Top 5 Canadiens Trades of the Last Decade

Since the NHL implemented the salary cap, player movement has become more popular than ever. As soon as a trade goes down, fans and the media start looking up statistics and salary cap implications to see who got the better deal.The only problem is that it can be years before a true winner emerges. Even then, occasionally a trade works perfectly for both clubs and there is no clear winner or loser.

The Montreal Canadiens have been one of the more active teams on the trade market in recent years, and with the dog days of summer upon us, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the best and worst trades the Canadiens have made in the last 10 years.

We’ll start with the best trades this time and the worst will follow. These deals are in no particular order.

Wisniewski’s Rights for Columbus’ 5th Round Pick

After playing just 43 games for the Canadiens as a rental in 2010-11, it was clear that James Wisniewski was not going to return to Montreal after the season ended. Then-GM Pierre Gauthier decided that he might as well get something in return for the talented offensive rearguard, so he shipped his rights to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a conditional seventh round pick that would turn into a fifth round pick if the Jackets were to re-sign Wisniewski.

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Two days after acquiring his rights, the Blue Jackets indeed re-signed Wisniewski and the seventh round pick turned into a fifth. With that 122nd overall pick, the Canadiens plucked Charles Hudon from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

Although Hudon has not yet become an impact player in the NHL, he has been one of the better point producers in the AHL and, as Montreal’s top forward prospect, should compete for a roster spot out of training camp.

After four seasons in Columbus, the Jackets would end up trading Wisniewski to the Anaheim Ducks. He played only 13 games in his second stint with the team before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. In Carolina, he missed the entire 2015-16 season after tearing his ACL 47 seconds into the first game of the season. The Hurricanes ultimately bought out his contract and he has not played in the NHL since.

Weise & Fleischmann for Danault & 2nd Round Pick

In February 2016, the Habs shipped Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for 2011 first-round pick Phillip Danault and a second round pick in 2018.

The Canadiens obviously haven’t used the pick obtained in this deal but it already looks like a win for them. Weise and Fleischmann played 15 and 19 games, respectively, for the Blackhawks, combining for a total of four goals and six points.

Phillip Danault (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Weise would ultimately sign a four-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, scoring eight goals and 15 points in 64 games in his first season on Broad Street. Fleischmann has not seen NHL action since his season with Montreal and Chicago.

Danault, however, broke out for 13 goals and 40 points this season after making the Habs’ opening night roster. After Alex Galchenyuk went down with a knee injury in December, Danault claimed the top center spot between captain Max Pacioretty and Alex Radulov; a spot he would not relinquish for the remainder of the season.

Playing for a contract this year, Danault should pick up where he left off and can be expected to improve upon his last campaign.

Collberg & 2nd Round Pick for Vanek & 5th Round Pick

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin made the biggest splash at the 2014 trade deadline, bringing in the highly coveted Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders.

Although Vanek signed with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent after the 2014 playoffs, he enjoyed a relative amount of success while donning Habs colours. He banged out 15 points in 18 regular season games and another 10 points in 17 playoff games en route to the Eastern Conference Final, where the team was eliminated at the hands of the New York Rangers.

This trade makes the list not necessarily because of Vanek’s production or the length of his tenure in Montreal. What makes this trade great is the minimal price Bergevin had to pay to get him there in the first place: Sebastian Collberg and a second round pick in 2014.

Thomas Vanek (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports )

Collberg was originally a second round pick by the Canadiens in 2012 but never appeared in a game. In fact, he only played 2 games for Montreal’s AHL affiliate at the time, the Hamilton Bulldogs, and was unable to register a point.

He managed to play 85 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers over the course of two seasons but couldn’t find his scoring touch. Collberg spent last season in the SHL and, while he is still young and has time to develop, it seems likely that he will spend his career back home in Sweden.

The Islanders traded the second round pick, along with their own second rounder, to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for the 28th overall pick, which originally belonged to the New York Rangers. They would use that pick to select forward Josh Ho-Sang. While Ho-Sang is dripping with talent, off-ice issues have delayed his NHL career.

Montreal would select Nikolas Koberstein with the fifth round pick they acquired. Koberstein is currently playing in the NCAA for the University of Alaska Fairbanks and should he continue playing there, the Canadiens own his rights until August 15, 2019.

2nd & 4th Round Picks for Petry

Leading up to the 2015 trade deadline, Jeff Petry was one of the most sought after players on the market. He may not be the flashiest defenseman on the ice, but since coming to the Canadiens, Petry has been one of the steadiest, most consistent players in the lineup. He has played an average of 21:52 per night; only three players played more minutes during that timeframe: PK Subban, Shea Weber and Andrei Markov.

The Canadiens gave up two picks in order to obtain Petry: a second round pick and a fourth round pick. The Edmonton Oilers eventually flipped the second rounder to the New York Rangers in the trade that sent Cam Talbot to Edmonton. The Rangers then traded the pick to the Washington Capitals for two later picks.

Jeff Petry
Jeff Petry (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The Caps used the pick to select defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler. Siegenthaler has yet to make his NHL debut but remains one of the Capitals’ top prospects.

Edmonton used the fourth round pick to select a defenseman as well and chose Caleb Jones, younger brother of Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones. Like Siegenthaler, Jones has not yet appeared in an NHL game but his production has increased in each of his three previous seasons.

This off-season has seen a lot of turnover on the Canadiens’ back end. Long-time defensemen Markov, Alexei Emelin and Nathan Beaulieu have been replaced with Mark Streit, Karl Alzner and David Schlemko, which, with all due respect to the latter players, seems like a serious downgrade.

Considering that the left side of the Habs’ defense is looking shaky at best, having a stalwart like Petry in the top four provides the team with some stability behind Weber.

Rivet & 5th Round Pick for Gorges & 1st Round Pick

While this trade technically falls a few months short of actually being within the last 10 years, it is still one of the more significant trades the Canadiens have made. On February 25, 2007, the Canadiens shipped veteran defenseman Craig Rivet and a fifth round pick to the San Jose Sharks for up-and-comer Josh Gorges and the Sharks’ first round pick in 2007.

Let’s start with Gorges. After going undrafted, Gorges signed a free agent contract with the Sharks and played parts of two seasons in San Jose. Once he got to Montreal, it wasn’t long before he was a fan favourite. He was never an offensive juggernaut and his game wasn’t flashy or over-the-top, but he was one of the better defensive defensemen Montreal has had over the last 10 years.

Gorges was a mainstay on the Canadiens’ blue line for seven years, playing 464 games and accumulating 88 points. What fans loved about him was the integrity with which he played the game. Montreal loved him and he loved Montreal.

(Photo: Andy Martin Jr)
Josh Gorges (Photo: Andy Martin Jr)

He loved Montreal so much that he invoked his no trade clause to block a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs. According to The Canadian Press, Gorges said, ” … After playing against them for that many years of being our No. 1 rival, I just didn’t think it would’ve been fair to them. I wouldn’t have been the same player that they would’ve expected me to be.”

As for the other piece Montreal acquired, they would use the first round pick to select none other than Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty has become an integral part of Montreal’s core and is arguably their second most important player behind Carey Price. Consistently underrated, Pacioretty has scored at least 30 goals in five out of the last six seasons.

Since 2011-12, Pacioretty sits fourth in goals scored league-wide, ahead of players like Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby. He has managed to do this with a shooting percentage of just 11.9%, which, besides Tyler Seguin’s 11.3% is the lowest shooting percentage out of the top 10 goal scorers.

The Canadiens have made some very good trades over the years but this one stands out as one of the best in their rich history.