Part two of our deadline preview series focuses on the goaltenders and
defencemen. Some are expecting Marc Bergevin to make a move to shore up
the blueline, the question becomes will one of the Habs’ current defenders be
heading the other way? Might the team be looking to try to upgrade the
backup goalie position as well?
Please note that all odds are independent of each other. In other words,
if someone gets dealt from the above list, all other odds basically get thrown out the
Peter Budaj: 15%: Although many wanted to see the Slovak out of town
early on in the season after a pair of subpar efforts, that’s not the case now.
Budaj has won his last four starts, allowing all of six goals in those games.
The team has also started to look more comfortable playing in front of him
compared to earlier on in the season. The only way I could see Bergevin
moving him is if the decision on his future has already been made for next year
(that he isn’t returning) and an equally capable backup becomes readily
available. I don’t see that happening.
Carey Price: 0.1%: There’s no way that Price gets dealt, even if he
isn’t having as strong of a season as some would have hoped so far (and even
then, he’s having a pretty good year). He’s one of the cornerstone pieces
for this franchise; the only reason he doesn’t get a 0% is because after getting
burned once years ago when a player with 0% odds got dealt, I no longer give
Yannick Weber: 35%: I’d like to go higher here as I think regardless
of whether or not he’s dealt, he’s in his last months with the organization but
given his recent injury and the fact he has been a frequent healthy scratch, I’m not sure
there will be any suitors for him. Presuming he’s healthy by the deadline
(he’s skating so he should be), he could be included in a
minor deal, whether it’s for a rental player or a late round pick.
Raphael Diaz: 15%: I admit this may be a bit of a stretch (it’s no fun
to assign everyone really low odds though) but if the decision is made to add
some more size for the postseason, Diaz could find himself on the outside
looking in despite his strong start to the year. It’s that strong start
though that will boost his value around the league – provided he’s ready to
return to the lineup by the deadline. If they were to move him, his value
probably wouldn’t be much higher later than it is now.
Tomas Kaberle: 15%: Yes, we all know his contract is untradeable in
terms of trying to bring back a player of value. But, he could be moved
for an equally bad contract that would be bought out (using Montreal’s second of
two compliance buyouts) in a ‘change of scenery’ type of move. Beyond that
though, I don’t foresee there being any sort of market for him.
Josh Gorges: 10%: Given that Bergevin dealt Erik Cole earlier this
season for what many think was largely for financial reasons, it can’t be
summarily ruled out that he wouldn’t be traded if they are looking to free up
money for another move down the road. However, his play has improved
lately since being paired up with Subban and he is considered to be one of the
leaders on this team. I would really be surprised if he was on another
team after the deadline.
Alexei Emelin: 10%: If the Habs had an award for Most Improved Player,
he’d have a very good chance of winning it. He and Markov have formed a
strong defensive pairing while Emelin has provided a strong physical presence on
the blueline. That’s why other teams would love to get him…and why
Montreal will want to keep him.
Francis Bouillon: 5%: The fact that he signed an extension just last
week suggests he is in the plans for next season. Of course plans can
change with the course of a phone call or two with another GM but I think it’s
pretty safe to say he’ll be patrolling the blueline at the Bell Centre past
Andrei Markov: 1%: He has shown that he can still be a top pairing
defenceman and that he has the trust of the coaching staff to log heavy minutes
in any situation. His injury prone label doesn’t help his value so the
Habs wouldn’t get the overpayment that would be required to convince them to
move him. He’ll be sticking around.
P.K. Subban: 0.1%: Like Price, he’s a cornerstone piece for the
franchise. Unlike Price, he isn’t signed long-term but that should be
taken care of in the not-too-distant future, perhaps as early as his offseason.
He will be staying put.
It would be too difficult to hypothesize odds for the unsigned prospects
but here are a few that would have some value around the league and thus could
be in play.
Mac Bennett: He just completed his junior season at Michigan and is expected
to return for his senior season. He’s a smooth skating blueliner with a
good first pass, both elements that more and more teams seem to covet. A
3rd rounder in 2009, Bennett has played well enough to boost his value since
Magnus Nygren: After a very shaky season in 2011-12, the 22 year SEL
defenceman had a strong 2012-13 campaign and was awarded the Borje Salming award
for best defenceman in the league. He certainly wouldn’t be the
centrepiece of a trade (the fact he’s staying in Sweden next year will lower his
value a little) but his offensive abilities and improved defensive game will
have some GM’s interested.
Dalton Thrower: Although he had a bit of a disappointing year with Saskatoon,
he still has upside as a two-way defenceman that will play with an edge.
Of the three defencemen in this category, I think he would be the most likely to
be moved. A looming Memorial Cup appearance might help his value a tad as