Come this year’s trade deadline, the Habs will be looking to buy. General Manager Bob Gainey already showed that by acquiring veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider. That addressed the Canadiens need for a point man on the power play and a steady defenseman.
Schneider has already improved the power play after joining the team; with the team being 8-for-19.
What do the Canadiens need going into the playoffs? The most obvious answer is a game-breaker—a gritty power forward that can score big goals. The team has always lacked size up front and a proven goal scorer; both these needs can be addressed by one player.
Since it’s been talked about for so long I’m going to throw his name in just for fun—Vincent Lecavalier. I personally believe he is still up for grabs. Other names to consider would be; Olli Jokinen at $5.25M who is struggling this year, but a change of scenery might help.
Ilya Kovalchuk at $7.5M and Atlanta may be looking to trade him. All these forwards can provide the needed scoring touch.
Another good pickup would be a gritty role player. Ian Laperriere is a name that comes to mind, he is a veteran who isn’t scared to drop the gloves. Chris Neil is another option. Montreal needs someone who can stand up for the stars of the team, as Laraque has been a disappointment so far.
What would the Habs have to give up in return for the short-term or possibly long-term future of the organization? With many potential free agents this summer and depth in the farm system, Gainey has many bargaining chips.
In order to make room for guys like Pacioretty and D’Agostini who have been promising thus far, Tanguay and Higgins may be expendable. Along with some prospects in the farm system and draft picks, Gainey could put together a package to land a big name player. Some may wonder why Tanguay?
Although he is a gifted player, he lacks size, has a high price tag and is a UFA. Tanguay could fetch a good return from a team making a playoff push. Some of the prospects can also be moved as they might never get a chance with the big club.
This may hurt the future of the team, but prospects need to be offered in trades in order to get something in return.
On the other hand, Price, Komisarek, Kostitsyn, Markov, Gorges and Halak are all untouchable. Halak in his recent stellar performances has shown he is the perfect backup in case Price falters at times.
These players make the core of the team. Gainey needs to add the right veterans around these guys to make the team competitive for years to come.
A prime example of making no changes is last year. Montreal got beaten up by the Bruins and could not keep up with the Flyers. The Eastern Conference is as competitive this year. If the Habs are to beat teams like the Capitals, Bruins or the Flyers—grit and size need to be added to the team.
Gainey may have to give up his conservative approach if he wants the team deep in the playoffs. The way the Canadiens folded on the recent but forgettable road trip, this team has no chance of winning a playoff series. Some of the star players need to bring leadership and character to the dressing room.
I am against trading the future, but realistically there is no way of bringing a big name to Montreal via free agency due to media pressure. Bob Gainey is going to be a busy man for the next few days.