I'll get right down to business... What should you expect of Marc Bergevin and co. on March 5th? Not a whole lot. Don't get your hopes up from some Bob McKenzie rumour he probably heard from the stick boy at the Bell Centre. The Habs are a very conservative team at the trade deadline, and Marc Bergevin has openly stated that he won't wait for the last minute to make moves, he'll make them if and when they feel right. Here's a look back at the last five years of trade deadlines for the Habs.
Let's roll back to last year. The Penguins gave up peanuts for Brenden Morrow, and the now-our-problem Douglas Murray in separate trades. The Canucks got Derek Roy for Kevin Connauton and a 2nd rounder. The Rangers added Ryan Clowe for three picks, (a guy who Bob McKenzie said we'd be targeting.) And, the Lighting exchanged the promising young Cory Conacher for the behemoth goaltender Ben Bishop. The Bruins got themselves a Jaromir Jagr, but were hilariously teased with Jarome Iginla, only for him to end up in Pittsburgh. The Habs? How about a 2013 5th rounder for Davis Drewiske. Many moves of consequence occurred at last year's deadline, but none of real consequence to the Canadiens.
Fall back one more year to the 2011-2012 season. Let's get that over with so we can all vomit. In my opinion, this was a really weak year league wide in terms of the amount of trades. The two biggest trades I remember involved Buffalo, so you can imagine how sucky it was. There was of course, the Cody Hodgson for Zach Kassian trade that had most of us wondering what the heck is wrong in Vancouver. And the Sabres also exiled Paul Gaustad for draft picks. The Canadiens story on this day however, is a little sexier. Sending Andrei Kostitsyn to join his brother in Nashville netted the Habs a second round pick in the 2013 draft. That pick went on to become Jacob De La Rose. I know he's yet to play in the NHL, but I don't think I'd be alone in saying that we came of for the better on that one.
Keep rewinding, now on to the 2010-2011 season. Another mediocre year if lots of movement is what excites you. What stands out as the biggest move to me is Dustin Penner being moved from Edmonton to LA for Colton Teubert and a couple of draft picks. The Habs? Well they acquired goaltender Drew MacIntyre from Atlanta for defenceman Brett Festerling. I had no clue who either of these guys are, so I did some research. Festerling now plays in the DEL, the German professional league, and MacIntyre is now the backup of the AHL Toronto Marlies. What my research uncovered is that this trade had essentially 0 impact on either team involved. Once again, a playoff bound Habs team plays it safe and stays out of the spotlight on deadline day.
Keep it moving, back to the year of the Halak, 2009-2010. Scott Gomez had 47 assists that season... Try and concentrate on the rest of this paragraph now... This was a more active year around the league, lots of trades happened but no really big names were involved. The Habs limited their involvement to Matt D'Agostini to St. Louis in exchange for Aaron Palushaj. This edition of the Habs was not yet in the playoff picture officially, yet still played it safe. Of course, a miracle run led by Jaroslav Halak pushed the team to the Eastern Conference final, but faltered against the Philadelphia Flyers.
One more time, moving backwards to 2008-2009. It's hard for any of us Habs fans to talk about that season. Ale Kovalev was the leading scorer, and it was Saku Koivu's last season in Montreal. Tons of moves were made at the deadline around the league, this was even the year where Dr. Recchi earned his PhD after being traded to the Bruins by Tampa Bay. Playing it safe as always, the Habs did not move a single asset, sticking with the team that got them to eighth place in the east. The result? A sweep at the hands of the first place Bruins in the very first round of the playoffs.
I never claim privacy when I discuss politics. I am educated in the field of political science, and I am a card carrying Conservative. I do not extend that ideology to hockey. When you look at the last 5 years, Montreal has been in the playoffs more often than not, but has been simply incapable of getting over the hump and making a real run, outside of some brilliant goaltending in 2010. We do have a brilliant goaltender now, but it would be absurd to expect him to win a cup on his own. I firmly believe that making a serious move at the deadline could be what this team needs. That, and a new coach but let's stick to the deadline so this doesn't become a rant.
The culture of the Montreal Canadiens is one that does not conform to the idea of making moves so late in a season in pursuit f the cup. Marc Bergevin will probably be no exception to that. When you look at these last five trade deadlines, you can see that the only time a semi-serious move has been made it's when the team is clearly not playoff bound. And, even when they are out of the picture, they stay relatively conservative. Now maybe you could pin that to the GM, but these last 5 trade deadlines I just went over were managed by three different General Managers. I don't think it's the GM's that are conservative, it seems clear to me that it is club culture.
Given that the Habs currently have a winning record, and are in the playoff picture, we should expect very little if any movement at the deadline. If, however, Bergevin gets an offer he can't refuse for a real difference maker, I would like to think he might make the move. There are a lot of big names reportedly available this year, and the only question is whether Bergevin will break the cycle and make a big move. There will naturally be pressure to go after the big name French Canadian Martin St. Louis, and I could get behind that, but it's all up to the Canadiens war room.
This article, much akin to TSN's coverage of the deadline, is beginning to feel a bit tedious and overworked. I'll end it by trying to concisely answer the question of what to expect, and what not to. Expect lots of rumours, particularly about Marty St. Louis. Expect to be teased with the idea of a player you want coming to Montreal, only to find out he's going to New York, or worse, Boston. Expect Boston to add someone who's good and to be upset about it. The only thing you shouldn't expect, is a big move from the Canadiens. Trust me. If they do make one, the fact that you didn't expect it should make you very, very happy.