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With the midway point of the season fast approaching and the roster freeze
soon to be lifted, many thoughts are turning to trades.  Who should the
Habs go after and what should they be willing to give up?  These are the
two most common questions but we’re taking a different approach to pondering
potential swaps.  Instead of who should be dealt, who is the one player
that absolutely cannot be traded away?

There are four players who really seem to stand out amongst the rest of the
team that could be considered the most untouchable Hab:

W/C Alex Galchenyuk
W Max Pacioretty
G Carey Price
D P.K. Subban

Cases for Each Player

Galchenyuk: Since being drafted in 2012, Galchenyuk has been hyped up
as the front line player of the future for the Habs.  He appears to have
turned a major corner this year in his development and his recent position
change to centre has gone over well thus far.  Top line centres are
arguably the rarest commodity in the NHL today and if the Habs have one in
Galchenyuk, it would be awfully difficult to give him up.  At just 20 years
old, he could be a big time player in the league for many, many years to come.

Pacioretty: The name of the game is, and always will be, goal scoring
and Pacioretty is the best player on the Canadiens when it comes to putting the
puck in the net.  On top of that, he has quickly become one of the more
dangerous scoring threats in the league and is among the best at his position. 
Pacioretty is also on a very team-friendly deal (four more years after this one
at a $4.5 M cap hit) and has to be considered at least a co-favourite to be
named captain moving forward.

Price: It took a few years but Price has established himself as one of
the top goalies in the NHL and as we’ve seen on quite a few occasions this year,
he is more than capable of winning games on his own.  At 27 years old, he’s
right in the midst of his prime and has another three years after this at a cost
that will soon be below the market rate for the top goalies in the league. 
Price is widely considered to be their franchise player and although he can’t
officially be named captain, there’s no denying that his voice carries a lot of
weight in the Canadiens’ dressing room.

Subban: Top defencemen are very hard to come by and Subban’s
performance in recent years has shown that he’s worthy of a #1 label. 
Montreal has made a long-term, record breaking commitment to him to be the go-to
guy on the blueline and to move him less than one season into that pact would be
tough to swallow.  Subban’s engaging personality has endeared him to many
fans while he also has to be considered a co-favourite to be the next captain
down the road.

Around the Boards

We posed this question to our posters on the HW Forums.  Here is a
sampling of their responses:

illWill: For whatever reason, the position of goaltender is of the
utmost importance to this franchise. You can directly link our past success to
the performance of the goaltending. Whether it’s Roy, Halak or even Theodore, we
seem to go as the goalies go. As soon as we drafted Carey Price, he became my
favorite player. I was one of the few who wasn’t worried through his learning
curves and seen the big picture. He has won at every level and one day will
hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup over his head. This player will go down as one of the
best of his generation, and for that, he is the most untouchable Hab in my

Lovett’s Magnatones: Keeping with my theme of hockey as entertainment,
I have to go with Subban. Price holds down the fort, I think Pacioretty is the
next captain and Galchenyuk is the center of the future, but PK is the Habs’
identity. He was the first entertaining thing to happen to this franchise in
twenty years.

Neech: Price, trading him would be madness.  PK is right behind,
I still think he can get it together between the ears.  Patches I’d trade for a
top player, but it wouldn’t make sense to subtract so much.

IN THE HEARTS OF MEN: The Habs have won 24 Stanley Cups for one simple
reason… they have taken care of their net first and built from the back
forward not the forward back!!  It has taken awhile to reap the rewards of
sticking with Price but if our record over the last 3 seasons is any
indication… Price is more valuable than almost all players in hockey right

Fan Vote

Earlier this month, our poll on the main page asked our readers the same
question, who is the most untouchable Hab?  Here are the results:

Carey Price (73.0%)
Alex Galchenyuk (18.9%)
P.K. Subban (5.9%)
Max Pacioretty (1.5%)
Other (0.7%)

My Pick

I was expecting to see a tight race between Price and Subban but there was a
strong majority not only from the above poll results but also on the boards in
favour of Price.  That’s also where I lean.  Put a great goalie on any
team and that squad is going to be capable of winning on any night.  On the
flip side, put a bad goalie on a strong team and the end result isn’t likely to
be positive.  A top flight defenceman like Subban won’t have that type of
impact nor will a guy like Galchenyuk if he reaches his potential.  As
Price goes, so goes the Habs and right now, the Canadiens are going well. 
I’m not up for trading any of the four players mentioned here but if I can only
keep one for some reason, it’s Carey Price.