Habs Bergevin Might be Forced to Do Something

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By J.D. Lagrange, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

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It is no secret that Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin has been working on improving his team for a playoff run as it’s been reported by very reputable media sources. His original plans, however, might have just been tweaked due to the injury bug that has started to hit his team, especially on defense.

PENTICTON, BC. – The loss of defenseman Sergei Gonchar left a hole in the Canadiens’ line-up as the veteran has been a very pleasant surprise since acquired from the Dallas Stars in return for Travis Moen. At the same time it gave others a chance to show that they are ready to take on a bigger role, most notably his defensive partner and student Nathan Beaulieu.

Beaulieu, who credits his play to Gonchar any chance that he gets to do so, has shown that not only does he have the abilities to play in the NHL, but that he now has the maturity to be a positive contributor at this level. The 6’2” smooth skating defenseman has seen his ice time go from 13-14 minutes per game to a season high 25:10 minutes against the Florida Panthers and he didn’t look out of place.

While rumours had the names of Lars Eller and Alexei Emelin being sacrificed in order to get a top-4 defenseman and a top-6 forward fill some needs in the Montreal line-up, the shoulder injury to the rugged number 74 might have changed not only the earlier discussions with other teams, but also the urgency for Bergevin to address his need on defense.

Yes, you’re always in the game when you have the best goaltender in the game in net but the same cannot be said when you must give him a rest, as we’ve seen recently. Contrarily to what some fans claimed, Dustin Tokarski had himself a pretty good game against Ottawa but he has faced 38 shots in his last three starts. Few goalies aside from Carey Price will provide you wins with that kind of defensive meltdown, especially for a team struggling to put the puck in the opposing net on a regular basis.

I’m not so sure that Michel Therrien feels too comfortable going with Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi (who had a rough night against Florida) and/or Mike Weaver, who’s play has regressed this season compared to last year.

So while the Canadiens do indeed need a top-6 forward who can put the puck in the net to help Max Pacioretty in that department, the team’s biggest need might just has shifted to a solid top-4 defenseman but as Bergevin knows too well, they come at a premium as there are more buyers than players available for that type of players.

THE TORONTO TALKS

Prior to Emelin being injured, it was interesting to read that Bergevin and his assistants Larry Carriere and Rick Dudley attended the Maple Leafs and Panthers’ game at the Air Canada Centre, and that Bergevin himself went to watch the Leafs’ farm team, the Marlies. To have such high hierarchy catch those games cannot be simply for a minor deal for pending UFAs like Daniel Winnik or David Booth as an assistant-GM and/or pro-scouts could do that work. This leads me to believe that they were talking much, much bigger deal. But what exactly?

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If Bergevin went to watch the Marlies, there had to be some AHL parts coming to Montreal and for Habs’ brass to all attend the Leafs’ game, there had to be someone substantial, with years left to his contract, being seriously scouted.

Once again, the Habs needs were at the time a top-6 goal scorer and a top-4 defenseman. As Cody Franson had already been traded to Nashville at that time, this eliminates him. This leads me to believe that the Habs were (or still are) interested to one of Dion Phaneuf ($7M cap hit until 2020-21), Phil Kessel ($8M cap hit until 2021-22), Nazem Kadri (pending RFA), Jake Gardiner ($4.65M cap hit until 2018-19), Roman Polak ($3.1M cap hit until 2015-16) or often injured Joffrey Lupul ($5.25M cap hit until 2017-18).

It has recently been reported that Leafs’ GM Dave Nonis would like to get Michael Bournival and/or Christian Thomas but that would obviously not be enough to land one (or two) of the names mentioned above.

It’s also no secret that the Leafs are less than happy with their goaltending, a need which they thought that they had addressed when they traded with the Los Angeles Kings to acquire Jonathan Bernier. Both Bernier and James Reimer have had up and down seasons and while some of the blame cannot be put solely on them, they have also looked pretty shaky at times this season and cost Toronto some precious points.

Based on all of that, here’s another bit of speculation on my part: could the Leafs be making a pitch for Dustin Tokarski? Let’s face it, he is young, has won at every level that he’s played at and he has shown being ready to play at the NHL level. He would not be a sure thing in Toronto but he would definitely be given a chance to get that elusive starting job, something he won’t get in Montreal unless Carey Price gets hurt. I could see one of Bernier or Reimer being traded to the Habs to back up Price.

This is just a process of deduction and I’m following no source or rumour bloggers, so take it for what it is. I have no idea who could/would be heading the other way. Don’t take this to the back and mortgage your house on the speculations above folks, I’m just thinking out loud. Perhaps Emelin’s injury changed all of that but one thing is for sure, Bergevin will try to help his team in this difficult time and we should see some interesting action prior to the March 2nd trade deadline.

Go Habs Go!

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J.D. Lagrange
J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement. || J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Therrien likes forwards who take some defensive accountability……This leaves Kessel out of the equation.Phaneuf has a very expensive and long contract for a D-man of his ability——What are the chances you would bring in a player( 3rd or 4th D-man at best)……and pay him more than carey Price——-I don’t think so. The leafs have 3 or 4 good,young forwards…….but theyare no better than the young guys the habs hav already………….Tokarski and Bournival/Thomas for Reimer and Polak would work It would have to be a super deal if the habs were to trade eller,Sekac or De la Rose……..and it’s difficul to see that in a trade with the leafs…………Edmonton offers a much better exchange

    • Brandon, you won’t like my answer but I believe that Eller moves first because DD produces offensively (rightfully or not) and because… he’s local. Yes, it counts in management’s mind, whether we like it or not. :)

  2. March 2 Habs GM Marc Bergevin will make a couple of moves & my guess is that it will be off the wall & fool most of us that are trying to speculate.
    MB is a wizard when it comes to dealing & the odd mistake is rare but over-all his performance is & has been outstanding.
    I’m betting my cards that MB goes out & grabs a top six forward come March 2 maybe a D man we will have to wait & see.
    Go Habs Go !!!

  3. Very excellent speculation. I can see Phanuef being attractive as a rental. Therefore we take him and some of his salary than trade him in the summer. There is just no room for his 7 mill cap hit in Montreal. I am all for trading Toker when his stock is high, but would Bernier not be a real luxury at his price and upcomming contract? I want nothing to do with Kessel, Lupul or Kadri. Gardnier may be something we could work with and his contract is cap friendly. If we have Subban, Belidauea and Gardnier moving the puck that would be impressive.

  4. David Pagnotta is reporting this morning on Twitter that the Leafs wanted Gallagher for Lupul but Nonis was told that he’s not available. According to him, Leafs are interested in Lars Eller. Considering that the Habs have 2 centres playing LW (Eller and Galchenyuk), it would make sense to trade Eller but in my opinion, RW is set with Gallagher, DSP, Parenteau and Weise. They would need a LW more. I wouldn’t count out the possibility of Roman Polak as well. We’ll see.

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