T-minus 47 hours and counting until the start of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
As team general managers and staff from all thirty teams, as well as top prospects expected to go in the first rounds, ascend on the Bell Centre, the trade rumors circulate more and more.
For Montreal Canadiens fans, the “topic-des-last six months” has been the prospect of Vincent LeCavalier coming to Montreal.
An apparent deal between the Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning was killed when names of players the Canadiens were planning to move were made public.
Canadiens' GM Bob Gainey pointed fingers at Tampa GM Brian Lawton for leaking the names after Montreal’s season ended.
Lawton quickly dismissed the allegations.
With the Lightning struggling in the bank account, it seems imminent that they will move their franchise player before his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1.
Despite the verbal exchange between Lawton and Gainey, a Montreal-Tampa deal still registers high on the rumor charts.
The question is, who is Tampa willing to move?
In media interviews today, Lawton seemed determined that LeCavalier would remain in Tampa.
Lawton smiles too much when he talks for my liking. I think he’s bluffing.
So if he is moving LeCavalier, the Canadiens would have to give up a fair bit.
The initial speculated deal in January involved forwards Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec, prospect defenseman P.K. Subban, and draft picks/prospects going to Tampa.
This scenario could still work with Higgins being a RFA. The prospect could be a goalie with Kari Ramo reportedly off to the KHL.
Subban would likely be substituted as he just signed with the Canadiens this spring.
The key to a deal between these two teams could depend on who the New York Islanders select first.
If New York goes with Victor Hedman, that’s how the deal could go.
With Tampa having the number two pick Friday, they can grab John Tavares to fill the void at forward and still have Martin St. Louis and the learning Steve Stamkos with a lower payroll for a couple years.
The alternate scenario could go a different way though.
Still provided that Hedman goes first, Tampa could give up their pick (Tavares) and a few other lesser players for Montreal’s 18th overall pick and a smaller package of players.
Throwing Martin St. Louis into the mix would sweeten the deal for the Canadiens while also helping Tampa’s pocket book.
Montreal retains some cap room to announce that Saku Koivu (on the cheap), Alex Kovalev and, maybe, Mike Komisarek (depending on the Islanders choice) are re-signed.
If Tavares goes to the Islanders, we could see a possible deal along the latter of the two or a deal back to square one.
With a stash of centres in this years draft likely to go in the first round, both Montreal and the Lightning could still have a winner in the draft down the middle.
In all likelihood, we won’t know officially though until sometime early Friday evening when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman takes the stage to make any deal official.