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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Montreal Canadiens' Best Bait for the NHL Trade deadline

With a little more than one month to go before the NHL 2012 trade deadline (February 27th, 2012 at 3PM EDT), the Montreal Canadiens are desperately trying to make the playoffs.

After 48 games, the Canadiens hold the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind the Washington Capitals who hold the eighth and final playoff spot (53 points). The Habs have not made things easier on themselves, playing weak hockey over their last ten games and going 4-4-2 in the process.

After trading disgruntled sniper Mike Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames in exchange for rugged forward Rene Bourque on, look for GM Pierre Gauthier to continue making changes.

While some fans still hope the Canadiens will be buyers this season, it would be wise for the organization to retool its depleted farm system, acquire prospects and picks to make the team younger.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Canadiens have a mere 14.8% chance of making the playoffs this season.

With that in mind, let's have a look at the Canadiens' best potential trade baits before or on trade deadline day:

Andrei Kostitsyn

The inconsistent winger will certainly attract teams looking for an offensive boost, despite his inconsistent play. The Russian sniper, who will turn 27 in February, will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

AK46, who is making $3.25 million this season, has expressed his interest to stay in Montreal, willing to take a home-town discount. But the 6'0'', 215 lb, has only notched 11 goals and added 11 assists for 21 points in 38 contests with Montreal.

One of the streakiest players in the league, Kostitsyn has reached the 20-goal plateau three times during his career which makes him an attractive and affordable acquisition for a team looking to add depth up front.

Montreal should really consider trading him as he likely fetch a pick and a prospect at the deadline. If he's not signed in the upcoming two or three weeks, look for AK46 to be donning another sweater by March.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Penguins, Devils, Panthers, Predators, Wild and Kings

Chris Campoli

A few days before the season started, the Canadiens signed him to a $1.75-million, one-year contract as an insurance policy. Campoli, who was mainly signed because All-Star Andrei Markov had a few setbacks during his rehabilitation from off-season knee injury, sustained a hamstring injury in his first game with the Habs.

A frequent healthy scratch after his return from injury, Campoli never really settled in his role as a seventh defenseman. In 13 games, the 27 year-old blue liner has only one goal and one assist.

Look for Campoli to be traded for a 4th or 5th round draft pick before the deadline.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Blackhawks, Sharks, Devils and Blues

Hal Gill

An experienced penalty killer, Gill has seen his ice-time dwindle under Randy Cunneyworth. But he remains a force on the man-disadvantage, as evidenced by the Habs 89.4% penalty kill efficiency, good for first place in the NHL.

A Stanley Cup winner, Gill is the kind of player that is in high demand come deadline day. His playoff experience can certainly help a team looking for a veteran presence on their bottom defensive pairing.

Look for Gill to fetch a second round draft pick.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Flyers, Penguins, Sharks, Panthers, Stars and Avalanche

Travis Moen

Another Stanley Cup winner, Moen is a proven veteran that offers size, grit and toughness. Moen can also chip in the occasional goal as shown by his 16 points (9G, 7A) this season.

Making only $1.5 million this year, Moen is also an adept penalty killer and a good skater. The 6'2, 217 lbs left winger will be a hot commodity in the next few weeks.

While the Habs may be interested in re-signing the 29 year-old, it would be better to maximize his value and trade him for a prospect and a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Canucks, Red Wings, Sharks, Predators and Senators

Yannick Weber

After a tough start, the power-play specialist has been in and out of the line-up this season. Weber, who has scored all of his four goals with the man-advantage, has also been used as the team's 12th forward during many games.

Making $850,000 this year and next, Weber doesn't seem to fit in the organization's plans anymore. Especially with the emergence of countryman Raphael Diaz and bruiser Alexei Emelin.

The Habs will be looking for another prospect, most likely a forward, in exchange for the Swiss defender.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Oilers, Islanders, Lightning and Blue Jackets

Mathieu Darche

The journeyman forward is having a very tough season with Montreal, after scoring 12 goals and adding 14 assists for 26 points in 59 games last season. This year, Darche has been unproductive to say the least, notching only two goals and adding four helpers for six points in 48 games.

The impending UFA might interest a team looking for depth on the fourth line and help on the penalty kill. Darche is making only $700,000, so his salary will be easy to fit under the cap.

Darche could fetch a late round pick or a disappointing prospect.

Scott Gomez

Frankly, most Canadiens' fans would like to see Gomez traded for a bag of pucks and a used jock-strap, but it won't happen this year.

With a cap hit of $7,357,143 this season, the Alaskan center has not scored a goal in more than 50 games—his last goal was on February 5th, 2011.

This season, Gomez has again been a major disappointment for the Habs, playing only 18 games and recording a brutal six assists.

Gomez is also -19 over the past two campaigns in Montreal. No one, not even the Habs want him. Gomez is simply going anywhere.

So what do you think? Who do you think are the mostly likely players to be traded?

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Follow Fred on Twitter for more updates on the Canadiens and the NHL in general.

(Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images North America)

37 comments:

Good stuff Fred!

I think out of all the players you mentioned above, Kostitsyn is the one who is most intriguing.

He is a player who is worth keeping but Gauthier needs to know, ASAP, if he can re-sign him or not.

If he feels Kostitsyn wants upward of $4 mil per season or just can't come to terms with the Habs, he needs to be moved. That is the type of thing that could turn around fast.

Gauthier is actively scouting the Western conference so you know he already has a deal or two (seven??) in the works.

If I was sitting in the GM's chair, I would trade every single one of the players you mentioned for prospects and picks.

A move like that could serious strengthen the depth of this team and help solidify the future.

Things are sure to get spicy over the next month!

Of the guys you mentioned I can honestly see Gauthier packaging 1 or 2 players in a move. The likely destination appears to be LA IMO.

With the nagging injuries to Simon Gagne LA is fairly weak on left wing which for some reason is an asset that we have plenty of.

My guess is AK46 and Weber are dealt to LA. In return Montreal will take Penner for the balance of the year and then as a favor LA will offer something of real value.

Great Article!

I also believe AK will be leaving the Habs before the trade deadline, but what about thomashhhhh Plekanec? That is if you believe everything that RDS is spitting out.

Also, what about the Subban trade rumors that were heard around the Washington lost?

Lastly, I would be sad to see Moen go, but please stop parring him on the second/first line!

@Bryan: you could be right. Gauthier has been scouting the Western conference pretty heavily for the last week or so. Anaheim and now L.A.

He is certainly working on something and putting together a package seems like the right move. Especially if he KNOWS he can't/won't re-sign AK46.

@Chicoine: I'd be surprised to see Plekanec moved. That doesn't mean it won't happen. But if Montreal moves him they MUST get a legit No.1 center back in return. Otherwise they are doomed.

As it is, I'd love to see them pick up an Elite, legit No.1 center while keeping Plekanec. This way, Plek would get bumped down to 2nd center...a position he would excel at.

Like Koivue before him, the Habs are wasting Plekanec's best years by putting him in the No.1 spot. He's not a No.1 center.

As for Subban, well, anything is possible, but I seriously doubt he'll be trade. He too young and has too much upside, imo. If they moved him I think that is a decision they'd end up regretting!

I'd love to see Subban moved but only if they can get a legit #1 centre in some kind of package. I think Subban has almost peaked. Most forwards have a book on him now and know how he only uses one hand on his stick when the puck is dumped into his corner. I like Sooby but do his teammates like him???? Get something for him now.

PK is still a kid at 22 years of age the Canadiens put him a position, that any young man even though he is very talented has to grow into. PK is only a second year NHLer I think your forgetting that little matter. I feel for the position he has been but in by the Habs he has done very well. Last season 2010-2011 he had Hal Gill as his defense partner he kept the kid calm, this year he has been partnered with Josh Gorges who himself is twenty seven. For this kid too show is talent as he will he needed that calming force from Hal again this year. The biggest problem with PK is that he needs to slow down and not panic when trying to make plays especially in his own end. There is no doubt in my mind that this young man will be a star but everybody wants it yesterday, that is not going to happen he probably needed another year in Hamilton. But because of circumstances due too injuries he was put in a awkward position. PK kind of reminds me of Carey Price when he came up everyone wanted him run out of town on a rail. Carey told them all to chill and is becoming one the better goalie's in the league. Trading PK for a #1 centre would be stupid, the Canadiens need his defensive skills and they are already getting bigger up front. PK will mature and then everyone who is anyone will love the kid including the other teams whose skin he gets under. Patience people Patience!!!

wiley are you nuts? Penner? Are you serious? The guy is just as bad a Gomez.

@anon

Think long term. I have no interest in Penner but we have the cap space to take him for the balance of the year and then let him walk for nothing. By doing this LA frees cap space so in return they sweeten the return. Give us a first rounder, maybe more.

This is the creative managing that turns average teams into cotendwrs by getting assets they otherwise wouldn't have.

Wow, you guys need to chill out on Subban give the kid a chance,it's his 2nd year and he has amazing skill,speed,and shot. It's unfortunate that the media could spoil this kid's chance to excel in Montreal,everything this kid does is magnified so bad. If they trade him it would be a HUGE mistake
GO HABS

Yes, we need to be very patient with young defensemen as they tend to struggle in their sophomore year. He's always in the spotlight because our defensive corps is too thin and he has to play 25 mins per game.

If Markov can't come back next year, we'll need to surround him better with a reliable veteran like Hamrlik.

And yes nobody is bad a Gomaize!

sophmore slump that's it, that'all , stupid idea to trde away that much talent!

I would be ok with parting ways with AK46 and Weber as I think that there is some real return value there for the Habs. I was surprised last year when the Habs didn't pursue the likes of Peverly, Horton, Eager to name a few. Guys who play reasonably tough and with an edge. I would like Clifford from LA and another grinding player who would make Montreal a tougher team. I would like to Moen stay as a Hab. I want to trade Gauthier!

Trade Ak and plekanec for Getzlaf throw throw campoli in as well.

Moron!!! why would Anahiem make that deal?

@anon re: Anaheim

If Anaheim somehow trades Getzlaf then you can guarantee Plekanec will be going the other way but then Montreal would have to add some assets of real value. The likely name to be included would have to be Subban. If not him then surely one of Tinordi or Beaulieu and then an additional asset like a young roster player or a pick.

Anaheim has no need to trade Getzlaf at all.

If I was Molson the only change I would make would be to fired that Loser Gauthier. I hope they will not wait as long as they did with Gainey otherwise the CH will go no where for years, Why trade Cammy why not trade that welfare player Gomez, I am 64 years old and i score more often than Gomez at7.5 million that was a real joke singning him so high. Now you guys want AK to go but me i think the day Gauthier will be out AK will produce. He ( Gauthier) turned all the rosters in the ch against him by trading Cammy.

The only thing to do is to buy Gomez's contract and ship him home has they did with my favorite player Laraque so if they could do it to Laraque they sure can do it to Gomez

@Anon (last one)

It was a joke signing Gomer for that money, but that was the Rangers decision. Montreal traded to obtain him. Which, I concede, is not much better at all!

Habs addict ... isn't AK Belarusian? In any case, I'd hate to see the lug go but obviously sometimes things have to change. Wonder if PG could pry Suter out of Nashville with AK and some spare D parts. Think of the marketing gimmick if Nash. had Weber and Weber as a D pairing. Okay, I dream but isn't that what life is all about?

Suter for kostitsyn, Weber and Gill...id love to see him in Montréal. Otherwise i keep AK, he fits well in the bigger lineup and has less pressure. I would think of shopping gionta as much as i like him, it would definately change the dressing room..besides gorges seems fitting as our next caps, and hes an ironman for us. Weber, Gill, moen, darche, campoli, gio, all out for some picks and another Bourque.

Who's better Gomez or gauthier
Who would u rather see gone
I would say PG

With Gorges, PK, Diaz, Emelin and Kabrele, Habs have a good mix of D-men. That makes Gill available to be moved for a 2nd or 3rd rd pick. Moen will be replaced by White or Leblanc. It would be nice to keep AK but not if we get a good offer for him from some other team. He's still young with good talent.
Overall your assessment of available player seems quite correct. Good job

How about a deal with Chicago? And while we're at it, let's bring huet back as backup next year at $1M and send Budaj packing. I find AK too inconsistent and would be glad to see him go. Blunden cost us the game tonight, but we need him--and Moen, too. Plek terrible +/- this year is mystifying, but he's got to stay. I keep hoping that Gomez will come alive again. But it seems likely he will be bought out or buried in the minors next year.Lack of good prospects in the pipeline is really worrisome. We could be looking at several years out of the playoffs, unless desharnais and leblanc turn into superstars. I love Gill, but the +/- is beginning to weigh heavily. Predict that Markov's retirement will be announced in the offseason.

I liked to see Subban for Couturier and a pick, I think he could be the big centre we are looking for. He will only get bigger and better and would look pretty good in a Habs uniform with Gallagher on the wing for year to come.

I don't think the Flyers will trade Couturier as he's been very impressive lately and he'll only get better!

pk is a forward, not a defenseman and the sooner they realize that the better--move him up !

We have to be patient with Subban and surround him better with more veterans on the blue line, not trade him for a bag of pucks and a used jock-strap!

@Fred

Agreed. Patience with Subban. Habs have lost so many good d-man over the last decade, it needs to stop.

Talents like his don't come along every day.

keep pk for sure gomez is doing hoeeible this season i like him but he's got to go, ak would be good to trade for some 3rd or 4th round pick or someone younger an full of enthusiasm an wanting to score goals moen is a good player he fits well in montreal an is a good grinder if we have to trade him find another grinder jus as good or better we need to toughen up our team we look like a bunch of pussies out there we need to start hitting harder an being more aggressive thats for dam sure !!! go habs go !!! lets see 25th cup come to the bell center would be epic!!!!!

Dump Gomez and that contract ASAP.
PK will develop into a great D man, give it a few years.
Get some size up front for god's sake.

hey! Really good write-up. While I agree that the Habs could be in a position to build next year's team by unloading some cap space, I'm just not ready to give up on this season. I think perhaps we need to learn to love the team we have now and focus on what they CAN do, instead of how much each player costs. They just blanked out the Maple Leafs to get their fourth win in a row... that says something about our team's talent. I say we wait and see. For more on this subject, please visit my site, www.habs7.com. If you're a fan of this site, as I've been for a while, you might like what I've put together as well.

You're right Christian, the Habs now have to wait what will happen after that four-game winning streak. I'm not sure they are sellers anymore. The next week will determine what happens with four games in six days!

As much as I love the Habs, I don't like their playoff chances this year. Even if they get in, they're a #8 or, at best, #7 team. Then they would get bounced out--most likely swept--by the Rangers or Bruins.

I'd say get rid of everybody besides Price, PK, Gorges and Plekanec. About PK, people have to remember that defensemen, even more than forwards or goaltenders, need time to develop, as they have the most complex position on the ice. It can't be mastered only on raw talent, as being a high-scoring forward can be. Even the greatest D-Men needed a few years to hit their stride.

PLEASE!!!! anything to keep Canadians to go to playoff's this year.

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