Montreal headed into trade deadline day with approximately $8M in cap space, which was a healthy amount considering they're currently 3rd in the Eastern Conference.
General Manager Marc Bergevin got off to an early start by acquiring defenceman Mike Weaver from the Florida Panthers yesterday for a 5th round pick.
Although this wasn't the big name player many fans were hoping for, Weaver brings a solid resume to the Habs and should help insulate their top 6. Alexei Emelin has been struggling, and Weaver should provide a more stable partner for Andrei Markov if he happens to find his way into the top two pairings. If not, Weaver will slot into the third pairing and give Therrien a more reliable option than Douglas Murray, or more experience if he happens to choose to scratch the hulking Jarred Tinordi.
Weaver came with a $1.1M price tag on an expiring contract, and cost very little.
Trade Score: B+
The next move made by the Montreal Canadiens came via a depth move for goalie Devan Dubnyk. He was essentially acquired for free (future considerations), and 75% of his contract is retained by the Oilers & Predators. He'll provide depth in the goaltender position, and a veteran presence for the Hamilton Bulldogs.
It wasn't a ground breaking trade by any means, but it cost the Canadiens nothing and took up very little cap space.
Trade Score: B
The final trade of the day came as a bit of a shock, as Bergevin, Dudley and co. pulled the trigger on one of the biggest deals in Habs trade deadline history. Montreal sent a second round pick along with Swedish prospect Sebastian Collberg to the New York Islanders in exchange for Thomas Vanek and a fifth round pick. Vanek had been rumoured to have a 1st round + top prospect + NHL player price tag, so this trade seems like quite a coup.
Sebastian Collberg is a good prospect, there's no denying it. Any time he played among his own age group, like in at the World Juniors, he excelled. However Montreal possesses many players of that mold, and could afford to mortgage a little bit of the future for an opportunity to acquire a bonafide goal scoring winger.
Vanek came with a $7.150M cap hit on an expiring contract. The Sabres had previously swallowed a portion of Vanek's contract.
Trade Score: A
With Vanek coming into the fold, Montreal's forward group suddenly looks a lot better.
A quick projected lineup:
Vanek - Plekanec - Gionta
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Gallagher
Galchenyuk - Eller - Briere
Prust - Bournival - Bourque.
Gorges - Subban
Markov - Weaver
Tinordi - Emelin/Murray
Essentially Bergevin's team correctly identified two needs and addressed them properly. The fear going into the deadline would be that a struggling player with a lot of potential like Lars Eller would be moved, or one of the high end defensive prospects like Tinordi or Beaulieu would be sold, however the Canadiens kept their roster intact, and added some much needed elements.
Vanek's addition should stabilize Montreal's current possession woes, and allow Michel Therrien to use four very well balanced lines.
It remains to be seen whether or not Vanek and Weaver will have the impact that most expect, but it's safe to say that Habs management did a very good job on this crazy day. The club comes out of the trade deadline as a serious threat in the very weak Eastern Conference.
We'll be taking an in-depth analytic based look at the Vanek acquisition tomorrow. In the mean time you can read about the Weaver acquisition here.