Should the team continue to struggle, who gets moved by the Montreal Canadiens will be an interesting topic of discussion as the season rolls along. The Habs are not having a good year and certainly aren’t living up to expectations after falling just short in the Stanley Cup Final last year to the Tampa Bay Lightning. As the team goes through potential management changes over the summer and has to reevaluate what went wrong, it’s logical to assume some of the current faces of the roster won’t be back.
Which players are the most likely to be traded? That’s a more difficult question to answer based on the fact we know little about what GM Marc Bergevin is planning to do in the final year of his contract with the team. Who could be traded is a different story.
A defenseman on an expiring contract with a team-friendly salary and a ton of cache around the NHL is an attractive option to move at the trade deadline for any team that isn’t in the playoff hunt. That could be what happens with Ben Chiarot who will expect a bump in his $3 million salary and it may or may not come from the Canadiens.
There are plenty of teams that could use a big-minute, left-shot defenseman down the stretch and some insiders have Chiarot as a player who could easily fetch a second-round pick. If the bidding begins, Chiarot could fetch a first-rounder and that would be hard for the Canadiens to pass up if there’s any prospect that Chiarot may explore his free agency options.
A lot less likely an option, but a name that is out there right now is Brendan Gallagher. TVA Sports’ Anthony Martineau and Nicolas Cloutier suggested the Canadiens might be willing to sell before the deadline and among the pieces they should consider is Gallagher who hasn’t played up to his expected levels this season and has been rumored as unhelpful in a leadership role during this current Canadiens’ slump.
Martineau does acknowledge that the 29-year-old’s $6.25 million cap hit is problematic and the Habs would need to retain salary to make a deal work. But, if they were willing to do so, he also believes Gallagher’s reputation as a hard worker would make him enticing for some clubs.
Toffoli’s deal and propensity to score consistently would make him an option at any time for the Canadiens if there was a need to pick up another piece or asset that would help in another area. Toffoli signed a very friendly deal ($4,250,000) with the Habs during the 2020 offseason and surprised a number of insiders by taking what was considered a discount.
Whether that was because it was all he believed he was worth or just badly wanted to play for the Canadiens, it’s logical to wonder now what he’s thinking. He said recently in an interview, “We’re one of the worst teams in the league right now.” It’s hard to imagine he envisioned what’s going on with the Canadiens when he signed.
His tradeable contract, a number of teams being open to acquiring him, and his ability to fetch a decent return make him the type of player that could be traded out of the blue.
The Canadiens will be a team to watch this season, for many reasons. Can they bounce back and make the playoffs? If they don’t what moves will they make? Is Bergevin going to be with the team long-term or move on? If he leaves, when does a new GM enter the picture, and which players were Bergevin guys that a new boss deems expendable?
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