With the trade freeze in effect and rumours and rumblings making their way around here’s a holiday rumour round up.
Who’s on the block?
The following names have been involved in rumours recently. Max Paciorrety, Lars Eller, Andrei Markov, Raphael Diaz, Rene Bourque.
Who are potential targets?
The following players have been linked to the Habs:
PHI: Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier
COL: Duncan Siemens, Ryan O’Reilly, Paul Stastny
NYR: Michael Del Zotto
WIN: Evander Kane
Larry Brooks of the New York post suggested that Michel Therrien isn’t a big fan of Max Pacioretty but that Marc Bergevin would like to keep Max Pax around. That’s contradictory information if I’ve ever heard some. Why would a coach not like a guy who’s on pace for 40 goals? He’s also Therrien’s only real power forward. We all know that Bergevin loves the value of Patches contract, a cap hit of $4.5 million per year until 2018-19. What’s not to like? In fact I’m sure every NHL team would love to have a potential 40 goal scorer locked up for that long at that price, especially with the cap going up. Pacioretty may well become the best bargain in the NHL in years to come.
Who’s calling ?
Teams that approached the Canadiens according to Brooks, include the Flyers and the Isles. It is also rumoured the Jets and the Oilers have interest.
We’ve all heard the Evander Kane for Pacioretty rumours and they don’t really make sense. The Habs would be getting a similar player on a higher cap hit. Unless the Jets sweeten the deal, or pieces are added on both sides that is highly unlikely.
The Simmonds + Couturier and a pick rumour.
This is an interesting rumour, Bergevin has been keen on Simmonds since he has taken over as GM. The only thing that would make me hesitate in a deal like this, is that you are moving a guy with 40 goal potential for two players who have never and may never hit 30 goals per season. Larry brooks said: “Bergevin would like to keep him around.” It’s easy then, don’t trade him!
Patches with Tavares?
The other rumour is that the Islanders would be offering something that includes Tomas Vanek. Let’s be honest, there’s no way Patches is going anywhere for a slated-to-be-UFA player. Definitely not for one that would have a much higher cap hit than him if he were to be re-signed in Montreal. Regardless, it is said that Vanek wants to sign in Minnesota where he played his college hockey. I doubt this one will happen and if it does, it is pending Vanek being signed to a decent deal and a few quality prospects\picks coming to Montreal. Let it be noted that if I was an Isles fan I would be drooling at the idea of Pacioretty playing with Tavares for the Isles. It would be a perfect fit.
I like the Islanders as a trading partner, because Garth Snow seems more often than not to lose his deals. Which brings me to my last point. If Pacioretty is traded and that is a big IF, Marc Bergevin will have the upper hand in that deal. He won’t move him unless it’s a no brainer.
It’s no secret that Colorado has been scouting Montreal and vice versa for a while now. It’s believed that the Avs are looking for power play help in the form of Andrei Markov. The Habs have had their eyes on O’Reilly, prospect Siemens and Stastny has also been mentioned. Markov’s case is an interesting one. He is playing great hockey as of late and it is safe to say he has completely recuperated from his several knee injuries. He will be a UFA at the end of the season and most say he should be resigned, which I don’t disagree with. However, there are the following issues:
1) Term & Salary
Using Sergei Gonchar as a comparable, (he is receiving $5 million a year for the next two years, all at the ripe age of 39.) We can assume Markov is probably worth the 5.75 million cap average he is earning with the Canadiens. If you consider inflation, the taxes in Quebec, a GM who likes to get great value out of his contracts, a salary cap that is going up, and players that need to be resigned, you can see why re-signing an aging Markov is cause for debate. Especially is you have a great offer on the table.
On the open market he could probably get upwards of $6 million per year on a shorter term. I think he may be re-signed because he has huge value for the Habs, notably on the power play.
2) Playoff position
If the Habs fall out of playoff contention and they don’t believe they will able to re-sign him at a rate and term they are comfortable with, he will be moved and the return will be sizeable.
This one could go either way. I think it’s similar to the Pacioretty case: if the offer is good enough to make the team better now as well as later it will be done.
The blogger Eklund suggested that the New York Rangers were after Diaz.
The trade he speculated on was Diaz, a prospect and a pick for Michael Del Zotto. Anytime you can get a RFA for a UFA it’s never a bad deal. They are similar type players, Del Zotto is three years younger and is having a difficult time this season, but still has decent offensive upside. The downside of this is that Diaz is one of the few right-handed shots the Canadiens have and Del Zotto is yet another left-handed shot. As for the prospect involved, I would expect a lower to mid-end prospect that doesn’t really have a future with the Canadiens. Maybe Louis Leblanc?
Rumours about Eller go back to last season when a few teams inquired about him. As with the other players, if he is to be moved it should make the team better now and in the future. He is a valuable player to the team, is still young and slated for a nice raise. If he moves, expect Plekanec to get extended, as they are similar players with similar styles which may have an impact into Eller’s extended future with the Canadiens.
If he moves it will be as an add-on to a trade/salary dump. I would be surprised at any serious return for him.
What to expect ?
There are a few available options for Bergevin, one trade may even bring in another. Obviously, there are lots of things to take in consideration. Seeing as this is an Olympic year I believe, that like last time, many trades will go down in the weeks before the Olympic break. I also believe that Bergevin won’t make a move if he hasn’t fleeced the other GM or at least comes out on top. On that note have a happy new year!
By Mike Gowing
Add me on twitter @habsosaurus