Rabid Habs

Hot Stove: Random Musings Regarding the Habs

Habs' Jiri Sekac

The move to acquire Jiri Sekac was heralded, rightfully so, as a huge addition to the Canadiens organization. Reports indicate that Sekac was essentially the equivalent of landing a late first rounder for nothing more than the cost of the contract. Earlier in the year, Bergevin and the leadership team signed Daniel Carr and Nick Sorkin from Union and UNH respectfully. Carr is tied for the Hamilton Bulldogs team lead with 15 goals. His 25 points are top three on the team and his +13 is second only to defenceman Davis Drewiski. Sorkin is also enjoying a very productive rookie campaign with 15 points in 42 games. He is a big body who goes to the net and creates secondary scoring chances with his reach. I thought Sorkin stood out in preseason and believe both players have the potential to play in the NHL.

These signings follow the signing of NCAA free agent Mike Condon in 2013. Condon had a very solid rookie campaign in Wheeling, posting a very strong save percentage of .931 and a goals against average of 2.18. The Princeton graduate has followed up this performance with another strong campaign, leading the Bulldogs with a 2.16 goals against average and .929 save percentage.

All this is to say that Bergevin has essentially acquired four key components, without expending a single draft pick. Estimating the draft pick equivalency for each player is entirely subjective, but it might not be a stretch to suggest that Sekac was the equivalent of a late 1st rounder, while Carr and Sorkin could be 3rd rounders and Condon a 5th. Again, these are estimates only, but they hold merit as we enter into a potential trade discussion involving picks and prospects. The fact that Bergevin has added four key pieces to the organization will provide greater flexibility in making any deadline move(s) as the talent depth has grown.

As the deadline inches closer, I wonder if the Columbus Blue Jackets might look to shed salary. James Wisniewski is a proven performer, who could help to upgrade the top 4. He is currently under contract, which satisfies Bergevin’s request to make a hockey deal for a player with term. The Wiz has 26 points in 49 games this season, on the heels of his 51 points in 75 games last year. He’s a right handed shot and can help QB the second PP unit, in addition to playing the PK. At 30 years of age, Wisniewski could add that new dimension to the defence and partner with Beaulieu in adding additional grit to the lineup.

Up front, I would like to see the Habs pursue Shawn Matthias from the Vancouver Canucks. At 26 years of age, Matthias appears fully recovered from previous injuries and is enjoying a breakout campaign with the Canucks. At 6’4″, Matthias can play a physical brand of hockey, but also has the skill to score 13 goals in 54 games this season. He’s not Wayne Simmonds, but he would cost significantly less to acquire. Much like Dale Weise, Matthias could potentially be redeployed in Montreal, used as a net presence on the PP, or on the right wing in a puck retrieval-net drive inside the top 6. Again, there are many better options available, however, when you consider the cost to acquire these superior players, one wonders if Matthias might not be the best choice.

From the comfort of my couch, in addition to the few games I’ve seen the Canadiens play live this season, it’s apparent that secondary scoring needs to emerge if the team hopes to best Tampa Bay in a 7 game playoff series. The addition of Wisniewski and Matthias could help both improve the offence, while also adding grit, which not the premium it once was, is still a sought after commodity in the playoffs, especially when officials decide to pocket their whistle in the third period. Failure to address the secondary scoring will allow our opposition to target Pacioretty exclusively. By shutting down Max, you have essentially snuffed 25% of the goals scored by our forwards. We might rely on the hopes that Eller will once again elevate his game in the postseason, however that could be balanced by a postseason drought for one of Plekanec or Desharnais.

Needless to say, the next two weeks will be extremely exciting. I just need to make sure that the battery on my iPad remains charged, as the potential for trades is at a boiling point.

I welcome your feedback. Please connect with me via Twitter @LWOScjcasselman.