Right now, it’s good to be Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens. The team is defying all expectations as the trade deadline approaches, and they have more than enough cap space to further improve their side going forward.
Per CapFriendly, the Canadiens are currently sitting on 9.7 million dollars in cap space, with 44 out of 50 roster spots filled. This is a cushy spot for the organization to be sitting in. They have the roster spots to add talent and the cap space to easily fit them. While it’s easy to assume Montreal might splash out and land a big name that may be available, their options are not limited to just that, especially if Bergevin’s recent moves are any indication.
With Jake Muzzin traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the market for a left defencemen has gotten significantly thinner for the Canadiens. We’ve discussed trading for Cam Fowler previously on Eyes on the Prize, and the cost would not be similar to a rental given that Fowler is signed for several years after this one.
There is also Oscar Klefbom in Edmonton, and given the chaotic disaster that is the Oilers management right now, there is every reason to believe that Klefbom could be stolen right out of Alberta much like Jeff Petry was. That’s just the glaring need right now and even with that, the team has be clicking along this entire season.
They could easily acquire some more NHL caliber fourth-line players, just as insurance depth for the home stretch of the season as well. Again though, they could also stand pat. Regardless, there is a bigger role they could possibly play heading into one of the most hectic days of the season.
With their cap space and contract situation, Montreal could — and likely should — be a landing spot for teams that are looking to offload a poor expiring deal. Montreal’s on-the-fly rebuild has been helped along in a big way by collecting picks and prospects along the way. They already have ten selections in the 2019 draft, and could easily end up with more before February is over.
There are a number of teams looking to shift a contract off their roster to free up cap space for moves of their own. One name fitting into that mold is former Canadiens cult hero Dale Weise who was recently demoted to the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. With another year left at 2.35 million dollars, Weise has found himself as the odd man out in Philadelphia for the time being. Taking him off the Flyers’ hands would be doing them a huge favour, which means new GM Chuck Fletcher has to sweeten the pot to make it worthwhile. Philadelphia has a glut of young defenders that Bergevin might be interested in, not including the ten overall picks available in their cupboard as well.
It doesn’t even have to be just related to bad deals. The Canadiens have the ability to set their prices, especially with teams desperate to distance themselves from the cap ceiling. Teams like the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins are pressed tight against the cap, and both have pieces that might interest the Canadiens in a mutually beneficial trade. It all depends on how aggressive Bergevin chooses to play his hand.
It’s a strange spot for the Canadiens right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. They don’t have to buy or sell, yet they have the assets in place to be both buyers and sellers if they choose to be. They can spend the day collecting draft picks, but at the same time, seek out moves to fill out their roster for a potential playoff run.
Marc Bergevin is likely to be a popular figure on trade deadline day. He has cap space, trade assets, and contract spots to do any number of things. As always though, it’s hard to read what his next move will be, and that’s doubly true for this year’s deadline.