The Montreal Canadiens are getting some good news at the right time. Key players are returning or joining the lineup as Tyler Toffoli is back and Eric Staal is coming out of quarantine Sunday. Ben Chiarot, who had surgery to fix a fracture in his right hand on March 15, is back to skating regularly, likely not that far from making his return. All of this just in time for the playoffs, where the Canadiens have likely secured that fourth and final spot in the North Division.
But, as Eric Engels of Sportsnet points out, “… this team very well might gain more reinforcements between now and the NHL’s April 12 trade deadline.”
Engels likes the roster as is and GM Marc Bergevin has stated he does too. That said, most everyone thinks Bergevin is all in and improving this team in the now and has committed so much to this year’s success already, another trade wouldn’t shock anyone. This is especially true if a key piece becomes available that would put the Canadiens over the top.
Engels points out that the Canadiens may closely watch the situation out of Nashville as the Predators continue to battle for a postseason position. Should they make it, Mattias Ekholm likley won’t shake loose and become available prior to April 12th. That said, should the Predators struggle, the Canadiens have names like Artturi Lehkonen, Jake Evans, Joel Armia and Victor Mete to dangle in front of Predators’ GM David Poile.
Engels notes, “I think Bergevin’s in a great position to acquire him without giving away too much of the future.” He suggests Montreal has the three assets the Preds are rumored to be looking for and are likely one of the few teams will to give up those assets if a trade were a real option.
Engels adds the Canadiens have lots of picks and an exceptionally deep prospect pool. If it becomes a bidding war, the Canadiens can compete with just team.
What About the NHL Expansion Draft?
One of the big concerns for teams is how adding a player with term (like Ekholm) would affect their expansion draft plans. Engels points out the Canadiens are in a strong position there too. He writes:
Acquiring Ekholm wouldn’t change Montreal’s expansion draft plans much, either. They’d still have to consider incentivizing Seattle to not take goaltender Jake Allen, but protecting Ekholm and exposing another defenceman wouldn’t put them in a more vulnerable spot.
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