As the dust settles on the final trades, the Canadiens were once again relatively inactive. The trade made for Eric Staal was Bergevin’s big move of the season as he spent most of the last 48 hours securing depth. This may be selling Gustafsson and Merrill short, because based on recent evidence, Bergevin’s additions since the offseason have been the team’s best players this season.
Overall the Habs brought in Eric Staal, Jon Merrill and Erik Gustafsson for Hayden Verbeek, a 3rd, two 5ths and a 7th. Verbeek was just starting to find his game with Laval and I like this sneaky pick up for Detroit. Stevey Y strikes again. Victor Mete was an unfortunate trade deadline casualty as he was picked up by the Senators off the waiver wire. You would’ve hoped to have gotten something for Mete, however when you consider the way the market played out, it’s not a huge surprise.
While some fans may not be pleased with the rather quiet Trade Deadline for the Habs, it was in the team’s best interest. Big picture the Habs are not in a win now situation. We may have a difference of opinion on this which I understand completely. Price and Weber are not getting younger, but it’s time to acknowledge this team is much bigger than these two. Hard to do considering their contracts, but they are the vets that will guide the young core that is coming in the next couple of years. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi will spearhead this youthful charge, but they are not ready to take the reigns just yet. Staal and Danault offer valuable veteran presence, especially once the playoffs start.
Bergevin has also put the team in a position to protect themselves against the Seattle Expansion draft. The prevailing theory is that the Habs will lose one of Chiarot or Edmundson. With the addition of Gustafsson and Merrill, the team has potential replacement players (likely at a discount no less), no matter who they lose to the Kraken. Not to mention a sweet, sweet mullet and a tough guy.
The Canadiens are well positioned to define their team and future as they make a push to step into their playoff window. The team has five of their top six (or nine if you want to be a pessimist) under contract as well as their entire defense core and goalies. This does not include KK who will be a RFA and he will obviously resign. Nor does it include Caufield who will likely get a call up sooner rather than later given the Habs cap space. So let’s call this seven of the team’s top nine plus Jake Evans and Paul Byron under contract.
Don’t forget Ryan Poehling and Lukas Vedejmo who will both need new contracts and should make a push to join the Habs as bottom six players next season.
The team has a number of interesting UFAs that will likely have discussions with Bergy at the very least in the offseason. Danault is easily at the top of that list but guys like Tatar, Staal, Perry and Armia could very well be playing to secure a future spot on this team as the Habs start to trend in the right direction.
It’s been a frustrating journey to get here for sure, but at least the Canadiens are finally at a point where they can start piecing a together a team that can and eventually should compete. Bergevin will be speaking live at 6pm EST to discuss the trades that did and didn’t take place today, so if you would like to hear more from the man himself be sure to check that out.
As always don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hot Sauce Family and check us out on Youtube! This week on Healthy Skratch the guys discuss how dominant the Avalanche have been, Jack Campbell’s record breaking streak and a big 24 hours for Cole Caufield.