The entire Last Word on Hockey team wishes all our American readers a happy Thanksgiving as we delve into another Thursday’s worth of NHL Rumours. Every day, our site provides a recap and detailed analysis of trade and signing rumours from around the league. American Thanksgiving is often seen as a measuring point for teams, so with that in mind, they start to turn an eye to the future. Today, we’ll cover the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres.
Rumour: Per Russian reporter Igor Eronko on Twitter, Habs general manager Marc Bergevin is beginning contract talks with prized prospect Alexander Romanov.
— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) November 27, 2019
Analysis: Canadiens fans are certainly becoming worried about their defence. Montreal has allowed 16 goals in their last three games and 14 in their past two, leaving goalies Carey Price and Keith Kinkaid hung out to dry. While Montreal hasn’t had huge issues scoring, they’re developing some troublesome patterns defensively, especially at even strength.
This is where Romanov comes in. First off, he’s a left-shot D, a position of weakness for Montreal at this point. Players like Victor Mete, Ben Chiarot, and Brett Kulak are all capable but don’t jump off the page. Romanov is playing with CSKA Moscow of the KHL this year, and while he hasn’t impressed offensively (three points in 29 games), he’s held his own defensively against much older players with a +10 rating. In junior competitions, though, his offence has shown through. At last year’s World Junior Championships, Romanov put up eight points in seven games. While he’s not the biggest player, either (5′ 11″, 183 lbs), he’s a solid two-way skater who’s game meshes very well with the NHL. If Bergevin can convince him to come to North America for next season or even the remainder of this one, it’ll be a huge plus for the Canadiens.
“Specific to Montreal, here’s the thing I’m going to watch most closely until the trade deadline or until a trade happens – Taylor Hall…”
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) November 28, 2019
Analysis: What a boost this would be. It would be a huge boost for any team, but Montreal, unlike others mentioned in the running for Taylor, lacks a true offensive superstar. Defensively, you could easily make the argument for Shea Weber, but no-one has emerged as a star yet on offence.
Montreal is a team that’s on the cusp of entering a contention stage once again, and they also have a boatload of talented prospects, including the aforementioned Romanov. They certainly have the capital to make New Jersey happy with their return, and Hall could thrive in a larger market where he’ll have a better chance to win sooner rather than later. Montreal has their star d-man and star goalie, this could be the acquisition that thrusts them towards their first Stanley Cup since 1993. He’d presumably get to play with either Phillip Danault or Max Domi, two centremen that would see boosts in their totals by feeding Hall the puck. This isn’t to discount the contributions that players like Tomas Tatar or Brendan Gallagher have made to the team this year, however, a true start like Hall would help Montreal become a contender once again.
— James (@Account4hockey) November 27, 2019
Analysis: Miller hasn’t seen things go his way at all in Buffalo. He broke out playing for the Vegas Golden Knights as a very capable two-way defender who could stand his own on the power play, as well. In two seasons with Vegas, he had 70 points in 147 games, almost a 0.50 points per game pace. In Buffalo, however, he’s managed to only notch four assists in 19 games played this season. As a matter of fact, he’s been a healthy scratch on occasion as well.
While a team may be willing to take a gamble on Miller, it’s an uncomfortably expensive proposition. He’s making almost $4 million against the cap, and while that’s a reasonable number for the play he was putting up in Vegas, if Miller truly has regressed this year, that’s a stark overpayment. Considering that Buffalo is aiming to get a top-six winger out of this prospective trade, they’ll have to sweeten the pot in order to get their desired return.
Embed from Getty Images