Trade discussion is always an area that gets people talking, no matter what
time of year it is. Who should be dealt, who is available from other
teams? In our latest instalment of WWI, we take a slightly different look
at this topic. Instead of focusing on which Montreal players should
be traded, we’re making our predictions as to which ones will be on the
move by the deadline.
To try to vary the predictions (and test our ability to project how the
season would go), our writers were asked this question just after the beginning
of the year.
Matt Dilworth: As I believe that the Habs will be contending
for a playoff spot this year, I doubt that Marc Bergevin will be entering “Sell
Mode” at the Trade Deadline, and thus believe that the roster will remain
largely intact. That being said, if not for a slew of injuries on defence,
Montreal would have a surplus on the blueline, and it seems likeliest that one
of the D would be on the move.
Assuming everyone is healthy, I think Raphael Diaz could be on the trading
block. He is not without skill, and many teams could be on the market for
an offensive-minded defenceman, especially if he can get inflated numbers
if/when Montreal’s powerplay starts producing. Diaz is a UFA at seasons’
end, and is unlikely to be considered a priority by Bergevin, especially with
Nathan Beaulieu under contract. Beaulieu could easily replace Diaz’s
contributions after some more AHL seasoning, and should more than likely provide
more physicality and offensive upside. But as last year demonstrated, team
depth is key once injuries start mounting, and I can only see Bergevin trading
Diaz if the price is right.
Luca LaPorta: I think that after the deadline, Andrei Markov
will no longer be a Hab. Markov is getting slower and slower every game,
you can see it when he is playing 5-on-5 and especially on the powerplay and the
penalty kill. He can’t keep up with the speed now in the game and he
really isn’t all that valuable anymore. Come trade deadline time, teams with
good chances of making the playoffs might want Markov as a rental player for the
playoff run. If Markov goes, the Habs could get a 2nd or 3rd round pick
and maybe a prospect from the acquiring team to continue to stockpile young
Brian La Rose: For me, the most likely to be moved is Rene
Bourque. With a couple more years on his deal at a reasonable amount
($3.33 M), it’s not too big of a contract to scare potential suitors away.
Bourque’s role has dropped to the point where he is a bit overpaid for the role
he has when he’s healthy. As a result, the Habs will likely look to see if
they can get a cheaper replacement to help offset the expected raises to several
of the clubs’ pending free agents. Another option is to include him for a
rental upgrade should the team still be in the playoff hunt come early March.
Or, if they’re out of contention, he’s one of the names that will come up as the
team tries to sell. Whichever way you slice it, he’s a prime candidate to
Matt Macaskill: I don’t believe Raphael Diaz will be with the
team by the time that the deadline rolls around. While it’s difficult to come by
puck moving defencemen, Montreal has one waiting in the wings in Nathan
Beaulieu. Furthermore, Diaz will be a UFA at season’s end. With P.K. Subban,
Lars Eller, and Alexei Emelin all expecting or already receiving raises, as well as considerations to
be made about retaining Brian Gionta and Andrei Markov, I believe Diaz will be
the odd man out. Rather than lose him for nothing as a UFA, I expect Marc
Bergevin to deal him before the trade deadline in return for a playoff run
upgrade or asset for the future.
Kevin Meldrum: If the deal is there for a top four defenceman,
I believe Tomas Plekanec will be traded for sure if they are out of the playoff
picture come trade deadline time.
Norm Szcyrek: None. I believe the Habs will be in the playoff
race at the trade deadline, and when the team is in that position they are
buyers not sellers. I’ll predict the will look to add a rental veteran
player of some kind, but it remains to be seen what area of weakness they will
be looking to shore up by then.
Our posters on the
were also asked to offer up their thoughts on who the Habs will move between now
and the deadline.
DON: Just Dumont will be gone, spare part for a spare part at
Neech: The biggest piece I could see being moved is Bourque, if
he doesn’t work his way back into an effective role. This could be problematic
in that he’s one of the few forwards with size that we have, but it might be
similar to the Cole situation in getting out of contract before it becomes a cap
The Chicoutimi Cucumber: Moen and Bourque are interesting and
not-implausible candidates. But one can only ponder with amazement the scenario
of the Habs getting even SMALLER and less physically robust at the deadline. At
least in the case of Bourque, you can make an argument that he hardly ever uses
his size to advantage. So of the two, I’d see Bourque being the guy Bergevin
tries hardest to move, though a deal for Moen would surely be easier to make.
comfortablyHABS: I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of
shipping out Diaz + someone like Moen to get a player that can add substantial
size to the roster.
Trizzak: Assuming we’re buyers, just look to last year’s
postseason and specifically towards who showed up and who didn’t, and you’ll see
who Bergevin is looking to ship out: Diaz & Desharnais. Maybe Moen, maybe
Gorges. I’d say Bouillon, but probably not… they’ll want to give that
diminutive geezer a shot at a cup.
Stogey24: Philly was a team that had interest in Beaulieu when
Montreal drafted him. I could see him being put in a package deal.