With the trade deadline approaching, general managers around the league are preparing to either shape their teams for the post-season or add future assets for a rebuild.
Marc Bergevin got off to an early start when he acquired Nikita Nesterov from the Tampa Bay Lightning. More news broke this week regarding the Canadiens‘ defence corps, as Bergevin let the other 29 teams know that Greg Pateryn is available in a trade.
This comes as a bit of a surprise after the Habs lost Mark Barberio on waivers to the Colorado Avalanche, and demoted Zach Redmond to the AHL. While outside factors may be having an influence, it’s clear Bergevin thinks he can improve upon the Michigan-native.
He’s not known as an offensive juggernaut, but Pateryn does possess a powerful slapshot; one that helped net him 15 goals in the AHL just three seasons ago. While he hasn’t come close to meeting that sort of production at the NHL level, he has been a steadying presence on the Canadiens’ bottom pairing when given the chance.
He’s suffered from injury troubles, including a broken ankle earlier this year, which has limited his game total, but he has still managed to remain a positive force when called upon.
In a small sample size this year, Pateryn is running at a 51.9 Corsi-for percentage, trailing only Jeff Petry and Andrei Markov in that category. It’s clear that with him on the ice the third pair in Montreal is a solid, albeit unspectacular, pairing. They aren’t going to pile up the goals, but when Pateryn plays the bottom duo does well to keep the shots against limited, and help to get play turned the other way. While Pateryn was on the ice this season the Canadiens have controlled over 53% of the scoring chances and goals.
It’s hard to gauge exactly what Pateryn’s value is going forward. Despite his limited playing time, he’s shown himself to be a highly competent bottom-pairing defenceman. There’s always a market for depth on the blue line; the Canadiens’ GM himself has said many times that “you can never have too many defencemen.”
A likely return would be a combination of mid- to late-round draft picks or a player and late pick depending on which organization comes calling. There are plenty of teams out there looking to shore up their defence, so it’s likely that Bergevin will have plenty of options to choose from. There’s also the chance he’s packaged as a part of a larger deal as well, whether it be picks or other players going the other way.
The primary issue with trading Pateryn is that he still has a place in the Canadiens’ system, and his departure would create a large gap at the bottom of the Habs defence. With him gone, Zach Redmond becomes the seventh defender, with Ryan Johnston and Joel Hanley the only right-side options behind him, both of whom have struggled mightily at the NHL level. Ironically, a good return for Pateryn would be a player of his calibre to shore up a rotating cast on Montreal’s third pairing.
Potential trading partners
Everyone is always looking for help on defence; a fact that is repeated year in and year out. This gives Bergevin the freedom to pick his trading partner as opposed to taking what might be the only offer on the table at the time.
We’ve been hearing about Arizona and Montreal discussing trades for weeks now, primarily concerning centre Martin Hanzal, while we’ve also speculated on an Anthony Duclair trade. The Coyotes have been looking for a defenceman in return for their rentals, in addition to a combination of draft picks or a prospect, with Michael McCarron specifically named earlier in the season.
It was also mentioned that the St. Louis Blues might want some defensive help in exchange for Kevin Shattenkirk. Greg Pateryn could slide into a third-pairing role there, while Shattenkirk would give Montreal a full complement of top-four defenders on the right side. That move would require some substantial additional pieces leaving Montreal, but Pateryn could make up part of the package.
While teams like Buffalo and Toronto are also looking to beef up their defence, a transaction with a divisional rival is unlikely with teams battling each other for playoff positioning. A non-division Canadian team like Edmonton or Winnipeg could be a solid landing spot as Pateryn would likely step into a full-time role with either club.
It’s not easy to move a defenceman when your team is struggling, even more so when the team needs a player like Pateryn to help stabilize the team defensively. If they do choose to move him, the Habs will need Nikita Nesterov and Zach Redmond to play up their potential, or else a problem area may grow into a major issue.