Welcome to NHL Trade Deadline day. Today is known around the hockey universe to be one of the most exciting days of the year. Sellers attempt to deal potential assets and build for the future, while buyers scramble to gear their teams up for the playoffs. This year’s trade deadline day, though, may not be as exciting as expected. Much of the league’s expected action has already happened; as high profile players have already been dealt. The deadline is sure to be entertaining, though, as it’s always full of surprises. The Montreal Canadiens have already dealt the two players that they were expected to trade, Dale Weise, and Tomas Fleischmann. While some believe that GM Marc Bergevin may have something else up his sleeve, it is far more likely that he waits until the off-season to make bigger, more impactful trades.
Could the Canadiens Surprise at the Deadline?
Well, it’s hard to tell what GM Bergevin is thinking. Habs fans are often left in the dark on trades until they’re finalized. That said, there has been some speculation that Bergevin could look to ship off some more of his players before the deadline. The only issue is, he has already traded his two dispensable UFA’s. The Habs’ only remaining UFA’s are Tom Gilbert, Mark Barberio, Victor Bartley, and Ben Scrivens. Gilbert was one of the main players on the trade block, but he underwent season ending surgery a few days ago. The Habs probably want to keep Barberio around, since he has played good hockey since being called up. Bartley was just acquired in a deal that sent Jarred Tinordi to Arizona, so it’s unlikely that he moves, and the demand for Scrivens isn’t high, so he’s staying.
The speculation that has surrounded the Canadiens for the last week or so, is that they may be entertaining the idea of trading a player that is still under contract. Names like Lars Eller, and Alexei Emelin have been thrown around, as these are two players that can potentially help contending teams in the final stretch of the season. A deal involving any of these two players, though, is complicated – as they are still under contract. Eller’s contract extends to 2017-18, and it carries an average annual value of 3.5 million dollars. Emelin’s contract also expires in 2018, though its average annual value is slightly higher, at 4.1 million dollars. Emelin’s No Trade Clause further complicates a potential trade scenario, though it is possible that he would waive in order to join a contending team. These are contracts that would be hard to take on for a contending team that is near the cap ceiling, so a potential deal would likely have to include retained salary.
Some believe that trading away at least one of these players would be best for the team, but they may have to wait, since it’d be easier for a move like this to be completed in the summer. If the Habs were to free up some cap room by dealing one or both players, it would make them more flexible in terms of going after a big name free agent on July 1st. So could the Habs surprise at the deadline? Potentially, though it’s unlikely. Habs fans should expect a pretty quiet day from their team.
Its Easier to Wait…
The Canadiens could possibly be done dealing for the season, though minor moves that would see depth players traded are conceivable. The fact is, with contractual complications, making trades becomes much easier in the off-season. The NHL draft seems to be the ideal place to make off-season deals, as teams have their sights set on their next stars. The Canadiens could go one of two routes after this abysmal season. The first route would involve them re-tooling and adding a few key players in order to make a playoff run next season (hopefully with a healthy Carey Price). The second route would be a youth movement in the Canadiens locker room. The Habs would likely look to deal roster players in order to create space for younger, more inexpensive talent. In either case, making moves in the off-season is much easier than making them in the next few hours.
The Montreal Canadiens have needed to add at least one more game-changer to their lineup for some time now. In the coming months, the team will have to decide whether to draft their future star, or trade promising prospects for a piece that could put them back on track. The potential of this group with a healthy Carey Price is somewhat unknown, and the management will have to decide which direction to take. Expect a quiet Trade Deadline day in the NHL, and an even quieter day from the Canadiens, who will play in San Jose tonight.
* Featured image provided by Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers