With just over 24 hours until Wednesday’s trade deadline, the Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin will be looking to improve the team. The Habs have been slumping as of late. Despite the improvement with Claude Julien at the helm, the Canadiens need to add pieces to compete for a Stanley Cup.
Marc Bergevin Could Be Busy at Trade Deadline
Centers that Could Interest the Habs
One piece that would really benefit the Habs, is a top-six center. With Hanzal already traded, there are no rental centers left on the market. If Bergevin wants to acquire a center, he will likely have to pay a high price. Some of the names that have been linked to the Habs over the linclude Matt Duchene and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The best center the Habs could trade for would likely be Nugent-Hopkins. While he may not have the skill that Duchene has, but the former first-overall pick would help. The reason why he would be a better option than Duchene is that his price tag is cheaper and he can still develop into a better player.
At just 23 years old, Nugent-Hopkins has faltered the past two seasons and would benefit from a change of scenery. This season, Nugent-Hopkins has put up only 30 points in 63 games with the Edmonton Oilers. Last season, he put up 34 points in 55 games. With that being said, Bergevin should step in to acquire the center. However, the fact that the Oilers are playing much better and looking like a playoff team, might mean that he is not on the market.
Considering that Nugent-Hopkins is a former first-round pick the price might be a little high. However, it will likely cost less than Duchene, for whom the Colorado Avalanche are reportedly commanding a high price, including Mikhail Sergachev to acquire his services. While Duchene is a great player, the trade would significantly damage the team’s future on defense. Despite that, finding elite centermen in the NHL is incredibly difficult. Bergevin has said on multiple occasions, the only time you can find an elite center is via the draft. However, there are two potential centers on the block that could solve the team’s need at center.
Some other darkhorse names that might be available include Valterri Filppula, and Jordan Staal.
Only time will tell if Bergevin pulls the trigger. Bergevin is known to bargain to get players, but this time he can’t do that if he wants to improve his team down the middle.
Improving Defensive Core
On Monday afternoon, the Canadiens sent defenseman Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round draft pick to the Dallas Stars for Jordie Benn. The Canadiens acquired a very good bottom-pairing defenseman in Benn, who could potentially play top-four minutes. Benn is likely to give the Canadiens a defensive boost on its third pairing.
However, the Habs have yet to acquire a puck-moving defenseman that could play alongside Shea Weber. If the Canadiens want to get the best out of their number one defenseman they need a good puck mover. Unfortunately, Nathan Beaulieu, who is likely the best option on the roster, is just not consistent enough.
There are multiple options on the trade block for Bergevin to find a puck-moving defenseman. There are many other options on the market such as Dmitry Kulikov, Johnny Oduya and former Hab Mark Streit. These players can move the puck and shoot left-handed which lets Weber play a more defensive style of play. They aren’t the best options for the future, but they are temporary solutions for a playoff run. Bergevin could find a way to acquire a more permanent defenseman for the top pairing but it’s unlikely.
Another need for the Canadiens is a scoring winger. With the Habs offense coming through only a handful of players, it’s clear the Habs need to add a scorer. By adding a rental player like Thomas Vanek, the Canadiens will able to be able to find some extra secondary scoring. Vanek has 15 goals, which would tie him for second in goals if he was playing for the Canadiens.
Eberle would be a nice piece to add for a playoff run. Despite never playing in a playoff game, Eberle speed and skill would be beneficial in the Habs having playoff success. However, it won’t be easy as he isn’t completely available at the deadline. Eberle is unlikely to be moved.
It’ll be interesting as the deadline comes closer what Bergevin will decide to do. One thing that is for sure is that if Habs are really all-in they must make a splash within the next 24 hours.