The NHL trade deadline is a very short week away. With Peter Forsberg’s return put on hold (again), the cost of making a big, splashy trade just went up. Is Montreal still in the market?
Down in Naples, Florida, Bob Gainey admitted that he’d like to add an "A-level player" – but don’t hold your breath Habs’ fans – the Montreal GM added that the type of player he is looking for is a rare find.
The biggest name that’s still blowing in on those pesterly trade winds is that of Atlanta Thrashers forward, Marian Hossa. His offensive prowess would be a welcome addition as it would take some scoring pressure off of Kovalev, Plekanec, and Andrei Kostitsyn. Hossa’s experience would be appreciated by the young guys on the team, but the big question is how would leaders like Koivu – and more importantly, Kovalev – react. Team chemistry can go a long way, especially in the playoffs, and that’s something Gainey probably doesn’t want to risk upsetting.
With Montreal currently tied for 1st place in the East, Gainey shouldn’t be feeling any pressure to make a big move, especially for a rental player. The Habs will have good leverage in any potential negotiations because other GMs know that Gainey isn’t desperate and won’t overpay. Teams on the playoff bubble (NY Rangers, Calgary, Vancouver) or other teams struggling through a rough patch (Ottawa, Philadelphia, Detroit), will be more likely to overpay for the same players that Montreal has shown an interest in.
And who, in all honesty, is Gainey willing to trade away? I’d love to land a 40-goal scorer, but if Montreal is only putting guys like Ryder, Dandenault, Grabovski, Halak, or Tom the Bomb on the table, rival GMs will be far from satisfied. Some people are calling for Bryan Smolinski to be traded, but he has a no-trade clause as part of his contract because he and his family wanted to make themselves a home here, that is, for at least this year. The Habs could offer some prospects and maybe a couple of draft picks, but most GMs (like Atlanta’s Don Waddell) are looking for roster players like Chris Higgins.
That’s too high of a price for Gainey.It’s more likely that he’ll go after a small piece that will fit easily into the system.
Other names that have been popping up:
Jared Stoll (C): A good two way center who’ll win some faceoffs (55.2%). Minnesota might make a better offer for him as they really need some depth down the middle.
Chris Gratton (C): He’d give the Habs some (needed) toughness and plays well as a shutdown center. He has a faceoff percentage of 54.6%.
Trent Hunter (RW): His versatility would be an upgrade from Michael Ryder and he’d be a good fit for Carbonneau’s system. Unfortunately, I think he fits into Ted Nolan’s system too.
Sergei Federov (C): An experienced veteran who can score, make plays, or defend, Federov could help the Habs down the stretch.
Vaclav Prospal (LW): Several teams would like to pick up his scoring ability, and because everyone knows he’s being shipped out of Tampa, Montreal probably won’t offer enough to compete with other interested teams.
Bobby Holik (C): At 37, he’s a big (6’4", 240lbs), experienced centerman who’ll contribute more as a defensive forward than as a goal scorer. Atlanta is still very much in the playoff hunt and will want immediate help in return for Holik.
There has also been talk of Dan Boyle wanting to come to Montreal, but those reports were apparently untrue, as were the ones that claimed Vincent Lecavalier wanted out of Tampa so that he could play in a bigger market. The price for Boyle will be high and Montreal already has a lot of depth on D. As for Vinny, GM Jay Feaster will make finding a decent goalie and re-signing Lecavalier to a long-term contract his top priorities this summer.
If by this time next year, however, the Lighning are still struggling and Lecavalier hasn’t been locked up long term, well, wouldn’t he look good in bleu-blanc-et-rouge?