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The Bright Side: Bon voyage, Diaz

For Raphael Diaz, the trade from the Montreal Canadiens to the Vancouver Canucks represents a fresh start.

No. 61 looks to revive his NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks.
No. 61 looks to revive his NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

At the end of the day, the best way to digest this trade is to look at it from Diaz's point of view. The undrafted, 28-year-old will have an opportunity to revive his NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks.

His passes will find the tape of Henrik and Daniel Sedin's sticks, players with talent the Habs would have a hard time matching straight up.

Like the Canadiens, the Canucks are in a dogfight for a playoff spot, currently clinging onto a Wild Card position. Vancouver can use all the help they can get. Diaz has been presented with a fresh start to try and help them fend off the Phoenix Coyotes and resurgent Winnipeg Jets.

Diaz's value to the Canadiens was at its highest when Andrei Markov recovered from reconstructive knee surgery and when P.K. Subban missed training camp and the start of the abbreviated lockout season due to a contract negotiation stalemate.

Subban and Markov have remained healthy this season and provided the kind of offense from the blueline that relegated Diaz to the team's bottom pairing and ultimately the press box.

Nathan Beaulieu's emergence as an NHL defenseman sealed Diaz' fate with the Montreal Canadiens.

Diaz never had a future in Montreal

It was unlikely that the Canadiens were going to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Raphael Diaz. When I heard that there were going to be contract talks earlier this season, I was surprised to be honest.

Subban, coming off a Norris Trophy season, is seeking a lucrative contract extension in the $8 million dollar range over the next seven or eight years. Markov's play and value to the Canadiens this season warrants consideration for a new contract, but it won't come cheap either.

There simply isn't enough money to go around, which leads me to believe that the contract talks were nothing more than a formality and a sidebar to the discussion on Subban's extension.

The information that Bergevin picked up with Diaz's agent Don Meehan was likely revisited during his trade talks with other teams. They'd want to know how much money he was seeking prior to acquiring him.

Making Room

With Davis Drewiske pending activation from IR, Habs GM Marc Bergevin needed to move a defenseman or face the prospect of carrying nine into the Olympic break.

Drewiske is a safe, cheaper option as the club's designated pressbox defenseman. Diaz is simply too talented to scratch night after night, which is why many fans are disgruntled with Bergevin for receiving such a low return for the Swiss defender.

Both Drewiske ($637,500) and Beaulieu ($925,500) are under contract next season. With an estimate that Diaz is seeking a new contract in the $2.5-$3.5 million dollar range, they save money moving him in the long-term.

The Canadiens also have two capable rookies playing with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs in Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn. While Beaulieu is the natural replacement for Diaz, Tinordi and Pateryn should replace pending UFAs Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray by next season.

What about Weise?

For all the NHL-ready blueline talent in the Habs system, the same can't be said at the forward position in terms of third and fourth line players.

Louis Leblanc, Patrick Holland, Gabriel Dumont, Joonas Nattinen, Martin St. Pierre, and Christian Thomas have had a sniff at some NHL ice time, but neither of them have impressed Therrien and Bergevin enough to stick.

At the very least, Dale Weise can supply quality bottom six minutes allowing the kids in Hamilton to continue their development in bigger roles. Weise should prove to be a better option over Parros most nights.

Weise, 25, is currently making $750,000 and is a restricted free agent heading into next season. Whether or not the Habs re-sign him depends heavily on his play between now and the end of the season. So expect his best as he aims to impress. Still, as an RFA he hold little power heading into contract negotiations and it's unlikely he'll yield much more than his current salary.

On a final note, you have to feel for Louis Leblanc. Like Weise, Louis is considered a grinding RW by the Habs brass. Barring a slew of injuries, Leblanc's next NHL game could very well be in a different jersey.