Rabid Habs

Trading Tomas Plekanec?

Habs' Tomas Plekanec

Is it time to trade Tomas Plekanec?  We hear his name often in trade discussions on the Web. Is he the odd man out to open up a roster spot for Alex Galchenyuk at center and to get a top 6 winger?

Yes, it’s time…if you only look at what happens in the offensive zone during a game. If you choose to care as much about what’s going on in the neutral and defensive zone, it’s really not a good idea at this point. Unless we’re talking about trading the Czech for another center with a better 2-way game.

Here’s the % of ice time of each of our top 3 center from last year:

Tomas Plekanec
Powerplay = 34.2%
Penalty Kill = 49.0%
5 on 5 = 29.7%

David Desharnais
Powerplay = 45.9%
Penalty Kill = 2.2%
5 on 5 = 29.4%

Lars Eller
Powerplay = 19.3%
Penalty Kill = 23.5%
5 on 5 = 27.4%

If we trade Plekanec, who will take 49% of the ice time from the penalty kill? Someone will have to take those minutes. Desharnais isn’t capable of taking this ice time, Eller might take some but someone else will have to take his 23.5% and that’s not Galchenyuk.

Manny Malhotra will help, but he took less minutes than Brian Gionta and Travis Moen last year. After trading Gorges and letting Gionta walk, Plekanec becomes so much more important for the Canadiens’ special unit, which was one of the best in the league. It might be a good idea to remember that our defensive center led the NHL (by far) for faceoffs taken on the PK.

Of course, playing on the penalty kill won’t help Plekanec’s point production, but this part of the game is crucial to win hockey games even if you won’t see it on the scoresheet.

Plekanec isn’t good in the Playoffs!

This is one thing I keep hearing about the Czech. I have to admit that his defensive game took a beating in the last playoff run, but having the job to stop the top offensive players in the league while playing with Prust, Gallagher and Bournival doesn’t make things easier for him.

Having said that, Tomas still managed to put up 13 points in 22 playoff games since Therrien’s arrival with the Montreal Canadiens. Is it that bad considering his linemates and work conditions?

If we trade him because of his playoff defensive game, then don’t expect a 20 year old kid to take his place and make things better. And Plek’s offensive game was better than the 9 points in 22 games from David Desharnais who had much more quality of ice time and linemates. So it shouldn’t be such a problem either.

– Galchenyuk will need a place at center!

Eventually, the Habs will need to make a move. Every Habs fans are expecting to see Galchenyuk in the middle sooner rather than later. Will he take Plekanec’s role with the team? Will he face the best players every night and shut them down? If you don’t see Galchenyuk take this job, then why should we trade #14?

Of course, the 2012 #3 pick overall would be an upgrade in the offensive zone but would be a major downgrade in the other end of the ice. That’s not how you improve a team. I’ve said it here in the past, Galchenyuk will need a lot of powerplay time, a lot of offensive zone starts, good offensive wingers and limited defensive responsibilities to start playing at center and this is not Plekanec’s ice time.

Here’s the % of offensive zone starts from last year’s season and playoff and you’ll see that Galchenyuk can’t be used the same way Plekanec is:

Tomas Plekanec:
Season = 38.0% / Playoffs = 31.6%

David Desharnais:
Season = 52.9% / Playoffs = 61.7%

Lars Eller:
Season = 43.7% / Playoffs = 37.9%

The fact that Plekanec is taking most of the defensive duties on this team allows other centers to get more freedom in the offensive zone and less defensive responsibilities.

A quick question here: If Galchenyuk takes his place at center, would it be a good idea to have a center able to take most of the defensive coverage to free him from those charges?

I’m not saying that Plekanec absolutely needs to stay with this team but as long as one of our top 6 center (whoever that is) won’t be able to take his fair share of defensive duties, Plekanec must be kept to protect that center and back him up.

There will be a time for talks about trading Tomas Plekanec, but it’s simply not this year.

Go Habs Go!