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Why Canadiens Might Not Move Gallagher, But Could Trade Toffoli

If the Montreal Canadiens make big changes this season,, why is Tyler Toffoli more likely to move than Brendan Gallagher?

The Montreal Canadiens are likely to make a couple of trades this season and before the March 21st NHL trade deadline. Who the team trades is still unclear and there could be arguments for keeping or moving a few players. Among the most likely is Ben Chiarot and perhaps the least likely is goaltender Carey Price. Two players right in the middle are forwards Brendan Gallagher and Tyler Toffoli.

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Both have been mentioned in trade talks by media and insiders. Jeff Marek recently suggested that Toffoli likely didn’t sign up for the trouble the Canadiens are going through when he signed as a free agent, while recent comments by Brendan Gallagher have opened up the door to trade speculation.

Gallagher recently noted that his primary objective while playing hockey is to win. While that shouldn’t come as a surprise, that he said he loved the Canadiens and the city, but also said the organization will need to make a decision on a player like him if they elect to go through a rebuild, the words cast some doubt on his future with the team. He noted:

“But for me, I play this game to win. It’s really the only way I can enjoy it. You don’t always have to win every game, but the important thing is I need to feel like we’re trying to win. I need to feel like it’s important. If that’s the decision that they want to make, those are probably conversations that you have to have going forward.”

With that in mind, Eric Engels of Sportsnet suggests this lack of wanting to play for a team that has destined itself to lose doesn’t mean the Canadiens will move him prior to the trade deadline. First, Francis believes there’s still a place for Gallagher on the Canadiens roster and his leadership would be an asset to the team. Second, he’s not sure Gallagher is an easy play to trade, despite some teams likely being interested.

Tyler Toffoli Brendan Gallagher Montreal Canadiens

Even if Gallagher and the Canadiens agree that he’s not a good fit on a rebuilding team, he has a no-movement clause and partial no-trade worked into his deal. That means he’s got some say as to where he goes. Francis also notes, “the idea that you can push him out (without retaining money) and recoup good value is farfetched.” This is all outside of the fact that a team would need to be willing to pay whatever asking price despite the fact Gallagher has struggled this season.

Toffoli Could Be a More Attractive Option

While Gallagher’s deal might be harder to move, one player that shouldn’t be tricky to trade is Tyler Toffoli. He’s a proven playoff performer, his $4.25 million contract for two more seasons is attractive and he doesn’t have any trade protection. That means he can’t dictate where he’s moved to and any team who acquires him can trade him again down the road, should they so choose.

Toffoli is only one season removed from a big year, he’s won a Stanley Cup and he’s still young with lots to offer when healthy.

Neither play is guaranteed to be dealt and there’s been no confirmation from the Canadiens that this team will actually undergo a full rebuild. It’s an option and Gorton will need to make some big decisions, but he could ultimately decide this team is better than its record and add instead of subtracting. If that happens, both Gallagher and Toffoli could stay put with pending UFAs the most likely to go.

Next: NHL Insider Suggests a Team Should Sign Jaromir Jagr



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