Going into this season Habs GM Marc Bergevin made very few impact changes. Washington for example, clearly saw a need for some secondary scoring support and nabbed TJ Oshie, and Justin Williams.
Montreal saw some lottery tickets. Alex Semin, Zach Kassian, and Tomas Fleischman. While “Flash” had a good start, as did the team, he’s played to his norm of the last few seasons statistically.
Semin started slow and was dumped even though the team was weak on the right side. Kassian never got to start after his car accident, and was shipped to Edmonton for Ben Scrivens, and has played as expected with 4 points in 13 games with 45 penalty minutes and 42 hits.
Now GM’s have to play information close to the vest, but Carey Price has had his “lower body” injury in the past. If eventually it’s confirmed that it’s the medial ligament in his knee that would impact his asset value. A good GM might have given consideration to that in the off season; likewise for Max Pacioretty, Montreal’s Bionic Man who keeps coming back from injury as good as new. However both are getting older and both will be up for contracts in a few years.
The very great Sam Pollack knew how to buy low and sell high. He probably would have excelled in the Cap age as he did in his time. Marc Bergevin seems to be struggling. Mostly he’s failed to address the Habs real needs.
For a team that opened up the season stating that they wanted to show they were more than Carey Price, they have failed mightily. But the worse the team played without Price, the more urgent it was for Bergy to make certain shifts. For example, he could have upped the team’s offence knowing that he wouldn’t have a goalie of Price’s caliber in net. He could have upped the team’s defence, or he could simply have traded for a goalie to relieve the pressure on Condon sooner, rather than wait and then simply take Ben Scrivens off the trash heap. While the team played bigger in front of Price knowing the goalie would hide some of their mistakes, the head space clearly reversed with Condon or other goalies in net since.
Mr. Bergevin seems to like finding rare jewels, but the NHL is not akin to going to garage sales looking for lost rare records…or hockey cards.
Montreal clearly has too many pieces, and not enough juice at the top. It’s not easy to acquire top six talent without giving up a major piece, but it can be done. The question is can Bergevin do it?
In today’s NHL a few points can mean the difference between a play off run and early golf. No GM can afford to seem to sit back and wait too long. As late as last weekend Montreal was only six points back of a play off spot; a tough mountain to climb, but achievable. Ottawa was in the same position and rolled the dice on Dion Phaneauf, which wasn’t just a play off run move, but a NHL trade with impact on the team for the future. It was a smart deal for the Sens. Looking at the spare parts Bryan Murray gave up, Montreal could have made a similar deal with Toronto or other team looking to dump a valuable player with maybe not the best contract.
Bergevin will most likely get a draft pick in the bottom ten this year. This is a team that actually is more foggy than the Leafs right now. Is it close to a blow up, or just needing to be healthy? Price’s trade value is damaged. Markov and Plecanec will be a year older. None of the kids on the farm look ready to be impact players at this stage.
Both PK Subban and Max Pacioretty could be traded. While you normally wouldn’t consider trading either, in the Cap Age, you have to consider every option, especially if you’re a team like Montreal where losing is not acceptable to the fan base. You also sell more beer when your team is winning.
Pacioretty, with three more years at $4.5M is a huge asset that could land a strong return. Subban has this season before his No Movement Clause kicks in. Even with his $9M cap hit he’s still a valuable asset.
Marc Bergevin and the Habs have their work cut out for them this golf season.
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