Marc Bergevin is all-in. We started hearing it the day he traded P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, we heard it more with the coaching change earlier this week, and with less than two weeks left before the NHL trade deadline, the refrain is being trumpeted more loudly than ever.
But what does ‘all-in’ really mean? Many feel this suggests that Bergevin will definitely be active in the days leading up to March 1st. While it’s true that he’ll be actively shopping, there’s no reason to believe that a trade is imminent. If there’s anything the crafty executive has proven time and again, it’s that he plays his cards close to his well-tailored vest, often with a couple of wild cards making their way past his cuff links and up his sleeve. Bergevin is not afraid to make unpopular decisions and may therefore ending up standing still on deadline day, if he doesn’t find the right deal for him.
Given Bergevin’s unpredictability, perhaps rather than asking ‘will he or won’t he’ it’s easier to ask; should he or shouldn’t he? The reflex response is that he definitely should make a move, since Carey Price and Weber’s prime time window is short and the current lineup needs bolstering to make a serious run. There is also no guarantee that Alexander Radulov will return next season, so best to make use of him while they have him. Therefore, give up whatever picks and prospects need to be dealt, in order to get the reinforcements this team needs. It’s all well and good that Bergevin has been protective of his first-rounders to date, but the time is now to focus all resources on the present. Inactivity is unacceptable.
Makes sense, right? Well, not so fast. In fact, there may even be a greater case for why Bergevin should stand pat.
Are the Canadiens really just a piece or two away from a Cup run? And if so, are the right pieces even out there this year? The big names currently floating around are Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla, Martin Hanzal, and Shane Doan. Duchene is obviously the biggest of them and will command a ludicrous price, if the media reports are to be believed. Bergevin is not one to vastly overpay for an asset, so it seems unlikely that he’ll be willing or even able to outbid the other suitors in the Duchene market.
Hanzal could be interesting, but again, the lack of quality trade pieces mean his value is likely inflated and would require a big overpayment. Doan or Iginla could be great for the room, but isn’t that what Weber is for? Plus, these greybeards, while still effective, would certainly be a drag on the team speed.
So if the right players aren’t available, then what’s the rush? The window on Price and Weber may be limited, it’s not limited to this season. Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec aside, the core of the team is still quite young. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to think next year’s edition could be even stronger, with the likes of Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Artturi Lehkonen, Nathan Beaulieu, Phillip Danault, Sven Andrighetto, Daniel Carr, Michael McCarron, and Nikita Scherbak adding another year of maturity to their development.
Finally, the Canadiens’ prospect cupboard is not as resplendent as it once was, so tradeable assets are scarce and shouldn’t be squandered. Bergevin has consistently repeated that he wants to build a consistent contender, not just a one-year wonder. Emptying the cupboard now could prove to be a costly mistake for years to come.
The two days where teams forge some of their biggest long-term regrets are free agency day and trade deadline day. These are the days that produce albatross contracts and see valuable picks and prospects change hands and destinies. All of this to say, Bergevin should tread lightly and certainly not make a move for the sake of making a move – which is often the principal ingredient in the recipe for long term damage.
So should he or shouldn’t he? It turns out the answer to that question is just as murky as the ‘will he or won’t he’ conundrum.
The current General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens is as enigmatic as they come, but the one thing we know for sure is that Marc Bergevin will certainly work himself to the bone to find the deal that works for him. Should he find that move, there’s a great chance it will be one that nobody saw coming. From Thomas Vanek to Jeff Petry to Weber to Radulov, Bergevin’s moves are almost always unadvertised and seem to come out of left field.
Therefore, the only certainty for Habs fans leading up to March 1st, is that it’ll be a day where anything could happen – or not. Maybe. Stand by.