The 2016-17 season was an interesting one for the Montreal Canadiens. After a solid start turned into a second-half collapse in 2015-16, the team went into the offseason with a different outlook and added a number of key pieces to help them down the line.
KHL star Alexander Radulov was signed to a one-year deal worth $5 million, Chicago Blackhawks agitator Andrew Shaw was acquired during that year’s NHL entry draft, and fan-favorite P.K. Subban was traded for Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber in one of the bigger blockbuster trades in recent memory.
Coupled with breakout performances from former bottom-six winger Paul Byron and rookie Arturri Lehkonen, the Canadiens finished the season with a 47-26-9 record, good for first place in their division. Before falling to the New York Rangers in six games in round one, Habs general manager (GM) Marc Bergevin had one of his busier trade deadlines in recent memory. Acquiring five different players in a four-day period leading up to the March 1 trade deadline continued a trend for Bergevin in acquiring reinforcements for playoff runs, primarily in the bottom six. How did these acquisitions turn out? Let’s take a look.
Before joining the Canadiens, Benn was mostly known for being a solid defensive defenseman on an offensively stacked Dallas Stars team alongside his brother Jamie Benn. An undrafted free agent out of the BCHL, Benn spent five seasons in the Stars’ minor league system until making the team full time in 2013-14. From there he played a primarily third-pairing role alongside players like Brendan Dillon, before landing in Montreal on March 1 in exchange for seventh defenseman Greg Pateryn.
Benn continued to play a solid defensive game for the Canadiens, recording 2 goals over 13 games, and would massively step up his role over the next two seasons, becoming a key part of the team’s penalty kill and posting a career-high plus-15 in the 2018-19 season. However, this past offseason, the Canadiens let Benn walk and he signed a two-year deal worth $4 million, with the Vancouver Canucks. In a disappointing 2019-20 season, he played only 44 games, recording 7 points.
A first-round pick of the Dallas Stars in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, Steve Ott quickly became known as one of the league’s best agitators, possessing a solid mix of offensive and defensive abilities. After nine seasons with the Stars, Ott was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in July of 2012 in exchange for Derek Roy. After being traded to the St. Louis Blues with Ryan Miller in a package swap, Ott spent another two and a half seasons there before being signed by the Detroit Red Wings on July 1, 2016.
On March 1, the Canadiens acquired Ott in exchange for a sixth-round pick, hoping his faceoff skills and leadership abilities could help during the playoffs. In 11 regular season games with the Habs, Ott recorded 1 assist, and played in all 6 games in their series against the Rangers. After this season, Ott retired and currently serves as an assistant coach in St. Louis.
In many ways, Brandon Davidson is a perfect example of the modern-day NHL journeyman. A sixth-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2010, he spent six and a half seasons in the organization as an infrequent healthy scratch/injury call up. On Feb. 28, 2017, the Canadiens acquired Davidson in exchange for long-time fan favorite David Desharnais.
In two partial seasons with the team, Davidson struggled to find consistent ice time, and was eventually reclaimed by the Oilers on waivers in December of 2017. Since then, he has played for four more NHL teams, developing a reputation as a solid, two-way defenseman. At this year’s trade deadline, Davidson was traded from the Calgary Flames to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for future considerations.
A fourth-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2007, most hockey fans remember Dwight King as a key part of the Kings’ bottom six during their run of two Cups in three seasons between 2011 and 2014. After finishing his junior career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, King spent two seasons in the Kings’ minor league system before joining the team towards the end of the 2011-12 season. However, as the team’s star goalie Jonathan Quick dealt with injury problems, players like King and backup turned starter Peter Budaj were dumped off towards the trade deadline.
Being acquired by the Canadiens in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick, King recorded 1 goal over 17 games with the team, playing mostly a bottom-six role, while struggling both offensively and defensively. With no NHL takers in the 2017 offseason, King signed in the KHL with Yekaterinburg Automobilist on a two-year deal. After a disappointing first season, however, King was released by the team and subsequently signed in Austria, where he currently plays for Graz EC.
Spending his first few seasons in the DEL with Dusseldorf EG, Andreas Martinsen was signed by the Colorado Avalanche after recording 41 points in 50 games in the 2014-15 season. Despite producing well overseas, he became more of a defensive forward in the NHL, spending one and a half seasons with the Avalanche in a checking role. Acquired by the Canadiens on March 1, longtime Habs minor-league forward Sven Andrighetto went the other way in the transaction.
In 9 games, Martinsen struggled to find ice time with the Habs, getting into only 2 out of the 6 playoff games, while Andrighetto recorded 16 points over 19 games with the Avalanche. Before the start of the 2017-18 season, the Canadiens dealt Martinsen to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Kyle Baun.
After spending two partial seasons with the Hawks, Martinsen has spent this past season playing for four different teams across three different leagues. Currently, he plays for Zug EV of the Swiss-A league.
In the end, the Canadiens failed in their quest for another deep playoff run, and all of these trades ended up with no real winners on either side. Pateryn played one full season with the Stars before signing with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent, currently serving as a solid third-pairing defender, and the sixth-round pick the Red Wings got was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
David Desharnais signed with the Rangers as a free agent after playing a depth role in the Oilers’ second-round playoff run. The fourth-round pick the Kings got for Dwight King was flipped back to Montreal, and Andrighetto played a bottom-six role for two years with the Avalanche before heading overseas to the KHL, where he currently plays for Omsk Avangard. In the end, the 2016-17 season — while interesting — marked the last playoff berth for the Canadiens, who, three years later, are still searching for another shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup.