HabsWorld.net -- 

With the free agent frenzy now over, everyone has had some time to reflect on
the current composition of Montreal’s roster. No team is ever perfect though and
there’s always room to improve. Given the amount of players on the roster, any
further changes/improvements will have to come at the expense of someone
currently on the team. Who are those ‘must-trade’ players that need to be
shipped out to make the team better?

Simon Aronson: In terms of a must trade player for Montreal
this offseason, I see the team being in an enviable position of not having any
player that fits the part. Prior to the trade of Daniel Briere, he would have
been my choice for the simple reason that he did not fill a role on the team.
Right now the team is in a position of great flexibility (which many other NHL
franchises envy) with only Pacioretty, Emelin and Price (add Subban soon too,
hopefully) signed to deals of four seasons or more. The team is not carrying any
crippling contracts or long ones with players that face imminent decline. If
however, the Canadiens were dead-set on making a move, some of the candidates I
could imagine being shipped out are Plekanec, Desharnais, Bourque, or possibly
one of the backup goalies, but I do not consider any of these players as

When it comes to centres, Plekanec and Desharnais are often mentioned as
trade pieces for the main reason of opening up a spot for Alex Galchenyuk. If
one of them were to be moved, I think it would more likely be Plekanec for the
reasons that he is older, more expensive, and would fetch a higher return. That
said, I believe losing Plekanec would hurt the team more than losing Desharnais
and I am still not convinced that a team can win a Stanley Cup with Desharnais
as their number-2 C. While this may sound like making a case for trading
Deshanais, his salary does provide excellent value for someone who can put up
50-60 points as well as spark the teams’ leading goal scorer. Not to mention,
the market for Desharnais may not provide abundant options. I see no point in
rushing Galchenyuk into the centre position and the team depth at the position
could prove invaluable should any of the centers go down with a long term

As for Bourque, a player who received arguably more criticism than any other
Hab last season, I think the team is better to risk keeping him than risk
letting him go. Bourque had by his standards a terrible regular season, scoring
only 16 points in 63 games. That has basically killed any value he would have in
the trade market. Since the Canadiens would not likely get a roster player they
can use for Bourque (team has good 4th line depth already) I think they are
better off keeping him and hope he can keep producing at a similar rate to what
he was during the post season.

Matt Dilworth: It’s a testament to Marc Bergevin’s work as a GM
that there is no obvious ‘must-trade’ candidate on the Canadiens’ roster. There
are no onerous contracts, and the only players earning top dollars in Montreal
are those that merit it (i.e., Price, Markov, Plekanec, and inevitably, Subban).
The only rationale I can think of for any urgency to move a player now, might be
because his value is diminishing, and it would worthwhile to acquire an asset
before his stock falls too far. I think that two players fit this bill: Travis
Moen and Brandon Prust.

Injuries have taken their toll on both of these players over the years (a
credit to the physical, punishing games they implement) and their efficiency in
their roles have been slowly slipping. In the past, both forwards could play up
and down in the lineups, but lately they’ve been relegated to the 4th line or
even made a healthy scratch; a combined $4.35M cap hit is far too expensive for
these roles. There’s always the chance that one or both of these players will
benefit from a summer of rest, and return to their earlier forms, but it seems
unlikely. Given their pedigrees, I would have to think that some GM would be
willing to give up something of value for either player. This window may be
closing if either player loses another step.

Brian La Rose: Although on the surface it would make little
sense to take away any of the toughness that the Habs have, my choice is Brandon
Prust.  Gone are the days where he can realistically be counted on to play
third line minutes, that role seems destined for either Dale Weise or one of the
youngsters.  That means that basically, Prust is a $2.5 million fourth line
tough guy.  He also has had a ton of shoulder injuries since coming to
Montreal, something that will likely continue if he is used as the designated
fighter once again. 

It’s not that Prust can’t contribute but for the role he now finds himself
in, the Habs would be better off trying to get out of his deal and finding a
cheaper option on the market to fill the tough guy role.  That would free
up some money to go towards trying to improve a more prominent spot on the
roster or to use for a trade deadline acquisition that will have more of an
impact on the team than keeping Prust around would.

Alex Létourneau: Tomas Plekanec. I harped early on last season
that he had lost his legs and Lars Eller was a shoe-in to take over, especially
after his hot start to the season and now I’m thumping those drums again,
despite being wrong earlier. I thought Plekanec looked gassed in the New York
series, while Eller looked good. They’re the same type of player and Plekanec is
on the wrong side of 30. It’s time to transition towards bigger, younger
centres. David Desharnais will not be going anywhere after his playoffs, Alex
Galchenyuk is a natural down the middle and Lars Eller looks like he’s ready to
take that two-way centreman mantle. Plekanec would fetch good value, maybe swap
him for a big winger who can slot into the top six.

Kevin Meldrum: My must trade player in the off season is Tomas
Plekanec.  He still would command the greatest value of a veteran on the
Habs’ roster, plus Lars Eller’s emergence means that he can be the player needed
to fill the role of Plekanec at a cheaper rate with upside. Trading Plekanec
would get the Habs a legitimate top-6 younger winger or a top-4 defenceman.