Rabid Habs

Habs Roster Freeze Recap

The NHL roster freeze, which started at 3:00 PM EST, came about like any other NHL trade deadline. Allegedly, there was a lot of “chatter,” but it was ultimately underwhelming. We were also told that trades could “trickle in” after the 3:00 PM deadline, and a minor trade did, but it was a relatively quiet day.

Beaulieu in Buffalo

The Canadiens made one of the only moves of the day, sending defenseman Nathan Beaulieu to the Buffalo Sabres for a 3rd round draft pick in 2017. The draft pick will be the 68th overall selection in the draft, giving the Canadiens six total draft picks: 25th, 56th, 58th, 68th, 87th, 149th.

The return for the former 17th overall selection appeared underwhelming at first. Throughout the day, there were discussions about packaging Beaulieu with another asset to acquire a roster player. Despite the narratives surrounding Beaulieu’s season, he set a career high in points.  Ultimately, a trade like this was not possible as Marc Bergevin wasn’t dealing from a position of strength. As the deadline approached, the options regarding Beaulieu were as follows:

  1. Protect him and lose Jordie Benn or Brandon Davidson for nothing
  2. Protect Benn and lose Beaulieu or Davidson for nothing
  3. Get what you can for Beaulieu, protect Benn, and hope Vegas doesn’t take Davidson

I certainly don’t like the return, but if that’s all Bergevin could do, it beats Vegas taking him for nothing. If Bergevin protects Beaulieu and lets Benn get claimed by Vegas, Beaulieu still needs a contract for next season. That contract takes money away from Alex Radulov, Alex Galchenyuk, and eventually Carey Price.

The writing was on the wall for Beaulieu. His time in Montreal was up, but the return was frankly embarrassing. Bergevin has gotten in the habit of trading defenseman selected in the first round and trading them for pennies on the dollar after years of wasted development. Regardless of the situation Bergevin was in, optically, this wasn’t a great deal for him.

Galchenyuk Watch

This one is sticky.

Let’s start at the beginning of all the chaos. All of the recent noise around Alex Galchenyuk can be traced back to one tweet:

This tweet, only half-wrong (or maybe it’s half-right? Am I a pessimist? Anyway…) sent Habs’ fans into a bit of frenzy. The next day, of course, Jonathan Drouin was acquired by the Canadiens in exchange for Mikhail Sergachev. There are some draft picks in there too, but ultimately, this is what the trade boils down to.

The Canadiens got what they wanted in Jonathan Drouin, and still had a major trade chip left in Alex Galchenyuk.

That is, if the Canadiens want to trade him.

There seems to be this idea that the Canadiens need to trade Galchenyuk. Why? There’s the idea that he can fetch a quality player; the word on the street is that Montreal is in the market for an upgrade on defense. Montreal’s obvious need is at centre, but there doesn’t seem to be anything available on that front.

If Montreal were to trade him, it would have to be a great deal. As per David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, Montreal is still working to re-sign him.

So, for now, the Galchenyuk trade watch is quiet. That can always change, but it seems like Montreal might find a contract that works for both sides, potentially a one-year deal, and see how he does.

The Canadiens did not file for arbitration, so that particular responsibility now rests with Galchenyuk and his camp. It is an entirely fluid situation.

Radulov’s Contract Negotiations

It seems like Pierre LeBrun scared the pants off of every Habs fan this week when he tweeted this:

The knee-jerk reaction is to assume the negotiations are going poorly and that Radulov will bolt for more money, especially with Vegas’ exclusive RFA and UFA negotiating period.

After reading everything there is to read about Radulov’s contract hysteria, I am left wondering where all the panic is coming from. This is how high-profile negotiations go. Radulov can absolutely leave Montreal and get more money elsewhere, but there’s no evidence to suggest that’s happening.

Radulov’s “current contract demands” will change; it’s how negotiations work. Radulov is supposed to come in with a high number and term. Then Bergevin counters with his number and term, which is going to be lower that Radulov anticipates. If the negotiation is healthy and goes well, they’ll agree on a term somewhere in the middle.

Of course, maybe the negotiations aren’t going well. We don’t know that, and at the end of the day, it does no good to assume that Radulov is already a Golden Knight.

So just sit back and wait for this all to blow over.

So What’s Next?

At 5:00 PM EST on Saturday, every NHL team submitted it’s protection lists to the league. While the league will announce the protections on Sunday at 10:00 AM EST, some have already started to leak. Taken with a grain of salt, here’s what Renaud Lavoie of TVA has on the Canadiens expansion plans:

Tomas Plekanec and Alexei Emelin carry a combined $10.1 million cap hit, and it seems possible, if not entirely likely, that the Canadiens would like to remove both of those cap hits. It’s possible that the Canadiens already have a deal with Vegas for one of these players to be selected by the expansion franchise, but we won’t find out about that until Vegas announces its selections on June 21.

And there still may be deals to be had with Vegas, as the roster freeze only applies in situations where Vegas is not a trade partner. Teams can still make deals with Vegas, and I can see Vegas acting as a middle-man for trades.

But this is all speculation. And get ready for another two weeks of speculation, as the shakeup caused by the expansion draft may cause even more seismic moves at the Entry Draft and beyond.

Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan and follow @Rabidhabs for more updates!