HI/O Show: Is Vanek the missing link for Habs?

Canadiens fans were thrilled after general manager Marc Bergevin acquired Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders just before the 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline on Wednesday, with 96 per cent of the more than 3,000 votes on an HI/O poll saying they were happy with the job the GM did.

So, is Vanek  – who has two 40-goal and two 30-goal seasons in the NHL – the missing link for the Canadiens as they chase that elusive 25th Stanley Cup?

That’s one of the questions asked on this week’s HI/O Show as former Canadien Chris Nilan and Gazette columnist Dave Stubbs join sports editor/host Stu Cowan to discuss the trade-deadline moves.

Other topics of discussion include the addition of defenceman Mike Weaver in a trade with the Florida Panthers and the acquisition of 6-foot-6 goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the Nashville Predators and the job Canadiens goalie coach Stéphane Waite might be able to do with him. Also, why do so many fans think Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien isn’t doing a good job?

There’s also talk about what the heck is going on in Vancouver after the Canucks traded goalie Roberto Luongo to the Florida Panthers, and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s decision to trade a disgruntled Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers.

(Photo by Sterling Agres / HI/O Show)


  1. gigolo aunt says:

    Knuckles is a very perceptive guy.
    It was obvious to me that Vanek would be a rental and would definately not be here next year but it didn’t occur to me the reality that he would purposely not perform because he wants to stay healthy for the big pay day this summer.
    Turns out,this was in reality a very bad move by MB.

  2. ffenliv says:

    Acoording to capgeek, the Habs have no one signed for the 2019-2020 season. It’s going to be very difficult to win games with no one on the ice. MB is a failure.

  3. Ozmodiar says:

    Good to hear Vanek will be on the LW. I was a little worried they’d try to put him on the right side.

  4. GenerationYHabs says:

    Has there been any updates on Bozon’s condition?

  5. crane says:

    To bad we never pushed for one more good forward,be sitting in the finals for sure.

  6. Timo says:

    LOL, Normand Flynn just called Collberg a european Louis Leblanc.

  7. habsfan0 says:

    Before this road trip started,I called the Habs to get 6 out of 8 points.
    Of course,that was before the Vanek trade.
    If he had played in all 4 games,I would have said 8/8.

  8. Failstonegotiatecontact says:

    Call me crazy but didn’t Vanek and Briere combine for 172 points in 06-07. I’d like to see them together again. What do you guys think?

    Not hung up in my paraphernalia!

  9. DipsyDoodler says:

    On another topic, three of Phoenix’s four lines are centered by ex-Habs. I just saw tonight’s lineups by the way, I had no idea.

    Moving. Forward.

  10. Habcouver says:

    I don’t thing Weise deserves to sit. I admire his grit since becoming a Hab.

    We Are (Not) All Canucks.
    Proudly Canadian but passionately Canadien!

  11. 24 Cups says:

    I really like what Chris Nilan brings to these video chats. Kind of like watching Johnny Miller on the golf telecasts.

    • CJ says:

      I hand it to Miller. He let’s everyone have it. Boy, he and Brandel Chamblee are two of the most outspoken national broadcasters in any sport.

  12. Ron says:

    Vanek with Plex and Gio. Van gets LW

  13. Alvin says:

    D MEX
    Do not take up comedy for a living. You will not be happy or funny.
    You will not be invited as a guest comedian at the Just For Laughs Festival.
    Do not remove the ” REPLY ” button while trying to be a smart a$$

  14. Ron says:

    Eller back in, Weise, Parros and Boo out.

  15. CJ says:

    Is Vanek the missing piece? No, but he helps address a need. Not to sound like a wet rag, but Vanek is a scorer and scorers can run hot and cold. He is not a one dimensional player, but getting to the net and scoring goals are what he does best. I’m not even looking ahead to what his next contract might be and am focused on the here and now. I just want to temper expectations somewhat. I still see some major holes on defence and I need to see how the new line combinations gel before I offer a stronger opinion.

    This move will help add a goal scoring dimension that we didn’t have before. It helps to redistribute the work load, and reassign roles and responsibilities in the process. Finally, it puts the team and league on notice that Montreal has undergone a complete transformation. It now seems like a lifetime ago that media types were talking about a lack of class, no communication and disorganization (anyone remember the Ryan White mistake in Ottawa – failed to add him to roster with a league notified call up. Was on the bench and had to leave). Long ago were the days of no cookies in the press box, trading a player during the game and firing coaches minutes and hours before puck drop.

    Do we deserve to be excited, absolutely! Things are coming up Canadiens. Our draft class last season was regarded as one of the best. Our drafting allowed us to make this move. We haven’t locked into a long term contract that could restrict moves in the years ahead. The management group is a tried and tested team who will not bend to public opinion or couch potatoes like myself. This is a good thing. I can’t help but think that this is a major transformation.

    So, do we have a chance, yes, of course. Do I think we can win a playoff series, I do. Health and playoff match up will go a long way to determining our fate.

    Lastly, as I noted earlier today, I think the league has shifted towards pairing players as opposed to lines. To this end, I think we have the following four sets of forwards;

    Pleks and Gio
    DD and Max
    Chucky and Vanek
    White and Weise

    Everyone else can wheel around this group. As noted earlier, I like Galley to stay put. I’d not hesitate to give Moen a defensive role with Pleks and Gio to shut down the oppositions top players. I’d also be comfortable with Bournival, but Moen gets the nod with Stanley cup experience. Prust goes on the fourth unit. I’d try Briere or Eller with 27 and 20.

    Bourque and Parros are out.

    Just my two cents…Enjoy the game everyone! Cheers, CJ

  16. jols says:

    Even if Vanek loves MTL, once he gets a load of the buffoonery that is Therrien, he will be running for the exits.

  17. DipsyDoodler says:

    If Vanek floats (why is this even suggested?) maybe Minny reconsiders its supposed plan to sign him? Maybe they just sign Moulson instead?

    Moving. Forward.

    • Alvin says:

      Minny will sign them both

    • 24 Cups says:

      I feel it might be a valid question. Vanek wouldn’t be the first guy to do that. I think it’s fair to say that Vanek’s intensity level in the past has been in the good but not great range. However, he might just get caught up in the rush that’s certainly going to build in the near future. Playing with Pleks and Gionta, two guys who always bring it, might just help light the fire.

  18. JUST ME says:

    Vanek may just well be the missing link and chances are he is. An athlete of his caliber should remove pressure from some athletes that are nor performing up to par (need names ?) and help them produce under less pressure . I do not know if Vanek is the real deal cause to be it, he needs to make his teammates better as a certain adored number 51 is one of the only habs to do.

    As if to know if he will sign a new deal here it all depends whether he wants to thrive in the one and only place for hockey in the world. I have no doubt that those few games he will get to play here this season will be the most significant and fulfilling of his carreer. Bell center is THE place.

  19. piter says:

    I think it’s bu77$h1t that the League is forgiving New Jersey’s cap circumvention fine and giving them their 1st round pick back in this years draft. Remember, New Jersey was found guilty by an independent arbitrator of cap circumvention in the contract of Kovalchuk, they weren’t just accused of it. I’m upset with the League for caving. It sets a bad precedent. Way to stick by your guns there, NHL. It must sure be helpful to have your GM as a member of the “good old boys club”. The League and the Officiating are complete JOKES!!!!!!!

  20. Alvin says:

    Like Knuckles said Vanek is in a contract year. He won’t be doing anything to injure himself that’s for sure. Don’t be surprised if he gives a lot less than 100%. He knows Minny has got a place already and waiting for him so he doesn’t have to prove a thing.
    It will be the Habs getting Vanek headed towards the Stanley Cup not the other way around.

    • Gerry H says:

      Players in contract years almost always overperform. I can’t think of a single example of a player “playing it safe” in a contract year. And when they do play softer, it costs them.

  21. Gerry H says:

    Nilan’s point about Vanek “playing to not get hurt” is codswallop. C’mon. Nothing but the most devastating injury would affect his FA value much, certainly no more than being playoff bust for the Habs.

    The guy’s a hockey player with a track record of going for it under all circumstances (just look at this season). There is no reason for him to change now.

  22. Since we’re all doing this, here goes. MB has done a masterful job here, IMO. Here’s what our salary situation looks like next year if we re-sign our core: $5M in cap space.

    Thomas Vanek ($7.500m) / Alex Galchenyuk ($0.925m) / Daniel Briere ($4.000m)
    Max Pacioretty ($4.500m) / David Desharnais ($3.500m) / Brendan Gallagher ($0.685m)
    Lars Eller ($1.500m) / Tomas Plekanec ($5.000m) / Michael Bournival ($0.660m)
    Brandon Prust ($2.500m) / Ryan White ($0.750m) / Dale Weise ($0.788m)
    Travis Moen ($1.850m) /
    Andrei Markov ($5.750m) / P.K. Subban ($7.000m)
    Nathan Beaulieu ($0.925m) / Josh Gorges ($3.900m)
    Jarred Tinordi ($0.870m) / Alexei Emelin ($4.100m)
    Douglas Murray ($1.500m) /
    Carey Price ($6.500m)
    Peter Budaj ($1.400m)

    (estimations for 2014-15)
    SALARY CAP: $71,100,000; CAP PAYROLL: $66,102,500; BONUSES: $3,257,500
    CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $4,997,500

    Devils coach Jacques Lemaire on the Daneyko-Kaminski feud – “Daneyko got mad when Kaminski said he was going to knock his teeth out. Dano has only two teeth left, so you can’t say that to Dano.”

    • GrimJim says:

      I suppose I’m nitpicking but the team runs a 23 man roster, not a 22 man roster. Plus there are rumours going around that because the Canadian dollar is dropping the cap may only be $68mil. That would still give to 1.8mil for an 8th dman like weaver or drewskie or pateryn.

    • CJ says:

      IMO, that’s as good a lineup as I could hope to have. I agree with your subtractions (Gio, Parros, Bourque, Bouilion, Weaver). I’m on the fence with Murray. Love what the big man has done since January, but I wonder what will be left in the tank. I recall him having a tough playoff as the series wound down. I’d probably lean to having Pateryn or a UFA, and I’d like to see if we could grab Luke Gadzic or Joel Rechlicz just to keep a face puncher as our 23rd for those special occasions.

      Going in with an open mind, so here’s to hoping that he is in a better position this year. Cheers, CJ

  23. Cal says:

    Since the Great Bellyful has not graced these pages lately, I take it upon myself to do a very cheap imitation:

    March 5th, 2:55PM EST
    Deep in the bowels of the Bell Centre

    Lightning flashes continuously, illuminating a large cavern filled with all kinds of late-nineteenth and early twentieth century machines spread out across a vast bedrock floor. Twenty-four Cups are piled precariously in one of the corners; the topmost has twenty-one years of accumulated dust on it, obscuring its now-forgotten lustre. Two figures stand in the shadows; one is hunched over one of the machines, his hand latched onto a black knob.

    Thunder rolls, causing EyeGore to stuff his stubby thumb into his one good cauliflower ear and cringe like a frightened puppy. Steam rises from the top of his head; yet another curly hair has just been burnt to a crisp, the victim of yet another lightning strike. The hair crumbles onto his pate as a single tear slides down his grubby cheek.

    “I TOLD YOU TO TURN IT OFF, YOU MEAT HEAD!” An over-large claw-like hand clutches EyeGore’s shoulder, its talons digging into the shoulder of his ratty old coat. EyeGore jerks away, inadvertently turning the lightning machine off. The sudden silence leaves Eye Gore’s ear ringing. He pulls his thumb out of it, a great bog gob of yellowy wax drips ever so slowly onto the floor.

    The owner of the claw-like hand lets out a long sigh. “Aaaaaaaaahh, that’s better my pet. I knew that arrogant SOB Yzerman wouldn’t return my calls.” EyeGore eyeballs the one he calls Master, patiently waiting. His years of doggedly loyal service keep him silent. Master slides his Iphone into his back pocket. EyeGore knows his Master has a flair for the dramatic, even when it is no big thing.
    Immaculately dressed in a black tuxedo with a dashing bright red kerchief peeking from its breast pocket, his Master cradles his right elbow in the palm of his left hand. The nails of his right hand toy with his wisp of a beard as his deathly pale visage frowns. EyeGore knows Master is using all his mental powers to resuscitate The Season that is lying on a slab nearby. As is his wont in times of crisis, Master talks to himself.
    “Whatever can I do now? St. Louis has gone to New York thanks to that miserable ogre Sather. As if I couldn’t have offered more and convinced that gold medal winning freak in Tampa. Well, it is of no moment now. What to do?” Master turns his gaze upon EyeGore, who intuitively flinches and cowers.
    “What do you think, Michel?” he asks, his voice dropping into a menacing rasp. Still, the sound reverberates in EyeGore’s brain. Suddenly itchy, Eyegore scratches his head. A single flake of dandruff detaches and rests on his still waxy thumb; it glows in the eerie light of the machines.

    “Eh, what’s that? Why, EyeGore, that flake is as white as….I’ve got it!!” In one smooth motion, Master’s Iphone fills with light as he presses it to his ear. “Garth? Hi, it’s me…Marc. Have I got a deal for you….”

    Moments later…

    Master’s voice shouts in triumph, his eyes glowing like dark coals, “It’s alive!! Muahhahahahahh! It’s alive!” Over on the slab, The Season springs to life….

  24. The Jackal says:

    If it was really a lock that Vanek was going to sign with Minny, then why wouldn’t Minny just trade for him instead of Moulson? That way they get more than a rental – they get a roster player for a low price. Hell, they could have added both guys if they really wanted to and just let Moulson walk after.

    Hockey sine stercore tauri.

    • ffenliv says:

      Right now, the wild have 147k in cap space. I don’t think there was really a scenario where they could have gotten them both.

      Maybe the Moulson deal came first? Maybe they thought the price on Vanek would be too high? Maybe Garth Snow dislikes the Wild GM because of the colour of his car? Hard to say.

  25. I think all you have to do is look back at the Habs bench last night during the shootout to know we won this trade already. Whether or not Vanek departs after the season or not, the lads got a great boost of confidence from their GM. Body language spoke volumes.

    I also don’t think he’ll just float for the rest of the year, no offence Knuckles, but if he wants to really cash in he can’t just quit.

    Added to this is the fact that we really gave up nothing for him other than one out of a group of prospects who are basically similar players. They may or may not pan out. I’m okay with dealing one or two. Since we paid pretty much nothing, again, it’s a great deal.

    So, mostly for the first reason and partly because of the second and third notes, this trade is already golden.

    Defense wins championships

  26. savethepuck says:

    Haven’t had time to read anything. Any word on line combos for tonight yet?

    “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
    Carey Price

  27. Bash says:

    Really curious about the lines down the stretch. Who is going to sit??
    Where to play Galchenyuk?

    Vanek Pleks Gionta
    Pac Davey Gallagher
    Galchenyuk Eller Briere/Bourque
    Weiss/ Prust White Moen/Bournival

    “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” (anon)

  28. Marc10 says:

    Let’s just assume Vanek is going to the Wild next year. No big deal. If he wants to get full value on the money, he’ll want to help the Habs as much as he can.

    Injuries shouldn’t be a concern for him. He needs to come in and do his thing… ie, fill the net and make our PP lethal. He does that and the dollars will rain down.

    • habcertain says:

      I think Nilan makes a good point, he is not going to get a contract thru this last 18 games, his rep has been established, and surely does not want to jeopardize his biggest contract with a serious injury.

      • Mr_MacDougall says:

        He could also fill the net but never take a hit to make a play.. It could be a good and bad thing..

        ~~ Plekanec at the Disco ~~

      • Marc10 says:

        I don’t know. Why show the League you’re a floater… ever. If you do, no one will even make you an offer and Minny will get you for a lot less than you’re really worth.

        I say pull a ‘Moen’. Play your contract year like it’s a playoff game and reap the rewards. Float like a ‘Ryder’ when it matters and see what happens to your paycheck.

        I’m betting Vanek plays like it matters. There’s more than a mil a year difference in contracts between stud playoff performers and floaters.

  29. 416erHabsFan says:

    Do you guys think MB is actually going to sign Vanek to a new contract? or is he just a rental? I’m really not to sure whether to be excited on our newest acquisition.

  30. naweed235 says:

    In no scenario would the Montreal management look bad down the stretch for having made this trade. Even in the worse case, where we get eliminated in the 1st round and Vanek bolts, we didn’t give up the barn for him. MB gave this team a REAL chance to compete and that’s all that matters.

  31. GL says:

    Vanek was one of the missing links. If we could have gotten Matt Moulson or Stansty from Colorado along with Vanek a Stanley cup would have been in our sights. Unless some team can knock of a couple of the top teams in the East and West there will be no chance at winning the cup ….. even with Vanek.

  32. ProHabs says:

    Apparently Garth Snow has never even seen Sebasion Collberg play and doesn’t really know a whole lot about the guy. Now that is funny.

  33. Prop says:

    Knuckles makes some valid points about Vanek. If he floats during the rest of the season, management may look like they were the ones who got the short end of the deal. Hopefully he will be part of the teamconcep.


    • Rugger says:

      I get what Chris is saying, but it is his UFA year and if he floats he could easily lose over a million/year in his next contract. I suspect he will be giving 110% to maximize offers.

    • Maritime Ronn says:

      That was an excellent point by Nilan.
      Will Vanek play, ” not to get hurt?”

      Here’ having confidence in Marc, Rick, and Larry in that with their wealth of experience and contacts, they already know the answer to that character question.

  34. Ron says:

    Great show guys. All good points. Especially hope TV plays to win.

  35. UKRAINIANhab says:

    Leafs suck.

  36. Maksimir says:

    Third? Line?

  37. Danno says:

    Chara is the missing link between man and ape


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”
    Updates, highlights & great discussions on all things Habs

  38. Just A Guy says:


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