens could potentially explore through trade.
The Habs have expressed a tremendous amount of interest in Oiler’s winger Nail Yakupov. The former first overall pick in 2013 has yet to live up to the team’s expectations of him.
One thing that the Oilers would benefit from if the Canadiens became a potential trade destination for Yak, is that the Habs would be willing to deal Lars Eller. There have been rumbling across the league for the last couple of weeks that Edmonton, among other teams have interest in acquiring the defensive-minded centreman. Eller would be just what the Oilers need.
To MTL: RW Nail Yakupov, C Mark Letestu, 4th round pick in 2017, 6th round pick in 2018
To EDM: C Lars Eller, D Alexei Emelin, RW Bryan Flynn, conditional second round pick depending on the performance of Yakupov.
There is no question that the Canadiens would not mind moving Andrei Markov. In fact the team even tried to do so a few times last season. At one point there was even rumoured to be a deal in place that would have seen the veteran-defenseman traded to Pittsburgh for defenseman Simon Despres and a second round pick. Now it is less likely that Markov will fetch a second rounder due to his age and performance of late. Nonetheless, Markov is still a leader on the team and has produced 33 points thus far. One thing against Markov other than his age is the fact that he is currently making $5,750,000 this season and he becomes a UFA at the end of the year. That being said, Markov maybe has a few years left in him and management should look at trading him to a cup contender out of respect for the 37-year-old.
To MTL: Anaheim’s 3rd round pick in 2017, and 4th round pick in 2018. *MTL retains 30% of Markov’s remaining salary.
To ANA: Andrei Markov
To MTL: D Xavier Ouellet, 4th round pick in 2018.
*MTL retains 30% of Markov’s remaining salary.
To DET: Andrei Markov
Montreal has expressed interest in plenty of players across the league but I can’t see any moves being very imminent at this time. If the team is looking to acquire something that will change the look of the immideiate team, then it is not going to come over the next two days. Expect Marc Bergevin to be active, like he has been, with shopping his UFAs. Although the only UFAs that are gaining a little bit of interest are Andrei Markov and what was Tom Gilbert before he got injured and underwent season-endning knee surgery.
Aside from the UFAs, Lars Eller, Nathan Beaulieu and Alex Galchenyuk’s names have reportedly been out there. At this time, I cannot see neither Galchenyuk or Beaulieu being dealt. Galchenyuk’s recent performance of late will keep the Canadiens scratching their heads on whether or not he will ever live up to his potential in Montreal. With Markov’s contract up at the end of the season the Habs shouldn’t even consider trading one of its best puck movers in Nathan Bealieu. But that’s just my two cents.