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Marc Bergevin should not be the person to lead a Montreal Canadiens rebuild

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This team needs a shakeup, but it needs to start at the management level

Shanna Martin / Eyes on the Prize

There’s no panic move that will fix this Montreal Canadiens team. There’s no quick answer. Not in the locker room, not on the ice, and especially not in management.

Rumours have circulated that Marc Bergevin is actively shopping captain Max Pacioretty. And it makes sense. Shopping someone while his value is at its lowest is right in Marc Bergevin’s wheelhouse.

He did it with Nathan Beaulieu (fresh off being a healthy scratch in the playoffs). He did it with Sven Andrighetto (as he was stuck being a healthy scratch and potentially placed on waivers). He did it with Zack Kassian (before playing a game after his suspension and injury). He did it with Jarred Tinordi (barely playing before being traded for literally spare parts). Even David Desharnais was traded after alternating between the press box and the fourth line (at least he got a relatively good return in that one).

Now you could argue that none of these pieces are as big as Pacioretty. But we’re talking perceived value here. Beaulieu and Tinordi were first-round picks. Andrighetto has proven to be much more useful than Andreas Martinsen has ever been or ever will be at the NHL level. Kassian wasn’t given a chance to raise his stock before being shipped out. There were rumours of Alex Galchenyuk being shopped as a restricted free agent after playing most of the playoffs on the fourth line.

It’s a trend. And it’s bad asset management.

When you trade, you try to sell high and buy low. But Bergevin seems mostly incapable of doing that, unless you count trades involving Dale Weise.

Bergevin has made some good moves. The Thomas Vanek and Jeff Petry trades were masterpieces. Acquiring Phillip Danault was a deadline seller’s stroke of genius. Finding Paul Byron on waivers was incredible. The trade to acquire Dale Weise worked out. Signing Alexander Radulov. There are others.

But he has also proven incapable of building a winning roster for today’s NHL — or more specifically, a winning defensive corps for today’s NHL.

In rebuilding his defence (which is not better than last year’s despite his pre-season claims), he’s also inadvertently neutralized one of the league’s best goal-scorers right before reportedly shopping him.

Radulov, Beaulieu, Andrei Markov, and P.K. Subban account for 33% of the primary assists on Pacioretty’s 84 goals at even strength since 2013. All of those playmakers are no longer with the team. Add that to a career-low shooting percentage (4.26%, tied with his rookie year of 2008-09) and you could see why Pacioretty has had a crisis of confidence lately.

You know that Pacioretty will break out of the slump. He always has. His last few games have been among the best he’s had all season. Great teams acquire players like Pacioretty. Bad teams trade them away. Pacioretty is among the top goal-scorers in the entire NHL the last few years. No fancy stats needed. He just scores goals. And, like so many other players, he goes through slumps.

Bergevin has not traded away top assets often since taking over the Canadiens. The list essentially starts and ends with P.K. Subban. I’m not willing to take the Mikhail Sergachev trade into account yet. It was a major move, but I’m not judging a trade of two players under 22 after 40 games. The only other relatively big assets he has traded were Lars Eller and the two draft picks he traded for Andrew Shaw.

The Canadiens could have taken Alex DeBrincat or Samuel Girard — heck maybe even both — but sent those two high second-round picks in a very good draft and got back two likely worse picks in weaker drafts. You could also argue he downgraded going from Eller to Shaw, especially as the team looks for depth at centre.

Trading Sergachev on its own was not a bad trade. But trading Sergachev along with trading Subban, trading Beaulieu, letting Markov walk in free agency, and losing Mark Barberio and Brandon Davidson on waivers shows a distinct lack of awareness of what this team is missing. That’s an entire NHL-capable defence off the roster, replaced with Karl Alzner, Jordie Benn, David Schlemko, Shea Weber, Joe Morrow and Jakub Jerabek.

On their own, none of those moves were necessarily backbreakers. But the combination is one of the biggest issues with the Canadiens right now. That lack of awareness and vision for today’s NHL is one of the many reasons Bergevin should not be the one in charge of future moves.

This isn’t a new trend as he brought on players like Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon in the past as well. He clearly thinks this is the way to build a championship team.

This team is in quick sand. They need someone to pull them out of it. Fighting and panicking will only have the organization sinking in quicker until they are simply over their head.

Marc Bergevin said the collapse two years ago was on him. Despite that claim, one coaching change and two major trades later, the team has not improved. And because of that he shouldn’t be the one to try and get the team out of it.

It’s still on him.