Ranking the Montreal Canadiens Most Likely to Be Trade Bait in 2013-14 Season
By most accounts, the Montreal Canadiens are going for it this coming 2013-14 season.
The team that finished first in the Northeast Division, only to lose in five games to the Ottawa Senators, has, for all intents and purposes, remained intact with most every hole addressed in the offseason.
Inconsistency in net? Check, with the Habs hiring a new and proven goaltending coach in Stephane Waite.
Lack of size? Check, with the acquisitions of Douglas Murray and George Parros.
Lack of offense in the playoffs after scoring just nine times? Check, too, after signing clutch scorer Daniel Briere.
That said, no team is perfect and the Habs may still find themselves looking for someone to put them over the top. Here are the most likely Habs without no-trade clauses to become trade bait this coming season.
5) Davis Drewiske
After the Habs signed 6’3”, 245-pound defenseman Douglas Murray, the 6’2”, 220-pound Davis Drewiske became somewhat of a redundancy.
Re-signed in June to a one-way contract as an insurance policy with Alexei Emelin injured, Drewiske still places below Hamilton Bulldogs Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu on most analysts’ depth charts of the organization.
With the five other regular defensemen pretty much guaranteed roster spots in Francis Bouillon, Raphael Diaz, Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban, there’s just no room for Drewiske.
Barring another injury, once Emelin returns, his value to the team as a greeter to journalists in the press box will drop to about nil.
The question is how much will other teams value the services of a depth defenseman who wasn’t trusted with so much as a single minute of ice time during the 2011-12 playoffs with the Los Angeles Kings, who didn’t need him in the least bit.
The answer, at least this past April when Montreal traded for him? Apparently a fifth-round pick.
It’s probably even less now after he failed to dress for a single game for the second consecutive spring, this time “playing” for a team that actually was desperate for size and healthy bodies in general.
As such, Drewiske takes the last spot on this list. It’s not because he’s the tradable asset the Habs would least want to get rid of, but because he’s the least valuable and not so much likely trade bait as waiver wire fodder.
4) Francis Bouillon
Similar to Drewiske, Bouillon may find himself as an odd man out on defense when Emelin returns. Unlike Drewiske, however, Bouillon may have very real value to other teams, as the 38-year-old brings much-unheralded physicality to the table.
He may have a near-non-existent offensive game, never scoring more than five goals in any one season. Still, his value as a third-pairing, steady defensive defenseman who can kill penalties, and, yes, play on the power play for lack of absolutely any other option is pretty high.
Also, unlike Drewiske, Bouillon will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, giving the Habs good reason to want to unload him for fear of losing him for nothing.
He doesn’t place all that high on this list, though, because, dating back to his days in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he’s been one of Michel Therrien’s favorite players.
It’s likely no coincidence that Bouillon was signed on the first day of free agency last year, less than one month after Therrien was brought on as the team’s new head coach. This actually represents Bouillon’s second stint being coached by Therrien in the NHL and his fourth overall.
As much as it would seem like the two are going for some kind of obscure record, Bouillon will likely stay with the team for the entirety of this coming season.
3) Ryan White
With the Habs trading for Parros, who’s 6'5" and 228 pounds, Ryan White, like Drewiske, has essentially been replaced. However, unlike with Bouillon, the Habs likely won’t run into the same problem of potentially trading away a favorite player of Therrien’s.
Finding himself in the doghouse time and again last year, White—a fourth-liner who, if he’s doing his job right, shouldn’t be garnering much attention—once crossed the line so far he got himself called out after a game in the press by the head coach.
Despite Therrien’s feelings for White likely not being a roadblock to any hypothetical trade, the fact that he was called out in the first place points to several other predominant issues that could hold up a deal.
His incredible ability to drop the gloves with the best of them (sometimes to the point of amazingly beating someone senseless before they can even get them off) is about all he shows off regularly at the NHL level. That’s in addition, of course, to his inherent lack of discipline that gets in the way of an otherwise-effective effort on the penalty kill (and his team winning).
As a result, the Habs may not attract all that many suitors for White’s services. The undeniable fact, though, is he brings a solid, sincere effort every time he dresses. He is solid in the faceoff circle and even displayed solid scoring instincts in junior.
His $700,000 price tag and the fact that he will only be a restricted free agent at year’s end could sway some teams to look past his shortcomings and take a flyer on him.
2) David Desharnais
There is undeniable chemistry between David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. However, chemistry, unless you’re on a high school teacher diagnosed with lung cancer looking to enter the drug business, only gets you so far. And, even then, a predisposition to violence is kind of a prerequisite.
If looks could kill, the squirrely 5’7”, 170-pound Desharnais just doesn’t appear to have it in him.
After scoring 60 points in his first full season with Montreal, Desharnais followed that up with a 28-point effort in last year’s 48-game season. With his new 3.5-million-per-year contract kicking in this coming season, there is clearly pressure on him to rebound.
The bad news, though, is Desharnais is holding a double-edged sword.
If he doesn’t play well, the Habs’ will want to unload his contract all the more. If he does, considering up-and-coming centers Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk are chomping at the bit for a top-six role, the Habs may take the opportunity to trade him away at the first opportunity his stock is high.
The only thing Desharnais might have going for him, if you can call it that, is how no one else likely wants him. Most teams just don’t have a need for a top-line center that small. Look for the Habs to try their hardest to dangle him as trade bait as a result.
1) Louis Leblanc
If the Habs are serious about contending, it will be a combination of picks and prospects and not roster players with which they’ll most likely be parting at the trade deadline. And Louis Leblanc just so happens to be the only non-untouchable among the team’s top prospects.
Leblanc obviously had a bad season, scoring just 18 points in 62 games in the American Hockey League. With the emergence of Galchenyuk at center, he’s unfortunately become expendable. No matter how you slice it though, he’s still a 22-year-old former first-round pick with some upside.
Sure, the Habs could most certainly get more by offering up the likes of defensemen Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing or even should. Not necessarily so regarding Leblanc.
That isn’t to say Leblanc has worn out his welcome in a Habs jersey and he will likely be given every chance to prove himself worthy of an NHL career this coming season.
Should he be successful, though, like in the case of Desharnais, the Habs will probably take the first opportunity to cash in. He’s at least got the pedigree (relative to Desharnais) to generate legitimate attention from other clubs.
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