Despite the recent divinely-driven winning streak, Montreal needs to be trading players for prospects and draft picks. This season is over. Montreal has to get ready for the offseason.
Scott Gomez (pictured above) has been on the trading block for at least a year now. Unfortunately, two years left at $7.357 million a year and one goal scored in that past calendar year makes him the most untradeable player in hockey today. It's a distinction of sorts.
Here is a list of the Montreal Canadiens who should be on the trading block and who might actually be dealt for an asset in return.
That is as long as current GM Pierre Gauthier realizes that Montreal needs to be trading players for picks and doesn't try to go the other way.
UFA $1.5 million
GP: 48 G: 9 A: 7 PTS:16
In many ways, Travis Moen is the most attractive rental player the Montreal Canadiens have to offer. He is a tough checking forward available for a reasonable price.
The 29-year-old had a Stanley Cup-winning experience with the Anaheim Ducks his second year in the league. At 24 years of age, he played on a shut-down line with Samuel Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer that also provided secondary scoring in the playoffs.
That year, Moen tied for second on the team with Ryan Getlzaf with seven playoff goals.
Still in his prime, the defensively-minded Moen would be an inexpensive pick up for any team looking to fill that checking winger role. Hopefully that means Montreal can extract a useful prospect of second-round pick for Moen.
The Canadiens have yet to make a deal that shows they have given up on this NHL season. GM Pierre Gauthier is probably terrified of fan reaction once management admits the inevitable. Still Moen and fellow UFA Mathieu Darche have been featured recently on a second line with center Tomas Plekanec.
A cynical man would suggest management is trying to inflate both players' offensive numbers in order to make them a more attractive trade deadline pickup.
UFA $2.25 million
GP: 51 G: 1 A: 7 PTS: 8
Hal Gill, at age 36, is approaching the end of his NHL career. The huge veteran has been a stabilizing influence and a mentor in Montreal. His presence is more useful on a playoff-bound team than on a team like Montreal that is several players away from competing for a Stanley Cup.
The veteran Gill was a big part of Pittsburgh's two big playoff runs in 2008 and 2009. He has that Stanley Cup victory on his resume. Teams looking for a big veteran defenseman with playoff experience will look at Gill.
The New York Rangers have a good young defensive corps but their veteran is Steve Eminger at age 28. Gill could bring a veteran presence and admittedly bad wheels to the New York playoff run.
Glen Sather owes Montreal something for the Scott Gomez trade. Perhaps a second-rounder for Gill? If not, look for teams to deal a prospect they are not sold on.
UFA $3.25 million
GP: 46 G: 12 A: 12 PTS: 24
The talented 26-year-old Belorussian has never equaled the 26 goals and 53 points he scored in 78 games in 2007/08. He has been closer to a half-point-a-game player in Montreal ever since.
Despite all that, he is a talented player and a shooter. Brother Sergei escaped Montreal and scored 23 goals and 50 points with the defensively-minded Nashville Predators last year. Andrei Kostitsyn may be able to supply a similar offensive boost for a team looking for a sniping winger.
There are some desperate, offensively-challenged teams out there either in the playoffs currently, like the L.A. Kings and St Louis Blues, or trying to get in, like the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators or Minnesota Wild, who could use another scorer.
L.A. seems the neediest. They are dead last in NHL scoring and have Simon Gagne out with a concussion and Dustin Penner a healthy scratch. Kostitsyn at least could keep up with Anze Kopitar.
It might be possible to pry loose a second-round pick from one of these teams for the inconsistent Kostitsyn.
UFA $1.75 million
GP: 18 G: 1 A: 3 PTS: 4
Chris Campoli is healthy again after missing most of the start of the season with an injury. He is 27 years old and has some offensive skills.
He is a better skater and more versatile than Gill, but doesn't have the track record.
Campoli could useful for a team like the Canucks looking for defensive depth. He might appeal to Ottawa, where he played before. He is unlikely to bring in even as much as Hal Gill might.
GP: 56 G: 4 A: 6 PTS:10
Mathieu Darche is another role-playing checker who may attract attention come the trade deadline.The former McGill University graduate has bounced around the NHL since the 2000/01 season. He has played for Columbus, Nashville, San Jose, Tampa Bay and now, at the age of 35, seems to have settled into a niche in Montreal.
Darche has been a key member of Montreral's league-best (89 percent) penalty kill.
Darche has earned all his minutes in Montreal with hard work. He had a career-best offensive year last season in Montreal when he spent the majority of his 59 games playing on a fourth line with Lars Eller and Benoit Pouliot and produced 12 goals and 14 assists. Darche is never going to produce much offense.
After more well-known checkers are picked up, someone might trade for Darche, but he can't be expected to command much in the way of a return. Of all the Montreal UFA's, Darche is probably the one Montreal is most likely to re-sign, because he can play a role and is very cost effective.
Two years, $4.25 million
GP: 27 G: 1 A: 13 PTS: 14
Offensive defenseman Tomas Kaberle could perhaps help an offensively-challenged playoff team. Unfortunately, his tendency to back away from players he has covered in the defensive zone has made him expendable by the two teams that had him after the Maple Leafs.
He was part of last year's Boston Bruins Stanley Cup win, yet the Bruins were reluctant to play him the deeper they got into the Stanley Cup playoffs. They seemed happy to allow him to sign a three-year, $12.75 million dollar contract in Carolina. The Hurricanes then seemed ecstatic to dump him on the hapless Habs for the soon to be UFA Jaroslav Spacek.
Montreal is stuck with the soft, expensive offensive role player for another two years, though I imagine they would be happy at this point to dump him on playoff team desperate for a back-end puck mover.
I don't imagine they will be able to do it. The current GM is also probably reluctant to disavow a deal he made so soon.
One year, $1.15 million
GP: 8 W: 2 L: 5 T: 1 SV%: .906 GAA: 2.73
The former Colorado Avalanche starter has hardly played at all this season. Teams desperate for some goaltending options going into the playoffs may take a chance on a player like Budaj.
Still, Montreal's organizational has gotten so shallow that they would have to denude Hamilton in order to come up with a backup to replace Budaj.
Montreal would probably be better served just to use him more as the season grinds down and give Carey Price a break.
Two years, $7.357 million
GP: 26 G: 1 A: 7 PTS: 8
No one is taking Scott Gomez off your hands unless you throw a first-round draft pick into the deal with him. Then, maybe.