While the Habs returned to practice this week,
it was business as usual for the Hamilton Bulldogs as they won all three of
their games. In this week’s HW Recap, the focus is on the deadline as the
final parts of the HW Deadline Preview are included; trade ratings for the
Bulldogs who’ve played with the Habs this year as well as a listing of 10
players making under $1 million that the Habs either have shown interest in or
may be showing interest in before Wednesday’s deadline.
No power rankings this week as Montreal once again didn’t play, this will return
next week. In the meantime, the 5 Habs at the Olympics have either
returned home or will be doing so soon. See how they did in our
The 10-game homestand continues to be a winning
one as the Bulldogs won all 3 games running their record during this stretch to
3 Stars: 1) Pacioretty – HAM 2) Sanford – HAM 3) Scott –
3 Stars: 1) Maxwell – HAM 2) Russell – HAM 3) Gratchev –
3 Stars: 1) Subban – HAM 2) Desharnais – HAM 3) Glumac –
Max Pacioretty returned to the lineup this week
after missing a couple weeks with a shoulder injury and made an immediate impact
with 3 points in his first game back.
|32||Frederic St. Denis||2||0||1||+4||1||4|
Goals: Brock Trotter (28)
Assists: David Desharnais (37)
Points: Brock Trotter (61)
+/-: P.K. Subban (+34)
PIMS: Ryan White (111)
Shots: Mike Glumac (152)
Adirondack vs Hamilton
March 5: Chicago vs Hamilton
March 6: Hartford vs Hamilton
As was done for the first two parts of the HW
Trade Deadline Preview, the Bulldog players will receive a rating between 1-10
on the potential likelihood of being moved, based on a combination of
performance, perceived interest elsewhere, and where they appear to fit within
the organizational depth chart as of today. Rather than cover the entire
team, this will be restricted to the players who’ve actually played with the
Habs this season (there certainly are enough of them).
Ben Maxwell: 5
– With the emergence of White and Pyatt this season plus Swedish prospect
Andreas Engqvist waiting in the wings, there’s a logjam in terms of prospect C’s
in the organization. Unfortunately for Maxwell, he appears to be headed
down the list. He’s looked decent in his two career callups and has an NHL
future. Still on his entry-level deal, he might be a piece to any sort of
upgrade the Habs try to make before Wednesday.
J.T. Wyman: 4 – He was surprisingly
recalled early in the season but did not leave the greatest of impressions.
He just turned 24 on Saturday so time is starting to run out for him. He’s
a versatile winger who can also play D, which is the type of depth prospect
every team would like to have a couple more of and could be a small piece in a
Gregory Stewart: 3 – He, like
D’Agostini has one thing going for him, a very cheap cap hit (at the league
minimum). He has some NHL experience and hasn’t complained about sitting
for long stretches in the past. These are about the only things going for
him though considering he cleared waivers earlier this season. As a
throw-in, he could interest a team or two, but I’d go as far as saying he has a
better shot at returning to Montreal rather than going elsewhere.
Brock Trotter: 3 – He’s been a
revelation in Hamilton this season as the team’s top scorer for most of it.
He also didn’t look too out of place in his brief recall on Super Bowl weekend.
His situation reminds me a lot of Jozef Balej years ago where he was a key piece
in the Alexei Kovalev acquisition. Are the Habs willing to part with him
though? I’m not sure they’re actively shopping him, but they wouldn’t be
too upset if he had to go to get a deal done.
Max Pacioretty: 3 – Rumoured to be
part of the never ending Alexander Frolov discussion, he’s finally starting to
find his way in Hamilton after struggling upon his demotion initially.
He’s developed slower than most of us have hoped but there’s still lots of
upside to his game which means there should numerous inquiries about his
availability elsewhere. Unless a core piece is coming back to Montreal
though, he likely won’t be on the move.
David Desharnais: 2.5 – Played well in
his 6 games with Montreal so far, especially on the powerplay. However, at
just 5’6, size is certainly a concern, though he won’t shy away from physical
contact. But to a lot of teams, a player his size is too small for their
liking, so the interest from other teams will be lower than what it should be
considering Desharnais’ success this season.
Tom Pyatt: 2 – I feel a little
vindicated by his play so far this year as I was one of the few who were saying
he had some NHL potential in him. With that out of the way now, he’s
quickly become a favourite of Jacques Martin, evidenced by the fact he was
called back to Montreal early Sunday. Though the offensive touch hasn’t
been there in the NHL yet, he’s played well in his own end and doesn’t get
caught out of place often. He appears to be a building block for the
future, which lowers his chances of being dealt.
Ryan White: 2 – Another of Martin’s
favourites, he has one element that can’t be said for most of Montreal’s
prospects – he has size and he’s willing to use it. His performance in the
NHL this year has been an eye opener and assuredly teams will be inquiring about
him. Though his ceiling is likely nothing more than a 3rd liner, he’s
another player who appears to now be a building block moving forward with the
4 – Played relatively well in 3 games in
Montreal and was having a strong season in Hamilton before once again getting
derailed by the injury bug as a shoulder injury has ended his season. He’s
done enough to show he’s a legitimate prospect which means a few teams may be
willing to wait for him and there may some motivation on GM Pierre Gauthier’s
part to move him as he’ll have to clear waivers starting next season.
Yannick Weber: 3.5 – He’s struggled
this year, but a lot of that can be attributed to the sophomore jinx that
plagues all sorts of prospects throughout the league. He got better as the
Olympics went on which bodes well for his immediate trade prospects.
Though many fans seem willing to write him off, I’m not so sure the Habs’ brass
are as anxious to do so. Though he could easily be moved in a bigger deal,
he’s still a part of this team’s future and as such won’t be dealt for merely a
Shawn Belle: 3 – Steady as she goes
best describes his play, particularly with the Bulldogs so far this year, though
he played well in a pair of games in Montreal. A team looking for a
competent emergency recall defender with some NHL experience would be wise to
inquire about him, especially considering there’s still a little bit of upside.
It’s this same reason though why I think the Habs would be reluctant to part
with him unless absolutely necessary.
P.K. Subban: 1 – Though I could
probably get away with writing nothing here and no one would question this
rating, here I go anyways. He’s progressed well after a slow start with
Hamilton and showed some great signs in a pair of games vs the Flyers. He
still needs a lot of work defensively, but there’s no doubt he’s a big part of
the team’s future and it would require some kind of deal to entice the Habs to
part with him.
The only goalie to dress for Hamilton this year
who also has been up with the Habs is actually Robert Mayer, who is likely the
only goalie who could be moved right about now and even then I’d put the odds
quite low. In the event that one of Halak/Price are moved, either Cedrick
Desjardins or Curtis Sanford would be brought to Montreal to back up whoever’s
left while the other would take over as #1. If everything stays status quo
with the Habs’ netminders, then keeping the Bulldog goalies together will be an
important part of what should be a long Calder Cup run in Hamilton. I’d be
stunned to see a goalie out of this bunch moved right about now.
Rather than get into all sorts of talk about
big name players who the Habs may possibly have inquired on (before realizing
that the cap stands in the way), I’ve decided to focus on more cost effective
role players. These players may not be the most appealing to most, but
they would fit a specific role on this team and have a cap hit at or less than
$1 million. The Habs have kicked the tire on some of these players already
and I would suspect they’ll inquire about some of the others here as well,
depending on what other moves, if any, they have in mind.
F Maxim Afinogenov, Atlanta – He’s had a strong season offensively (46
points in 60 games) and would add some speed and skill to the offence. At
$800,000 and a rental, there’s no long term cap implications either. Of
the players to come on this least though, Afinogenov will probably be the
hardest to acquire.
Key stat: 27 assists which would place him 3rd on Montreal.
D Shane Hnidy, Minnesota – I stated in Part 1 of the HW Deadline
Preview that I expect Paul Mara to be moved because his salary is too costly for
a 7th d-man. At $750,000, Hnidy’s a lot cheaper while bringing similar
defensive elements to the table.
Key stat: 64 PIMS, the most amongst Wild defencemen.
F Jean-François Jacques, Edmonton – The Habs need toughness in a big
way which is Jacques’ strength. He’s not a big fighter but rather brings
to the table what Hab fans expect out of Travis Moen. With a cap hit of
$525,000 and a pending RFA, he’ll have multiple suitors this deadline.
Key stat: 158 hits, which is 52
more than the second closest player on the Oilers.
F Tom Kostopoulos, Carolina – What do the Habs need more of right
now? Effort and grit. What does he bring? Effort and grit,
plus familiarity with the players and the organization. Having 2 years
left on his deal may scare the Habs away though.
Key stat: +2 rating, tied for 3rd best with Carolina.
D Freddy Meyer, New York I – Another cheap, expiring defenceman who
in the past brought some offense to the table as well. Now though, he’s a
stay at home player who plays with a physical edge, two good elements of any
Key stat: Averaging more than 2.3
hits per game, 2nd on the Isles.
D Matt Niskanen, Dallas – I put him here solely for the fact that the
Habs have shown enough interest in him in the past to warrant being mentioned.
He’s a young, developing, cheap defender but has struggled offensively after a
35 point effort last season.
Key stat: 16 PIMS, the fewest of any regular Dallas defenceman.
F Richard Park, New York I – A decent defensive forward (at least on
the PK) that typically puts up double digit goals (has done so the last 3
years). He has an expiring contract, makes just $750,000 and would fit in
well if the team goes towards bringing in better skaters.
Key stat: -20 rating, he’s
certainly struggled as this is worst on the Isles.
D Jason Strudwick, Edmonton – A true defensive defenceman, offense is
not his forte as he has just 4 assists in 51 contests this year. What he
brings to the table is a willingness to do all the little things, particularly
when it comes to blocking shots. At $700,000 and expiring, he’d be a
respectable stop-gap 7th d-man.
Key stat: 98 blocked shots which would place him in Montreal’s top-5.
D Darryl Sydor, St. Louis – He’s been the odd man out at times on the
Blues’ blueline, but it’s this time of the year where having a veteran presence
in the lineup becomes all that much more important. He’s a steady
defensive defender, though he doesn’t provide the physical presence that some of
the other d-men here do.
Key stat: 1.9 blocks per game,
best on St. Louis.
F Stephane Veilleux, Tampa Bay – There were quiet rumblings that the
Habs inquired about him as a free agent this offseason so I figure he’s worth
noting here despite a not so impressive season. He’s a local depth player
who can at times provide a physical edge, sort of reminds me of Mathieu Darche
Key stat: +10 TK/GV ratio, tops
on the Lightning.
Overall, unless the Habs make a move (and Tom Pyatt’s surprising early
recall may be a sign of a deal), there’s not a lot of money to spend; in fact
there’s less now as a result the call up. Thus, these are the types of
players that may be coveted by management as low risk moves that fill a void on