As the March 5 3 p.m. EST NHL trade deadline approaches, we’re taking a look at the Habs trade targets. Today’s focus is on the forward position. A number of high profile names have surfaced, among them being Thomas Vanek, Ryan Kesler, Marian Gaborik, Mike Cammalleri, and Martin St. Louis. But for various reasons, neither of these players cracked my list.
When looking over the available forwards and considering Habs GM Marc Bergevin’s management style, I came to two conclusions concerning the Canadiens’ trade targets: 1) they’ve got size; 2) they’re signed beyond this season or there’s potential to re-sign them.
The list features a trio of Sabres and a pair of Predators. So if I’m Marc Bergevin, I’ve got two phone numbers on speed dial while kicking tires with the New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers.
RW Drew Stafford (BUF): He has played his entire career in Buffalo and has another year remaining on his contract. The Sabres won’t be in a rush to move him. While the cost may be high to acquire him, Stafford is a player entering the prime of his NHL career. With a full year to work on a contract extension, Marc Bergevin may be willing to part with some assets to get a deal done.
Contract Status: $4,000,000 through to 2014-15, 28-years old, 6’2, 214lbs.
Stats: 52 GP, 10 G, 14 A, -10, 31 PIMS, 17:58 ATOI, 58 hits, 5v5 CF % 43.9
RW Chris Stewart (BUF): Like Stafford, Stewart is signed through next year. The Sabres could opt to move him before the March 5th deadline, or even wait until the offseason. He’s another big winger that could compliment Lars Eller on the Habs third line.
Contract Status: $4,150,000 through to 2014-15, 26-years old, 6’2, 231lbs.
Stats: 58 GP, 15 G, 11 A, +2, 112 PIMS, 13:41 ATOI, 76 hits, 5v5 CF % 48.4
LW Matt Moulson (BUF): Moulson sure would look great on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta, wouldn’t he? Acquiring Moulson would instantly improve the Canadiens’ goalscoring while taking some pressure off of Max Pacioretty. That said, if the Habs do make a push to acquire Moulson, they will have to believe they have a shot at re-signing the sniper to stick around.
Contract Status: $3,133,333 this season, pending UFA, 30-years old, 6’1, 200lbs.
Stats: 54 GP, 17 G, 19 A, -7, 26 PIMS, 18:06 ATOI, 35 hits, 5v5 CF % 45.2
C David Legwand (NSH): It’s hard to see Legwand fitting into the lineup unless Lars Eller was going the other way. That’s a possibility given the Dane’s production has dropped off after a strong start to the season. Legwand has a NTC, so if he were to waive it in order to facilitate a trade to Montreal, one might suspect that he’d be open to re-signing. On the other hand, he’s spent his entire career with Nashville and may be inclined to test the free agent waters for the first time.
Contract Status: $4,500,000 this season, pending UFA, 33-years old, 6’2, 205.
Stats: 61 GP, 10 G, 30 A, -6, 26 PIMS, 17:12 ATOI, 30 hits, 5v5 CF % 49.6
RW Ryan Callahan (NYR): With reports indicating that the Rangers’ captain is seeking a new contract in the $7 million dollar range, it’s tough to envision a trade to the Habs where salary isn’t going the other way if they intend to re-sign Callahan. With a number of players to re-sign already, Montreal simply won’t have the cap space to keep Callahan. If the Canadiens land Callahan, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Captain Brian Gionta big apple bound.
Contract Status: $4,275,000 this season, pending UFA, 28-years old, 5’11, 190.lbs.
Stats: 44 GP, 11 G, 13 A, -1, 16 PIMS, 17:57 ATOI, 130 hits, 5v5 CF % 50.6
C Paul Gaustad (NSH): Gaustad is the kind of player you hate, but would love to have – which has be believing he’ll wind up a Bruin. If the Habs can secure the hulking centerman, they would likely need to give up one their bottom six players to do it. Gaustad is signed to an expensive contract for a depth player, but has the size and defensive value to make up for it. If Nashville is willing to take Travis Moen and/or Ryan White in return, it could work.
Contract Status: $3,250,000 through to 2015-16, 32-years old, 6’5, 223lbs.
Stats: 41 GP, 8 G, 6 A, -6, 42 PIMS, 13:50 ATOI, 93 hits, 5v5 CF % 43.4
RW/LW Ales Hemsky (EDM): If the Habs decide to trade for Hemsky, it would be for rental purposes only. With Rene Bourque already collecting a rich salary for mediocre play, re-signing Hemsky wouldn’t make much sense. That said, the Czech Republic could be a temporary fit alongside countryman Plekanec, or provide depth on the team’s third line with Eller.
Contract Status: $5,000,000 this season, pending UFA, 30-years old, 6’0, 185lbs.
Stats: 54 GP, 7 G, 17 A, -13, 20 PIMS, 16:02 ATOI, 26 hits, 5v5 CF % 47.3