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Canadiens Watch: Let the trade watch begin

Having attended the SuperSkills event during all-star weekend in Montreal, I can tell you with absolute certainty that Canadiens fans have decided which player they would most like to see added to their team’s roster before the trade deadline.

The raucous ovation for Vincent Lecavalier comes as no surprise given all the hoopla about him possibly, maybe, perhaps being the centerpiece in a trade that would send him to Montreal from the Tampa Bay Lighting.

In that spirit, here is a list of players rumored to be on the move that Montreal should be interested in if the price is right.

In order of preference, they are:

Vincent Lecavalier Landing Lecavalier would take a boatload of prospects and draft picks and at least two quality roster players.

But the chance to land a franchise player in his prime is tough to pass up and Habs GM Bob Gainey should act accordingly. The only real deal-killers here would be Andrei Markov and Carey Price. I can’t see Montreal parting with either of those two guys, even for Lecavalier. That would be a case of creating one hole to fill another.

Tomas Kaberle Despite the fact the Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman will be out at least a month with a broken hand, he remains an attractive option. First of all, he won’t cost nearly as much as Lecavalier. Secondly he’s under contract at $4.25 million for the next two years. Thirdly, Kaberle is well suited to a secondary role. He’d be a great puck-mover on the team’s second defense pairing and second power play unit, with Markov remaining the main force from the blueline.

Jay Bouwmeester Clearly you would rather have Bouwmeester on your team than Kaberle, but the Florida blueliner is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July and seems unlikely to sign a long-term deal before hand.

Sacrificing what would surely amount to a couple of prospects and a draft pick to get Bouwmeester for three months simply isn’t worth it.

However, if the Habs could get his name on an extension as part of a trade, everything changes and Gainey should do everything in his power to get a big, fast, 25-year-old defenseman on his roster.

This column also appears in the Montreal Metro newspaper.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Fridays.

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