As the NHL trading deadline fast approaches, now less than a month away, many teams and GMs have begun positioning themselves as either buyers or sellers. There’s no doubt, with the Canadiens currently sitting first in the Atlantic Division, that Marc Bergevin and his staff will be looking to add come March 1 at 3:00 p.m. EST. Throughout the season, there have been rumblings of the Habs interested in either a top 6 forward to add scoring depth and or a top 4 left handed defenseman to pair with Shea Weber. As I’ve mentioned before, the time to go all in is now. Carey Price is fast approaching 30 and his cap friendly salary will expire in 2 years. Same goes with Max Pacioretty’s and Alex Galchenyuk’s cap friendly contracts. Shea Weber is also 31 years old and Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov both aren’t getting any younger. It’s even safe to say but the day Andrei Markov retires, I don’t think there is anyone in the system that can replace him right away. Yes, prospect Phenom, Mikhail Sergachev could, but it will take him a couple of years (if ever) to reach the same level of Markov. So who should and could Bergevin and the Canadiens approach? Here are 5 players I believe the Habs should target that could make the Canadiens into a legitimate contender.
|Player (Salary):||My Take:|
|Gabriel Landeskog ($5.57m)||
The Avalanche are definitely sellers this year, sitting dead last in the league. I doubt that Joe Sakic is actively shopping his Captain around but if the price is there he might entertain it. Landeskog is the prototypical Bergevin-Therrien type of player. He has a good two way game, with speed and size. The price will be astronomical (you’re looking at Sergachev, Gallagher, multiple first rounds) but to think of adding a Landeskog to a top 6 that already includes Pacioretty, Radulov and Galchenyuk is mouth-watering.
|Matt Duchene ($6.0m)||
As TSN’s Darren Dreger has reported, the Avalanche are shopping Matt Duchene and the Canadiens are in the sweepstakes. The price will be costly but a player like Duchene doesn’t become available very often (the last comes to mind is Tyler Seguin in 2013). If Bergevin and company are serious about going for the Cup this year, you would expect them to approach the Avalanche really hard about their two young guns. Having Galchenyuk and Duchene down the middle for years to come could completely change the dynamic of the Canadiens.
|Ryan Nugent-Hopkins ($6.0m)||
There have been talks early in the year about the availability of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers’ former first overall pick in 2014. RNH has dropped down the depth chart behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it could be time for the Oilers to ship RNH for much needed defensive help. The cost will most likely involve Nathan Beaulieu and a first, but for a center that is still young and under contract, the price could be worth it.
|Martin Hanzal ($3.1m)||
There were rumblings, as Elliotte Friedman had mentioned that the Habs and Coyotes were talking about a deal around pending UFA Martin Hanzal. The original asking price was Michael McCarron, a first round and a conditional draft pick. Hanzal will definitely bring size down the middle for the Habs, which they have been lacking for years. But he is often injury prone even for his 6’6 frame. The initial price might be too high, but I think a McCarron and draft pick could get it done.
|Kevin Shattenkirk ($4.25m)||
There are not many defensemen available this year so the price for Shattenkirk could cost an arm and a leg. That said, upcoming UFA Kevin Shattenkirk is still a legit top 4 defenseman in the league, and even though he is a RHD, the possibility to add a Shattenkirk could solidify the Habs’ defensive need. The need to acquire another defenseman will most likely evolve around the development of Nathan Beaulieu. If Beaulieu can step up his play and play at a more consistent basis, Bergevin might not feel the need to look for a defenseman and concentrate on acquiring a forward.
Who do you think the Habs should target?