The NHL Trade Deadline is one week away and even though I would have like to post this a week ago there has been some movement in the standings and ways teams have played that will give some more information as to what teams will do. (The expansion draft will have an impact on this trading season, most likely making it a lot slower than years past, albeit the last two years were pretty slow)
Let’s start right at the top of the standings with the Montreal Canadiens: Buyers
Draft Pick Assets:
2017: 1st-5th with an additional 2nd from Washington
2018: 1st-7th with two additional 2nds (Chicago and Washington)
After firing head coach Michel Therrien the Habs are now led by Stanley Cup winning and recently fired former head coach of the Boston Bruins: Claude Julien. After losing to the Jets 3-1 Mon had an impressive win Tuesday against the NY Rangers, to stay atop the Atlantic Division. As of right now they are 13th in G/game and 8th in GA/game. As noted with the Shea Weber for PK Subban trade and the head coaching decisions clearly the Habs are all in on this year and next, the question isn’t just should the Habs add at the deadline but where and how much.
Goaltending is set with one of, if not the, the best goaltenders in the world in Carey Price.
Pictured below making a phenomenal save against the rangers, Price this year has been a disappointment with a league average .918 SV%. If Price regains his ’13-’16 form then watch out.
If goaltending is not the issue then what is? Well it could be the lack of depth at the forward level or it could be the defensive side of the puck.
Montreal is led by Max Pacioretty who is their star winger, with 52 points in 60 games.
Galchenyuk is their top center-man but has dealt with some injuries. Despite the injuries he has 29 points in just 39 games.
Montreal made two Forward acquisitions this past year Andrew Shaw signed from Chicago and Alexander Radulov signed from the KHL. Shaw has been is old sean-avery equse self while Radulov has surprised with no temper-tantrums and sports 42 points in 58 games.
Phillip Danault is a young center who they acquired in a deal with Chicago last year at the trade deadline and has made his prescense felt with 31 points so far this year
Montreal’s other top forward is Tomas Plekanec who has had somewhat of a down year with only 23 points so far.
There has been rumblings that the Habs want to go after Landeskog or Duchene of Colorado but they may not have the cap space to do so. Projected to have 4MM in deadline cap space would mean that COL would have to take back salary in any type of deal. The price would have to be high as well possibly costing the star RW/C Michael McCarron.
Personally, I do not see a deal getting done hear.
Defensively the Habs are not that strong. They boast the 8th best GA/game metric but watching them play it seems like they get bailed out by Carey Price.
They obviously have star Shea Weber but besides that they have an aging Andrei Markov, an overpaid Jeff Petry (who isn’t that bad) and Alexei Emelin who is serviceable but has his own defensive breakdowns.
Now with all that being said let us get to what everyone (no one) came here for, trade targets:
Tomas Vanek: Having a resurgence with Detroit and on pace for 66 points Vanek is going to be a hot commodity if DET decides to sell (which they should). Vanek has a cheap contract and has bounced around because he can score but also is sometimes either a defensive liability or out of focus. His cap of 2.6MM fits nicely within the Habs cap issues with the only issue being the cost, in this sellers market. (Vanek actually looking at the puck this time)
Brian Boyle: Tampa Bay is faltering and has had a rash of injuries this year. Boyle is in the last year of his contract and could net a mid round return. He is a Center who can play the PK, get physical in the playoffs, can score the timely goal, and won’t cost a lot.
Matt Duchene: Would be a great pickup and give the Habs great center depth to go with Pitt/Wash/NYR in the playoffs. The issue as stated above is the cap hit and the high cost. I would suggest that Montreal go for it since they made the PK trade. Duchene will cost a lot in terms of talent and picks though.
Kevin Shattenkirk: Shatty is going to be the #1 talked about trade chip this trading season. He is a high quality offensive defenseman who doesn’t get caught in his own zone too often. He is set to be a UFA so his price will be dampened unless a deal can be worked out. Shattenkirk would fit well with Montreal as they could use another defensemen and Shatty is the top one on the market. He would most likely cost a prospect plus a 1st round pick. The blues are playing much better since giving Mike Yeo the reigns so this will be an interesting situation to monitor, but on Wednesday I expect to hear Montreal in on the bidding for Shattenkirk.
If the Habs land Duchene then they better get in on the bidding w/ Shattenkirk because if they really are trying to go for it then half measures will surely doom them. They have a limited timeframe to win a cup and will go up against 2 of the top 5 teams in the league just to get to the Stanley Cup Finals.
TL:DR The Habs have good forwards, a phenomenal defenseman, and one of the best goaltenders in the world. They need to go out and shore up the depth and maybe add another top defenseman if they want to make waves in the playoffs. They should target Tomas Vanek or Brian Boyle up front but if they really want to get frisky go after both Matt Duchene and Shattenkirk.