T-Minus 7 Days

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.

Is Vincent Lecavalier looking to play in a bigger market? (Photo by Bruce BeIs Vincent Lecavalier looking to play in a bigger market? (Photo by Bruce Bennet)

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?

 

23 Comments

  1. 24 Cups says:

    Chris – is there any chance you could change the byline for this thread each day from Minus 7 days to 6 days, 5 days etc. Have it like a daily countdown. That way it might create the impression of an on going trade thread instead of a one day thread (when it was posted). Then guys could visit it daily to discuss trades until we reach Tuesday afternoon. It would sort of be like our own trade central. You know, if you want to talk trade then visit Chris’ site. Just a thought!

    The Original 24 Cups

  2. smart42 says:

    Chris,

    scramble come backs are good for ratings. But why oh why do we allow so many goals?

    Blue line trades, I will be somewhat flexible.

    I love being a Lazy Boy GM.

  3. Les-Habitants says:

    The Bobby Holik campaign is back in full force (you forgot to mention he is top 10 in faceoff %, and is a leader to boot!)

    Bobby Holik: Won’t cost us Higgins!
    Bobby Holik: A family man!
    Bobby Holik: A face only a mother could love.

    For these reasons, and more, Bobby Holik is the man for us. That and he’s a experienced shutdown center who has leadership (wears the ‘C’ in Atlanta), great faceoff skills, size, grit, good lockeroom presence, has won 2 Cups and knows what it takes to win in the playoffs.

    Yah, so, uh, I think he’d be a good fit.

  4. Les-Habitants says:

    Oh, and for the others:

    Jared Stoll (C): Maybe, but Gainey talked about not moving sideways and he doesn’t bring anything the Habs don’t already have in Montreal or in Hamilton

    Chris Gratton (C): Don’t see this at all, too many people already fighting for roster spots on the 4th line.

    Trent Hunter (RW): Good call about Nolan, just re-signed.

    Sergei Federov (C): This one, like Holik, could be a fit.

    Vaclav Prospal (LW): Agree with you, too expensive. My bet, despite the Stillman trade, is that Ottawa gets him.

    Brad Richards (C): Too expensive, too many years left, having an off-season. Too many question marks.

    Marian Hossa (RW): If Gainey can get away from dealing Higgins, I don’t think many other players are safe…but only if he signs an extension.

    As for Dan Boyle, Campbell or any other D-man…no chance. Our team defense, despite a few games, has been the strength of the team ever since Hammer stabalized it. Gainey will not trade valuable assets to improve his D at the trade deadline.

  5. Sakus Evil Twin says:

    Chris – no Brian Campbell?

    My Gainey-senses are tingling that he’s the man.

    Offensive defenseman… Dandy might not be enough – even with a decent draft pick attached… but Streit?

    *dangle, dangle*

  6. aungthwin says:

    Evil Twin – this is from an earlier post of mine (Trade Rumours):

    BRIAN CAMPBELL (D); Buffalo Sabres; 28 years old; UFA; currently earning $1.75 million (cap hit of $1.5 million).

    Why the Habs Want Him: He’s a solid blueliner who’ll be entering the prime of his career.

    Why the Habs Won’t Get Him: Sabres GM Darcy Regier screwed up big time last year when he let both Chris Drury and Daniel Briere walk as UFAs and he won’t make the same mistake with Campbell. If Regier can’t sign him by the deadline, Campbell will be traded. The Habs, however, aren’t in the market for another top defenseman, especially one who will be looking for a big raise come July 1st.

  7. 24 Cups says:

    Chris – Some of us feel that it might be beneficial to make a smaller trade for a solid, experienced 4th defenseman to play alongside Hamrlik for the rest of the year. Not someone that would break the bank (Campbell, Boyle) but a large, stay at home type that can clear the front of the net and lay out a few hits. The only problem with that idea is that it would mean either Gorges or O’Byrne would have to sit out for the rest of the year and the playoffs. They wouldn’t gain any valuable experience. Do we stay the course or go for someone more seasoned? What are your thoughts on the matter?

    The Original 24 Cups

  8. dusty baker says:

    Defense doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem. Gorges is playing better and better, and O’Byrne has proven to be pretty solid. It’s just not worth the cost, in my opinion, as who do you give up to grab Campbell/Boyle? Is that cost worth the slight marginal benefit of playing them over Gorges/O’B? I don’t really think so. Habs need Ryder to turn into the goal scorer he has been, or get some second line help.

  9. aungthwin says:

    I don’t think that we should make a trade for a “solid, experienced 4th defenseman”. The way that Gainey has been building the team, I feel that he wants to make a run for the Cup next year. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to win the Cup this year – and I’m sure Gainey would too- but the best course of action may be to stay the course with our current roster and give all the young guys a taste of the playoffs. Imagine how confident we’d all feel next season if Gorges and O’Byrne have a playoff series or two under their belt. The Habs would have an elite defensive core with those two, along with Markov, Komisarek, Hamrlik and Boullion.

    That being said, I wouldn’t be completely idle before the deadline. I’d really like to see that big, faceoff winning, checking line center that you and others have mentioned before. If they can bring in a forward who’ll help shutdown the opposing teams’ best lines, it’ll make the D’s job that much easier.

  10. Blitzen says:

    I’m not calling for Smokes to be traded because no one will want him anyway. I’m calling for him to be perma-benched.
    _____________________________________________________
    Jesus Price: the Blocker, the Glove and the Holy Post

  11. Jonnyboy says:

    right beside cube.

  12. Rogie30 says:

    As far as moves go, if he has a good offer that wont harm our future, and adds some needed size to the foward lines, go for it. Cant get the picture of the last Habs -Sens game out of my mind.

  13. the Maritimer says:

    Chris,
    I have posted this twice already today, so one more time. Brad Richards would look real good with Koivu and Higgins, plus be another weapon on the power play and take some heat off the Kovalev line. I know it’s a big cap hit, but with Ryder, Smolinski, and possibly Huet gone next year and with the cap increase thay can swing it. Richards was Tampa’s best player in their Cup year and against Montreal is usually dynamite especially at the Bell Centre. He would have better stats on a more balanced team like Montreal.

    C’mon Bob, do it!!!!

  14. habitual says:

    You might be right about freeing up some bucks by year end, but you have to look at what the cap space is going to look like by the end 2009 when the Habs have to sign both RFAs and UFAs. For example, BG has to watch out that some team doesn’t wade in and make a Dustin Penner like offer for Komisarik – so BG will be considering a lengthy and costly extension for Komi – and, I hope, his buddy Higgins.

  15. 24 Cups says:

    Maritmer – Richards has three more years left on his contract at $7.8 mil a year. That cap hit is close to being one of the top 5 in the NHL. The Brad Richards of today is not even close to being one of the top forwards in the NHL. Plain and simple – the Bolts overpaid. Sure he would look good in a Habs uniform but what would you have to give up for him? He also would want to be the #1 centre over Pleks. He wouldn’t be playing with Koivu and Higgins because I’m sure Higgins would have to be part of the deal. Richards is a good player (but not a great player) who would totally destroy the equilibrium of our team based on what it would take to make the trade happen. I understand this is a matter that’s close to your heart but it just doesn’t suit where we are at right now as a team. Thanks, but no thanks.

    The Original 24 Cups

  16. Cable Guy says:

    One part of me thinks that Vinny would love to play in Montreal because he knows he’ll be a god here and we’d all love him. Another part of me thinks he probably won’t leave Tampa because he has relative anonymity there, great weather all year round, he probably has a boat and a house on the water etc… why give this up to play in Montreal?
    I couldn’t see Vinny driving around in his $250,000 Ferrari in the middle of winter here.

  17. coutNY says:

    But the frosted side of me, thinks he’ll go to a hockey market that will make him a legend of the game! Not going to happen in Tampa especially as they are fizzling each year tied up in unfavorable contracts of 3 or 4 players and are unable to sustain crowds to enable them to acquire supporting role players. They need to releave one of their forwards and get a top goalie or they’ll never find success. They should end up with a high draft pick this year to fill the void and if they trade Vinny they might have 2 or 3 picks. Picks are important because they get the quality support they need at a the price they can sustain.

    They’re treating their race horses like rented mules. Yeah they found success earlier playing forwards 25-30 minutes a game until now, late in the season heading toward the playoffs and they’re players don’t have the energy to make the playoffs.

  18. MikeL says:

    Grabovski just won the player of the week down in the AHL. I really do not see him being in the organization past the deadline. I’d say he is the first prospect that Gainey is offering and I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t involved in some sort of trade.

  19. mjames says:

    AK46 could also be the subject of an offer sheet by some team, so Gainey has to be careful. Do not be surprised if the Islanders go after Komi. The only saving grace is that we would get a boat load of draft choices from the Islanders. I do not think the Oilers will be a factor as they already spent the draft picks on Penner. Anyway Gainey needs $ flexibility for next year and therefore Richards would not be a wise move.

    mjames

  20. Derek says:

    That I think would be the stupidest move we could ever make. The Cube may not score often, but hes still +4. AND hes been playing along side usually crappy defensemen (no shot at Gorges, Streit or Brisebois, but they’re no Markov or Hamrlik). If that isn’t an indication of good defense stats, I don’t know what is.

  21. Gormdog says:

    And play… Breezer/Dandy/streit in his place?

    No thanks. I’ll take the toughest of the 4, by far, and the biggest hitter of the 4, by far.

  22. likehoy says:

    i think Crosby’s become available now that Malkin has turned it up.

  23. smart42 says:

    Got ‘em, got ‘em got ‘em, need ‘em…wait, need who? Bob seems to be winning, without blowing the future.

    I really think the trade deadline hysteria is akin to the 15 minutes before closing time at the local watering hole….CRAP! need someone to take home…anyone…she’ll do, no, not tall enough…O,K, that one!…no, three arms…wait, those two in the corner, no they’re with each other…can I work out a deal?…no, they want way too much in return, I won’t give up that!

    Stay the course, the boys are doing just fine.

    One mans opinion.


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