The Montreal Canadiens’ recent eight-game winless skid sent them plummeting to 25th in the league standings. Despite winning their past two games, the Habs are seven points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
With their season on the brink, there’s growing speculation over whether GM Marc Bergevin will become a seller leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday Bergevin will wait until Montreal completes their remaining games before the all-star break to meet with his staff and determine their plans. Some pundits, however, aren’t wasting time speculating over which Habs could hit the trade block if Bergevin becomes a seller.
Le Journal de Montreal’s Michel Bergeron believes it’s time for the Canadiens to consider moving Carey Price and Shea Weber. He feels it’s time for Bergevin to try and find places where the 30-something stars can play for the Stanley Cup. Bergeron acknowledged Price’s no-movement clause, but thinks the former Vezina Trophy winner would waive it to join a Cup contender. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks, meanwhile, suggested the Carolina Hurricanes put in a call for Price, expressing skepticism over their chances of a deep playoff run with their current tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer.
Don’t expect to see Price or Weber hit the trade block anytime soon. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Bergevin said he has no intention of moving either player. As the Canadiens restock with youth, the Montreal GM feels the veteran stars can provide invaluable leadership. And even if Bergevin peddled Price or Weber at the deadline, Bergeron’s colleague Jean-Francois Chaumont considers their contracts too expensive to move.
Cynics will point to Bergevin denying he had plans to trade P.K. Subban before swapping him for Weber in June 2016. Moving Price and Weber, however, would leave two significant voids in the Canadiens’ lineup that could take years to replace. Unless they ask to be traded, they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Chaumont also believes leading scorer Tomas Tatar and second-pairing defenseman Jeff Petry would fetch solid returns, though he felt the Habs might be reluctant to part with Petry. Tatar is a year away from unrestricted free agent status and could hit the trade block if Bergevin feels now’s the time to cash in while his trade stock is high. Recent acquisitions Ilya Kovalchuk and Marco Scandella could improve their trade value should they continue playing well. Kovalchuk and Scandella each might fetch a draft pick.
Max Domi will become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. Chaumont wonders if Bergevin might shop the 24-year-old center if he proves too difficult to re-sign. Domi is among the Canadiens current youth movement and one of their few skilled scorers. Unless his salary demands become outrageous, he’s not going anywhere.
COLORADO CHASING A CREASE KING?
The Colorado Avalanche’s recent struggles have some observers concerned about their goaltending. Starter Phillip Grubauer has just two wins in his past nine starts while backup Pavel Francouz is winless in his past three.
Mike Chambers of The Denver Post reports Avalanche coach Jared Bednar remains confident Grubauer will snap out of his mid-season funk. But if he doesn’t, and if the Avs lack confidence in Francouz to carry the load, Chambers suggests pursuing New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
The 37-year-old Lundqvist is signed through 2020-21 with an $8.5-million annual cap hit, though Chambers notes he’ll earn $5.5 million in actual salary next season. He points out the Avs have the cap space and the depth in draft picks and prospects to tempt the rebuilding Rangers. With the Blueshirts carrying three goalies and Lundqvist’s chances of winning a Stanley Cup in New York fading, Chambers thinks he might waive his no-movement clause to join a contender.
Lundqvist, however, has given no hint he wants out of New York and there’s no indication Rangers management has asked him to waive his no-movement clause. They’re listening to trade offers for a goalie, but it’s not ‘King Henrik’.
On Saturday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Rangers are willing to take calls on Alexandar Georgiev. The asking price could be a young NHL-ready forward. The Avalanche could easily afford Georgiev, but they probably don’t see him as an upgrade over their current tandem.
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