Rabid Habs

The Forum: What Would You Do If You Were Marc Bergevin?

GM Marc Bergevin
The NHL trade deadline is now just less than a week away and word has it the Habs GM has been hard at work in the lead-up to March 2nd. With that in mind we asked the panel, what would you be looking to do if you were Marc Bergevin?

Pierre-Alain (@PsaintLo) – I like our team and I’m tempted to say that we shouldn’t rake our farm system for a game changer.

But then again, what are we waiting for?

We’re first in the East with the playoffs pretty much clinched. We have plenty of cap space… apparently. We have a once in a generation goalie who’s playing you-punks-can’t-score-on-me hockey. And yet, it is pretty clear that the current group doesn’t have enough firepower on offense or on defence to win enough games to raise Mr. Stanley’s cup.

Taking all this into account, I think Bergevin needs to make any move that make his team better now. And that means risking future assets.

You could talk me into getting rid of anyone who isn’t going to be useful in 2015 or in 2016. Furthermore, I don’t think we’re going to need a back-up goalie who matters anytime soon. If your best player gets injured, you’re supposed to start losing. So if Tokarski has any value, trade him because he’ll never look good on our team playing 15 games a year. You can get a good player for World Champion Fucale? Trade him. Also, get rid of Eller if you can. This has lasted long enough and we have enough centres. Let him be someone else’s enigma. And I actually think the market for him wouldn’t be so bad.

Winning championships is about balancing the right attitude and then acquiring enough talent. I think we have done a great job with the attitude part… now is time to pile up up on talent.

Oh, and while Galchenyuk is somewhat struggling, I would sign him now! Don’t wait until he goes crazy in a playoff series and then you need to give him PK-level money, please.

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – I’m wondering if Bergevin sees the over-reliance on Price as a harbinger of doom in that without an adjustment to style of play (i.e. win the possession game more often than not), it doesn’t matter who may be acquired to beef up scoring, or shore up the blue line.

I also wonder if he sees the imminent return of Parenteau as a sort of acquisition. He’s been out long enough that we barely remember the guy. His addition to the lineup will cause a domino effect in the same way a new acquisition would. Similarly, if Tinordi finally looks ready for permanent top-6 duty, he’ll have a good bit of depth. This begs the question of whether he wants to make a “big” deal with implications beyond this season, or a rental. Consensus is that the rental of a big name player won’t happen, and I hope that consensus is right.

All this being said, when you’re flirting with top spot in the conference, you probably owe it to the team and fans to go for it and leave no doubt that you put your best foot forward. I personally hope Bergevin looks to make a bold “hockey” trade that brings some more scoring to the table from the right side.

John (@LWOScjcasselman) – The chicken or the egg? I couldn’t tell you which came first. In the case of the Montreal Canadiens, the biggest question is whether it’s the coaching game plan that’s stifling offence, or if it’s a lack of player personnel. How can a team featuring a five-man powerplay unit including PK, Markov, Pacioretty, Galchenyuk and Plekanec so consistently fire blanks? The Penguins are facing a very similar offensive crunch, which is equally perplexing given the breadth of talent. The game has evolved for 100+ years, however, seldom has the transition become as pronounced as this season. Goals are a highly sought after commodity.

All this is to say that I’m not sure a magic bullet solves the Habs offensive woes. So much as I’d love to see a top line forward, I honestly wonder if they would produce in this system? Would Kessel put up 40 goals under Therrien? Personally, I can’t see it, even if he was playing with better players than he’s succeeded playing alongside with in Toronto. The Canadiens’ success is dependent on a fluid five man unit, focused on defensive responsibilities. As a result, I shift focus away from a top line forward or top four defenceman.

So, it’s about finding complimentary players who could adjust, quickly, to a new system. I favour guys who have not reached the height of their careers. Guys like Cody Hodgson or Marcus Foligno in Buffalo, or Zack Kassian and Shawn Matthias in Vancouver. Bergevin has recently dealt with both organizations, so I assume the channels of communication remain open. I see significant upside potential in Patrick Weircioch in Ottawa, although his addition would not benefit the Habs in the short term beyond that of depth. Jason Demers in Dallas or Max Talbot in Colorado are intriguing names who could become significant pieces in completing the puzzle needed to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

All this is to say, I don’t want to risk top end prospects or high end picks for a first line scorer. The thought of a 40 goal scorer is tantalizing, but, again, I’m not sure the value of a goal scorer is maximized in this system, not to mention the significant cost of acquiring said scorer. Factor in what might be a static salary cap, the thin free agent pool and the improvement of internal assets and I’d say it’s most likely that Bergevin makes nothing more than a secondary move, potentially acquiring a name identified above.

Well Bergevin knows what he’d do if he was him, apparently, as he just traded Sekac to the Ducks for Devante Smith-Pelly. Thoughts?

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – I like it – today. The Habs get a legit player that fits Therrien’s model better than Sekac does – today. I don’t know if anyone will argue that Sekac has a higher offensive ceiling, but since he cost the Habs nothing to acquire, there’s little harm in shipping him out for a piece that you think helps now. The Habs believe they have a shot this year if they can remain healthy and Price keeps this up. They need to load up on players who fit the bill. Love him or hate him, Therrien needs guys that HE can trust. He’s the coach, and he ain’t going anywhere, so play to his strengths and give him guys that he will use.

John (@LWOScjcasselman) – I like the move. At the end of the day we signed a free agent player, which cost nothing more than the cap hit, and one of 50 professional contracts. Bergevin has had 45+ games to evaluate Sekac. He was focused on making a hockey deal and he made one. You have to give to get and DSP makes us a more difficult team to play against. It should also be noted that DSP and Beaulieu are very good friends, which certainly shouldn’t hurt chemistry.

Does DSP have the same offensive upside as Sekac? No probably not, but as I’ve been told for weeks regarding Eller, there is much more than points to consider when evaluating a player. So, if it can be said that Eller is having a great year despite making $3.75 million and on pace for less than 25 points, it’s only fair to say that DSP can hold as much or more value than Sekac.

Today, Montreal has become a more difficult team to play against. Last year, the addition of Dale Weise made the team better, despite overwhelming opposition. Bergevin deserves to be given the benefit. In my opinion, I like the potential this deal holds.

Zach (@ZachVanasse) – I’m with John on this one. By this point I think we can give Marc Bergevin the benefit of the doubt. Is he always going to win every trade? Probably not, but he seems to be batting 1.000 at this point, so who am I to second guess?

A guy who writes on the Internet, that’s who!

I liked what I saw from Sekac for the most part. I thought his puck handling abilities were off the charts and we were told his athleticism was incomparable. Sure he was undrafted, but not un-sought after at this point in his career. So part of me is a little concerned a player with a ton more upside just got moved out for a (mildly cheaper) career third liner. But at least he’s a Good Canadian Boy From Scarborough! I’m sure Don Cherry approves, right? Oh wait a second…