San Jose Sharks & Montreal Canadiens: Let's Make a Deal

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IJuly 24, 2009

MONTREAL, CANADA- APRIL 24:  Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens raises his arms in celebration of a goal by Alex Kovalev #27 against the Philadelphia Flyers during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 24, 2008 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.  The Philadelphia Flyers are tied with the Montreal Canadiens 2-2 after two periods.  (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

With the San Jose Sharks right up against the cap and already carrying seven top-six defensemen, the whole world is expecting GM Doug Wilson to trade defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.

However, the issue has been who Wilson can get in return. Some fans have even suggested just giving him up for draft picks in order to simply dump salary.

But with the Sharks having issues when it comes to scoring depth, and the Montreal Canadiens making numerous changes this offseason, it may not be too difficult to make a deal that works for both sides.

Whether or not lesser known players or draft picks are included on either side, the deal should be centered around Christian Ehrhoff heading to Montreal, while Tomas Plekanec heads to San Jose.

Sharks fans have been quite impressed with Plekanec, who has tallied three points, including two goals, in two career games against San Jose.

The Montreal forward has produced three straight 20 goal seasons, including a 2007-08 campaign where he tallied 29 goals and 69 points.

Although Plekanec's goal numbers dropped to 20 last season and just 39 points, his offensive abilities with the puck will be an added boost to a Sharks team that mostly plays a north-south style.

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Therefore, Plekanec's smooth puck-handling and passing abilities would be a nice addition to a team of fast, straight-ahead skaters who aren't the most creative with the puck.

Plekanec on the ice with Milan Michalek and Ryane Clowe would be a nice trio which would allow Joe Pavelski to drop down to the third line and play alongside Torrey Mitchell.

Granted, both Pavelski and Mitchell are centers, but in reality, teams can never have enough guys with talent in the face-off circle.

And a combination of Pavelski and Mitchell on the third line would bring an added scoring punch to a Sharks' third line that provided little offense last season.

Just look at how Patrick Marleau changed from center to wing last season, and you see that he posted his career best goal total with 38. Clearly, moving a center to wing can allow for an increase in goal scoring.

If Plekanec joined the Sharks, he could move over to wing or either Pavelski/Mitchell could slide over, as well.

Regardless, with Plekanec on the roster, the Sharks would now have a much need scoring punch to their third line.

On Montreal's side of things, they would be getting a defenseman in Ehrhoff who posted career numbers in assists and points last season (34 and 43, respectively). The San Jose defenseman's best totals prior were 23 and 33, back in 2006-07.

Now so far this offseason, Montreal GM Bob Gainey hasn't been shy when making moves and as a former defenceman himself, he could make Christian Ehrhoff his personal project.

With Gainey, Markov, Spacek, Hal Gill and Paul Mara tutoring him, all aspects of Ehrhoff's game could improve drastically.

Now Ehrhoff does have two more years left on his contract which is worth $6.2 million, and Montreal may not want the salary cap hit. But Plekanec is due to make $2.75 million next season, so the move wouldn't really affect either team against the cap.

But if they were willing to make a move, the Canadiens would be getting a tremendous offensive defenseman. Ehrhoff's speed and booming shot would help give Montreal a much needed offensive punch from the blue-line.

Other than Andrei Markov, who posted 64 points last season, the Habs don't have much offense from their re-tooled defensive corps.

Newcomer Jaroslav Spacek did have 45 points this past season, but he really isn't that much of an offensive force on the blue-line. Before last year, Spacek had posted no higher point totals than 32 in 2007-08 over the last five seasons. Furthermore, Spacek is now 35, and is on the downside of his career.

Ehrhoff on the other hand, just turned 27 and is entering his prime years as a defenseman; and if he can ever get his shot on net, he has the potential of putting up 15-plus goals as a defensemen.

If he were teamed up with Markov on the power-play, nobody in the East would want to get in the way of the shots those two would be bombing away from the blue-line.

Since Bob Gainey hasn't been afraid from making changes, his willingness to make a move may just be enough to for Wilson to swing this deal with Montreal.

Granted, Montreal may not want to take on Ehrhoff's contract, which still has two years and $6.2 million remaining.

However, the Sharks ought to try and make this move, because it would give them a bit of extra cap room and would fix their need for added scoring depth.

Either way, its an intriguing possibility and the move would benefit both clubs.