Brewer was in Habs gunsights
Just as Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter was set to speak to the media following the Calgary Flames practice Friday, a voice boomed through the room. "Brewer to the Lightning," turned the heads, and raised the eyebrows of a mixed bag of Flames and Montreal Canadiens scribes.
There had been plenty of chatter and speculation that Eric Brewer, the 31-year captain of the St. Louis Blues, was a possible option for the Habs. The Blues and Canadiens are no strangers when it comes to trades of late (see Jaroslav Halak and Matt D`Agostini), so another deal did seem likely.
The Canadiens were hurting on the blueline yet again last week with Hal Gill and James Wisniewski still probables for this past Sunday's game, and Jaroslav Spacek staying home with a knee problem that won't even allow him to skate. A report in Friday's Buffalo News cited that Spacek was done for the season. The Canadiens have not confirmed this, stating that treatments and evaluations continue in Montreal.
As Saturday progressed in Calgary, I picked up on some very solid sources that Brewer was indeed a target of Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier up until last Friday.
What nixed the deal, and what the Blues were after in return, will remain a mystery.
The Tampa Bay Lightning sent prospect Brock Beukeboom and a third round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft back to St. Louis. Were the Blues after a similar package, such as P.K. Subban or Yannick Weber and a pick, or perhaps a little more?
Brewer's contract status also comes into play. He will be an unrestricted free agent come July 1, and carries a current price tag of $4.25 million. He's reasonably priced, but would not fit within the Canadiens cap, even if Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges salaries come off to LTIR. A roster player would clearly have needed to be move for a deal to have happened.
But with several Habs rearguards contracts due this July, it is quite possible that Gauthier wasn't ready to give up his prized rookie defender in Subban ,and risk losing four or more veterans over the summer.
The acquisition of Paul Mara also seems to make more sense as well. Acquired earler last week, the deal for Mara, from the Anaheim Ducks, may have been Gauthier's inexpensive backup plan. With Gill going through an extensive pre-practice session, with Canadiens strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard, prior to Friday's practice, it may have made Gauthier's decision to walk away from St. Louis easier.