The easy prediction for fans and insiders watching what happens with the Montreal Canadiens this season is to predict that a pending UFA like Ben Chiarot will be moved. There will be plenty of interest in the player around the league and it’s unlikely he’s back with the organization that is bound to make significant offseason changes. But, it’s the players with the longer-term contracts whose futures are more difficult to predict.
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Jonathan Bernier of TVA Sports looked more closely at a few names that could be tossed around in trade talks but have deals that last another three-or-more-seasons with the hockey club. Bernier suggests, if the Canadiens undergo a rebuild, these are the players to closely watch. Specifically, he mentioned Carey Price, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Brendan Gallagher, Nick Suzuki, Josh Anderson, Christian Dvorak, Joel Armia, Jake Evans, and David Savard.
He broke them down into two categories: those who should stay and those who should go. In his list of players who should be shopped or traded, he included Price, Weber, Petry, Gallagher, Armia and Savard.
Carey Price’s Future
There has already been talk about what happens to the veteran goaltender if the Canadiens rebuild. Will he want to be a part of it? Will he waive his no-move to get closer to family or improve his chances to win? Bernier writes Price is not expected to join the lineup before the new year and that means a trade won’t be imminent.
He explains, “The organization wants to take its time with Carey to give him the chance to get back on the ice at the appropriate time.” Could this also be a good time to talk with the netminder and see where his head is at in regards to his long-term playing future? It can’t hurt the Canadiens, specifically Jeff Gorton and whomever he hires after Christmas as the new general manager to have a conversation with Price and ask how he’s feeling about all of this?
Shea Weber Done, Might as Well Do Something Practical
As for Shea Weber, all signs are pointing to the fact he’ll never play in the NHL again. There’s no plan to announce an official retirement because doing so would forfeit the salary he’s got coming to him, but contracts for players who finish out their careers on LTIR have been traded before.
The purpose is to give a team close to the salary cap ceiling the benefit of going over LTIR by a percentage of that player’s cap hit and that could be useful for some teams close to the ceiling, wanting to add but can’t because there’s no room on the cap to do so.
Petry Likely Won’t See This Through
Bernier writes that Jeff Petry is likely to be a player that will want out if the Canadiens settle into the fact they won’t be competitive for a while. He’s got the combination of only a few years left on his deal but age being a factor when it comes to how much time he’s got left in the NHL. His game has taken a big downturn this season and he’s noted, “When you’re further in your career, like I am, time becomes an issue.”
Bernier believes that Petry might be the one who goes the organization and offers to be a trade piece for the team. Unfortunately, the trade market with his current salary and lack of production might cause troubles in getting a good return.
The Rest: Gallagher, Savard and Armia
Marc Bergevin was very close to forward Brendan Gallagher. The new GM won’t have that emotional tie to the player and as such, will explore all options when it comes to his future with the team. As for Joel Armia, he could be a useful piece to move as teams will always be looking to add depth and size at a reasonable price. Savard hasn’t turned out to be the right fit for the reasons the Canadiens acquired him. Perhaps it’s time they try to find a better spot for him.
Bernier notes that players like Suzuki, Anderson and others should be part of the Canadiens rebuilding plans. He figures these players are either offering what was expected of them when signed or are the bright spots on the roster the Canadiens should try and build around.
Next: Mark Giordano Has “Unfinished Business” With the Calgary Flames
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