The top Montreal Canadiens players still available ahead of the deadline

Three forwards who could still net a big return for Montreal.

With the 3:00 PM ET deadline looming, NHL GMs are hurriedly working the phones, attempting to make any deal possible, to either bolster their team for a deep playoff run, or to stockpile on prospects and picks in order to bet on the future.

For the first time in recent memory, the Montreal Canadiens will not be buyers, but sellers. Familiar faces may be on the move today, as Marc Beregvin may find enticing deals with contending teams.

We may see a completely different team today than we did opening night, so let’s take a quick look at who the Habs could possibly deal from their current roster, and their accomplishments with the team.

Max Pacioretty - LW

The Canadiens current captain has been under scrutiny recently, but has had a fantastic career thus far with the team that originally drafted him 22nd overall in 2007.  He spent his first three seasons splitting time between the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL and the Canadiens, but stuck with the big club after the 2010-11 season.

In 623 career NHL games, he has been a top-end sniper. He has totalled 448 total points, including 226 goals. A power forward with a wicked snapshot, he has been one of the Canadiens’ top offensive threats since he came into the NHL.

In the last five seasons, he sits seventh in goals in the league, behind players such as Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski, Alex Ovechkin, among others. He was named Canadiens captain in 2015.

His career high for goals in a season was 39 in 2013-14, and posted 30 goals or more in the previous four seasons. This year, he has 17 goals, and has been a down year by his standards, but it could be a side effect of the generally poor play of the whole roster, as well as a lack of chemistry with newcomer Jonathan Drouin.

His playoff performance has been questioned however, as he only has 19 points in 38 career playoff games, often criticized for his post-season play by the fans and the media.

In comparision to another power forward who was dealt recently in Rick Nash, Pacioretty could haul a large return for Marc Bergevin, and he seems intent on acquiring a roster player in addition to prospects and picks for the Canadiens captain.

Alex Galchenyuk

Debatably the best talent that the Habs organization has seen in a long time, Galchenyuk has had a roller-coaster career thus far, having spent five years in the NHL. Drafted third overall in 2012 after exceptional seasons with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, there were high expectations for the 6’1”, 209-pound centreman to become an elite number-one centre for the foreseeable future.

He broke into the league in his draft year alongside Brendan Gallagher, posting 27 points in a lockout-shortened season of 48 games. Since then, he’s slowly improved his point total, with his career high being 56 points in 2015-16, including 30 goals that same year.

Known for his silky smooth puck-handling as well as his ability to let off a blistering wrist shot, his offensive upside has always been the staple of his game, however, his lack of ability to play in his own end has been the biggest question mark to his deployment and growth. As his career went along, he lost the trust of Habs management to become an effective two-way player at the centre postion, and finally seemed to be put in a left wing role this season permanently.

The lack of lineup consistency could be to blame for his offensive inconsistency, but he remains a piece the Canadiens could build around. If put in the position to succeed, he could still be a building block for this team, as he is still only 24 years of age. Earlier in the season he had considerable chemistry with Jonathan Drouin, and it seems to be one thing that will keep him with the Habs.

If dealt, Beregvin will need to keep in mind the calibre of player Galchenyuk could become, especially if properly developed as a centre, and is arguably the trickiest asset he could work with on this deadline.

Andrew Shaw

The gritty two-way forward was signed by Bergevin last season, in a hotly debated move, which pleased some fans, yet confused others. His cap hit of $3.9 million is perhaps the biggest reason for this, and his play so far with the Canadiens has not justified the price tag, nor the two high second-round picks sent to Chicago for Shaw, one of which turned into Alex DeBrincat.

A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Shaw has spent the majority of his career with the Chicago Blackhawks as a two-way forward with an edge, but has the ability to contribute offensively. In his first season with Montreal, he posted 29 points in 68 games, and was often criticized for his play away from the puck, and his discipline was an issue.

This year, he improved upon his faults, and has become a more well-rounded player. He currently has 19 points in 43 games, having been hampered with injuries, including a recent concussion. He has shown to be an excellent complementary linemate however, being able to fit in the penalty kill, the power play, and is able to play all three forward positions.

Andrew Shaw could definitely be considered to be overpaid for the role he plays, but could be an effective depth add for any team in the playoff race. He would also free up a good amount of cap space for the Canadiens if dealt, as well as opening more opportunities in the lineup for a younger player, such as Nikita Scherbak.

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