On Wednesday, we took a closer look at which defencemen and goalies could be
moved from the Habs and who could be targeted. Today, the focus shifts up
front, where there are a lot more names in play, from Canadiens that could be
dealt to players on the trading block elsewhere. What needs can be filled,
who could go?
Andrei Kostitsyn – 50%: If the Habs are going to move a forward from
their top-6 to bring in another top-6 guy, it’s most likely going to be him.
There’s no denying his raw talent, that alone will have a few teams kicking the
tires on his availability. He’s in an iffy zone for next season too as his
qualifying offer will be for $3.25 million. At his current pace, should
the Habs qualify him or let him walk? If they’re planning the latter,
he’ll all but assuredly be dealt.
Tom Pyatt – 30%: He’s a cheap role player which every team thinks they
need more of at deadline time. Yes, he isn’t the same player he was last
year but he’s still quite effective on the penalty kill, is fast, and still
young. I don’t think he has much, if any value alone but as a throw-in, he
might catch the attention of a few teams. If not, depending on what
happens (if the Habs bring in someone making a decent chunk of change), his name
may hit the waiver wire to free up a little cap space.
David Desharnais – 25%: He is raising his trade value basically with
every game. Although he has played well, the Habs’ regular top-2 centres (Plekanec,
Gomez) still have several years on their contracts; is there room for him
long-term? If not, then he could be used as a trade chip to bring in some
more help now.
Travis Moen – 20%: He’s a favourite of Jacques Martin but suffice it
to say, he hasn’t done what the Habs brought him in to do, be a physical
presence. His $1.5 million ticket for next season could be cumbersome
depending on what they’re trying to do now and budget for later. The fact
he has a Cup ring also will have some teams calling on him. If the roster
stays similar to as it is now, I think he’ll stay but if Pierre Gauthier does
try and shake things up, he could be moved.
Lars Eller – 15%: Despite his overall struggles, he has shown some
flashes that he’s going to be a quality NHL’er for years to come. Don’t
think the other GM’s haven’t seen those either. Eller is still young
enough to be considered a core piece in any offer. Though some may think
Gauthier won’t move him as doing so would be admitting error, that’s not
necessarily the case. Moving him on for a better fit doesn’t mean he was
wrong to acquire Eller, just that the other player fits in better, nothing more
to it than that.
Benoit Pouliot – 15%: Since being placed with Desharnais, his game has
taken off to the point where he is playing his best hockey of the season.
Like with Kostitsyn, the raw talent is there and talent alone will have some
teams calling about his availability. Heading into next season, his
contract is going to become a little pricey for a 3rd liner (around the $2
million range). If that concerns the Habs, they may be looking to deal him
now while his value is higher.
Mathieu Darche – 15%: He has tailed off lately after a strong first
half of the season. However, the fact he at worst is cheap depth means
that he brings some value to the Habs no matter what. If the Habs target
an offensive forward, he could be part of a return going the other way to give
the trading team basically a short-term stopgap plug.
Jeff Halpern – 10%: This is the type of player every team covets, good
on the draw, plays the penalty kill, good in the room, cheap contract, playoff
experience, I could go on. I certainly don’t think he’s being actively
shopped but given the fact some teams are overpaying now to get what they want,
I could see the Habs getting an offer that frankly would be too good to turn
Scott Gomez – 10%: His struggles this season will likely have Gauthier
pondering what type of market there might be out there. I don’t think he’s
actively being shopped like some are suggesting, nor would the Habs dump him for
nothing, they will want a player or two in return that can help the team.
I think a couple of teams will be inquiring though it’s still unlikely they’ll
be able to reach a trade.
Mike Cammalleri – 5%: He is still the Habs’ biggest threat to score
when he’s on the ice which makes it hard to imagine that the Habs would deal
him. The fact he’s coming back from his second injury of the season may
very well scare off most, if not all of the teams that may have been inquiring
Max Pacioretty – 5%: I don’t think he’s the pure untouchable some are
suggesting he should be but he’s not that far from it. He finally has
emerged into the offensive player most expected him to be, though he isn’t yet
the physical forward the Habs so desperately need. He’d require quite the
overpayment to get, but he’s not untouchable.
Brian Gionta – 1%: He has been a little streaky in the goal department
but still has a shot at getting 30. From all accounts, he’s been a good
leader on and off the ice, meaning the Habs would have little interest or reason
to trade him at this time.
Tomas Plekanec – 1%: He’s the team’s leading point getter and in year
1 of 6, the longest term in the Canadiens’ modern day history. They made a
commitment to him and it’s really hard to envision a scenario where they’d try
and move him so soon. Never say never, but saying it’s highly unlikely
he’ll be dealt would probably be an understatement.
Please note that all odds are independent of each other. In other
words, if someone gets dealt from the above list, all odds basically get thrown
out the window. Also, though Ryan White is currently with the Canadiens,
he will appear in the prospects preview next week.
Names to Ponder:
Unlike the defencemen, several of these forwards won’t fit into the Habs’
remaining cap space (just under $2.8 million currently but this figure has
changed several times in less than a week) so there would have to to be players either
dealt or sent down to make room. The Habs have a few needs up front, the
below list of players reflects that – some are well rounded scorers, others
Brad Boyes – St. Louis: The Habs were linked to him a couple of years ago
and for good reason as at that time he was coming off a 40+ goal campaign.
Since then he has struggled though as he is on pace for a second straight season
with under 20 tallies. It’s believed a change of scenery could do him some
good, perhaps playing alongside Plekanec or Gomez could get him going again.
However, the Habs can’t take him on straight up due to salary issues.
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12 with a $4 million cap hit, a
J.P. Dumont – Nashville: Yes, we’re all aware of his struggles but like
Boyes above (and several others on this list), a change of scenery would likely
jumpstart his performance, at least in the short-term. Because he has slid
down the Predators’ depth chart, the cost to acquire him likely would be cheaper
than some others in this list. It should be noted that he has a full no-move
clause so there’s no guarantee he’d accept a deal to Montreal if one was
reached. Early reports suggest he would need some encouragement to accept
a trade anywhere.
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12 with a $4 million cap hit and
NMC, a UFA after.
Kristian Huselius – Columbus: The Habs reportedly are interested in the
former 77-point winger who is having a rough time with the Jackets this season
due to injuries and being scratched the odd night. Still, he has a
legitimate chance of hitting the 20-goal plateau for the 5th straight season, a
trait most Habs don’t currently have. His contract is a little hefty so at
least one player would have to go back to Columbus to make this work under the
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12 with a $4.75 million cap hit, a
Tomas Kopecky – Chicago: Kopecky is in the midst of a career season with
the Blackhawks and given their cap situation, he’s pricing himself out of
re-signing in the process. He is a quality role player and at 6’3 would
bring some needed size to the lineup. He also has won the Stanley Cup in
each of the last two seasons (08-09 in DET, last year with CHI); having another
veteran who has been through the long runs before is always handy.
Contract Status: A pending UFA with a $1.2 million cap hit.
Antti Miettinen – Minnesota: He isn’t the most flashy player offensively but
he is good for 35-40 points per season while playing a quality defensive game.
He also has played with a pair of current Habs in Plekanec and Kostitsyn back in
Hamilton when Dallas shared the Bulldogs with the Canadiens. He wouldn’t be
more than a 2nd liner with the Habs (and perhaps a really good 3rd) but the fact
he can play the PK means he can spell some of the regulars to keep their minutes
Contract Status: A pending UFA with a $2,333,333 cap hit.
Chris Neil – Ottawa: There’s a risk in trading for him due to the
division factor that some teams abide by and the fact his offensive game has
basically died this season. However, his physical presence is still
intimidating and he remains a decent enough overall player to take a regular
shift. The thing is, how much extra might the Habs have to pay to convince
the Sens to move him to their rival?
Contract Status: Under contract through 2012-13 with a $2 million cap
Cory Stillman – Florida: Stillman has been dealt at the deadline a couple
times already and has fared well in both instances. Overall, he has an
impressive 82 games of playoff experience under his belt. Performance
wise, injuries and age have slowed him down over the last few seasons but he
still producing at about a half point-per-game pace. With Florida in
seller mode and Stillman’s UFA status, expect him to be on the move by the
Contract Status: A pending UFA with a cap hit of $3,533,333.
Chris Thorburn – Atlanta: The downside of putting the names in
alphabetical order is that the least exciting name goes last but that isn’t to
say he wouldn’t be a beneficial pickup. He has size (6’3), grit, and is
able to log significant shorthanded minutes. He’s also average on the draw
for a winger. He’s nothing more than a 4th liner but he would be able to
bring some elements this team needs.
Contract Status: A pending UFA with a cap hit of $660,000.
Part 3 of this 3-piece series will appear Wednesday, taking a look at some of
the Bulldogs (what’s left of them) and some unsigned prospects that could be
offered up as trade bait.