Having played just 6:48 in the Montreal Canadiens’ 4-3 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks Monday night, it looks like the Alexander Semin experiment may be coming to an end. Semin did not look sharp and was benched in the third period after taking an ill-advised penalty. Therrien later said he would not comment on Semin’s game, but it’s safe to say the 31-year-old Russian is running out of chances in “La Belle Province.”
With that said, Montreal doesn’t have great right-wing depth. Devante Smith-Pelly, Paul Byron, Dale Weise or Brian Flynn isn’t going to cut it. So, what can the Canadiens do to replace Semin on the second line?
Well, if the Habs are looking for an immediate upgrade at the RW position, exploring the trade market might be general manager Marc Bergevin’s only option. Bergevin has never been high on mortgaging future assets for a rental, but given the Canadiens’ position in the standings, and the reasonable expectation that they may be contending for the Stanley Cup in 2016, it might be time for the GM to make a move.
Here are three potential trade options to fill the void at right wing.
3. Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lupul has played for four different teams in his 11-year NHL career. In that time, he has proven to be a lethal goal scorer. With tremendous offensive instincts, a good shot and creativity, Lupul certainly knows how to generate offense. And although he’s in the latter half of his career, he’s on pace for 32 goals in 2015-16 — with a team that’s struggled to score all year.
Having said that, the 32-year-old veteran can’t seem to stay healthy for an entire 82-game season, and he has never really been a great two-way player. This season alone, Lupul ranks dead last on the Leafs in scoring chances against per 60 minutes at even strength and has awful possession numbers. While he can put up points, his lack of defensive acumen makes it difficult to justify giving up future assets for a one-dimensional player.
Toronto would love nothing more than to offload the declining right-winger, and even though the Canadiens have shown interest in Lupul in the past, Bergevin would be smart to avoid this trade option like the plague.
2. Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers
TSN 690 Radio’s Tony Marinaro recently brought up an interesting trade possibility in Wayne Simmonds. With the Philadelphia Flyers struggling out of the gate, and Simmonds on pace for just 43 points, now would arguably be the perfect time to buy the Flyers right-winger.
Simmonds is just 27 years old, and unlike Lupul, he’s a very dynamic player, with upside both offensively and defensively. Simmonds possesses an excellent shot and is capable of driving the net with authority. He’s also an in-your-face type of player who’s not afraid to get his nose dirty in the corners or even drop the gloves. The 27-year-old’s work ethic and strong overall game has translated to decent possession and scoring chance numbers, as well.
However, Simmonds is known to take bad penalties from time to time, and, despite his offensive output, he can’t lay claim to a particularly creative offensive game. What you’re getting with Simmonds isn’t flashy; it’s a blue-collar forward who goes through extended cold streaks every now and then.
Simmonds-to-Montreal rumors have never really gained much traction, but given Simmonds’ disappointing start, now would be a great opportunity to acquire the Ontario native for a cheap price. To make this deal work, Bergevin will undoubtedly have to give up future assets to a Flyers team that may be looking to rebuild. The question is, is it worth it?
1. Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche are ranked dead-last in their division. With a 7-9-1 record and playoff chances looking slim, the Avs are quickly turning into sellers just a month and a half into the season. One of the names being thrown around in rumors is 2009 third-overall pick Matt Duchene.
Duchene is a high-profile name, and at just 24 years old, the asking price for the talented right-winger will be incredibly high. However, if the Habs are willing to ante up, they’d be getting a player who not only puts up first-line numbers, but is capable of changing the entire outlook of Montreal’s depth at right wing.
The 24-year-old is extremely fast and uses that to his advantage, putting up points with relative ease. To put things in perspective, since the 2012-13 season, the Canadiens’ leading scorer has been Max Pacioretty with 2.23 points per 60 minutes at ES (even strength). Duchene’s average is 2.37. With respectable possession numbers and a sound two-way game, Duchene is an ideal trade option to fill the Canadiens’ right-wing void on the second line.
Now, Duchene has been criticized for trying to do too much in the past, but the work ethic is there; and it’s better to have a player who tries to do too much than a player who doesn’t do much at all.
To acquire a star like Duchene isn’t easy and requires an insane amount of assets. However, if Bergevin can somehow bargain Colorado down to a reasonable price, Duchene could be someone who pushes the Habs over the edge.