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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 43 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Trade rumours remain abundant in Montreal, but the trades themselves remain scarce. Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty has been the subject of trade rumours over the last month. Itís hard to imagine GM Marc Bergevin trading his best goal scorer, but easy to understand that teams around the league would be interested in his services.
Another player whose name has surfaced lately in hypothetical trade debates is defenseman Josh Gorges. Heralded as a candidate to replace Gionta as the teamís next captain, a trade would be unexpected.
Both Gorges and Pacioretty are of the few Habs currently signed to multi-year contracts at cap-friendly salaries.
Itís unlikely that either Pacioretty nor Gorges will find himself in a different uniform this year. However, I took to the HabsWorld forums to see which of these two fan-favorite Canadiens readers would be willing to part with for a roster upgrade.
You can join the discussion on the HW forums or simply read below to see which arguments best align with your opinion.
Answers from HWís writers:
Brian La Rose: Both types of players are valuable to any team but it's a lot harder to acquire a legitimate goal scorer than it is a stay-at-home defenceman so if I have to pick between the two as to who to trade, I pick Gorges. In Pacioretty, the Habs have not only a player on the upswing but also one that's on a good value contract, especially with the expected increase in the salary cap. You're going to have a hard time finding a 30-goal replacement that's making $4.5 million in the near future. Gorges brings a lot of positives to the table as well and his contributions to the dressing room can't be overlooked either. But, there are more stay-at-home players that can bring a lot of similar elements to the table that become available each year than there are goal scorers. That, to me, makes Gorges the more expendable of the two.
Matthew Macaskill: Itís frustrating as it is to watch Max Pacioretty reluctantly use his size to win puck battles deep in the offensive zone, opting instead to wait at the half boards for a loose puck to find his stick. That said, I still wouldnít move him. The sniper is the most consistent scoring threat on the team and I have no doubt heíll be the first Habs player to break 40 goals in a while. If I had to choose, Iíd move Josh Gorges for a legitimate top pairingóor at least top fouródefenseman. Gorges is a good defensive defenseman, but heíd be better served on the bottom pairing. With a number of young blueline prospects in the system, moving Gorges might not hurt the team in the future, particularly if itís for a significant upgrade for a guy who could form a legitimate top pairing with P.K. Subban for years to come.
Kevin Meldrum: I would trade Gorges in a heartbeat if he could get a big bodied forward with some scoring punch. Montreal is an in-between team with not few scorers and not enough size to maintain a strong forecheck. Gorges adds heart, shot blocking, and guts, but he is not a top four D-man in this league in my opinion. At a $3.9 million dollar cap hit over four more years itís an easy decision for me. Also, Markov and Plekanec would be excellent trade bait. We do not have enough guns to make a run this year and we need size up front, so letís not lose some of it by trading a goalscorer with size and an excellent cap hit in Pacioretty.
Norm Szcyrek: There's no way the Habs should or need to trade Pacioretty. It's nice that other teams are interested in him, but just because Montreal has a player that others covet is never a good reason to move him. Those types of trades rarely work out well especially with Montreal's history. I would be open to moving a player like Gorges, because he's a 5th/6th defenceman on a contending team, and he currently plays above that role with the Habs. If a younger defenceman were pushing for more ice time on the depth chart, then moving a player like Gorges makes sense. But currently the Habs have older veterans like Bouillon and Murray in that position now, so I believe it's unlikely the Habs will trade Gorges this season. The future is a different scenario for a trade.
Responses from the HW community:
Meller93: It would take a pretty great return to move Pacioretty. Plus he's the type of player we need here anyway as a big-bodied scorer. $4.5 million for him is great. Gorges though, I like him a lot but since 2011-2012 something about his game hasn't done it for me. I think a more physical defensive defenseman would be nice.
bigbigbear: Gorges has done a great job looking after Gallagher. Though Gorges would be a good trading chip, what message are you sending to your players when you are trading your future captain? Max is on my untouchable list considering his cap hit, size, and intensity. When he is on, he is a game changer.
Machine of Loving Grace: I consider guys like Gorges to be undervalued by fans and overvalued by organizations. When a team gets their hands on a smart, reliable defensive defenceman, it makes organizations that struggle with defensive consistency breathe a sigh of relief. But for fans, a guy like Gorges doesn't dazzle. When he makes a mistake on his reputation it makes him even more susceptible for fan revolt.
I think if you lose Gorges, you're going to get a similar effect to when we lost Emelin unless he's replaced by someone who can be as reliable as him. Gorges was top three for shorthanded minutes in 11-12 and 12-13 and is top 10 this season. Those minutes would have to be replaced, and be replaced by someone we can truly rely on.
I wouldn't be against moving him out, but the return can't merely be an upgrade on scoring or making room for a bigger defenceman. I need to know his role will be filled. Otherwise we're gonna get tougher and clear creases but suddenly we're getting killed on the penalty kill so it doesn't matter.
PMAC: Like MoLG, I don't see the rush to trade Gorges. He might not be overly physical or offensively gifted, but I am the only one who noticed him breaking up a 3-on-1 and eliminating a great--potentially game tying chance for PHX? He is also signed to a reasonable deal.
Regrettably, I see far too much negative commentary on the board based on likes and dislikes of a players style and not very much thought given to the players contributions. For example, not too long ago most people were criticising Murray and questioning Marc Bergevin's sanity in signing him. Now that he has played himself into game shape Murray is playing well... he is still slow, but his positioning and anticipation are better and he still loves to hit.
To answer the question: NEITHER. I would not be upset to see Bourque traded but other than that we need to trade non-roster players middling picks for an upgrade at forward nearer to the trade deadline.
KoRP: Right now, I wouldn't trade either of them. In my opinion Pacioretty should not be traded, unless the return is mind blowing. Bergevin may be a flamboyant dresser, but he ain't crazy. This team needs more players with size and speed, and there isn't a better upgrade out there to him in a variety of ways. His contract is great, his personality is even better, he loves Montreal, his skill with the puck, his heavy shot, his speed, and his ability to put the puck in the net makes it just plain crazy to trade him without the huge return that helps us now or in a year from now. If anything, we need to get him a linemate or two to enhance him and take him higher... and someone to make his effort consistent. Then he would be what we need him to be.
I don't have a single problem with Gorges either, and as the cap goes up, he will be a deal as a #5 or #6.
The Chicoutimi Cucumber: If I had to trade one, it'd be Gorges. This team has a deep structural need for big forwards who can drive the net and score. Patches delivers that, at least when he's awake. Gorges brings good skills to the table as well, but ultimately it's easier to replace a quality #5 defender than it is a top-line scorer. Gorges is also on the overpaid side, while Patches took a hometown discount.
Of course the whole exercise is abstract since we don't know what the return is. But Gorges is more disposable, no question.
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