It was a busy, albeit not overly exciting deadline period for the Montreal Canadiens, as they acquired several role players in various trades. While early acquisitions were met with universal praise, the latter trades left people scratching their heads.
The first trade for Marc Bergevin was out of left field to say the least, it was known that Greg Pateryn was on the market, but it was unclear what his return was. Jordie Benn however, is a great return as a good penalty killing defenceman and decent puck mover. In his debut game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Benn played alongside Nathan Beaulieu on the third pair and on the penalty kill next to Shea Weber and performed admirably. It’s early, but this deal looks like a solid win for Bergevin, sending out an expiring contract for an positional upgrade with a bit of term left.
Perhaps the most shocking move of the deadline saw Bergevin ship out long time forward David Desharnais for Brandon Davidson. Davidson is an analytics darling of sorts, showing the promising ability to suppress shots against which is something the Habs desperately needed to improve on this year. Desharnais had a hard time finding a regular spot this year and when in the lineup, failed to make a real impact. This is a major win for Montreal, as they upgraded a spot of weakness and freed up a roster spot for an offensive call up.
This trade is a major head scratcher, as Ott isn’t really a serviceable player anymore. While he’s a decent face off winner, he bleeds shot attempts against and doesn’t bring much in terms of offense. However, with division rivals loading up on heavier, grittier players it’s understandable to see why Bergevin went out to get Ott. It’s not a great trade by any means, but it’s a draft pick going the other way, not a useful player.
Another bottom six add for Marc Bergevin, but unlike the Steve Ott trade, King has his uses in the Habs lineup. King played on a pair of Stanley Cup winning teams in LA and brings that experience Marc Bergevin loves in his players. He comes as a solid penalty killer, to a team that is in desperate need to sort their penalty killing woes under a new coach. For a fourth-round pick(that can become a third) that’s a small price to pay for a useful role player.
This is the only move of the deadline that I did not understand, Andrighetto is a superior player, is younger and fits the direction the team is supposedly moving in. Martinsen was the worst possession player on the Colorado Avalanche, and doesn’t add much in offence to cover up for his flaws. It’s the only trade I feel comfortable calling a loss on the day. Even trading Andrighetto was predicated on him likely being unprotected in the expansion draft, a GM has to do better in terms of assets received in a trade like this.
Bergevin made a lot of moves relative to the rest of the NHL, and after a strong start it led to a lot of questionable returns. Jordie Benn and Brandon Davidson are great adds to a defensive unit that struggled for large portions of this season. Even Dwight King can supplant Brian Flynn and add a bit more punch to the Habs fourth line going forward. While the Ott and Martinsen trades are currently not popular with Habs fans, neither is a back breaker, especially when either skater will likely play less than 10 minutes a night, if they’re even in the line up at all.
These trades don’t damage the team in the long run, in fact most of these players are on expiring contracts, meaning they’ll be off the books come July 1st. While they aren’t overly damaging to the team, none of these moves addressed the one glaring weakness left in Montreal, that being a top six scoring forward. It may be likely that AHL player of the month Chris Terry gets another shot or Charles Hudon gets an extended look now as well. Either way there is plenty to like about what Bergevin did, even if every move wasn’t a home run. Most notably he did not forfeit any quality prospects for a mediocre rental, even if his acquisitions were somewhat underwhelming.