Nov 22, 2013; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) skates with the puck against the Calgary Flames during the overtime period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens Rumor Roundup

Feb 6, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens players celebrate their win against Vancouver Canucks at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The National Hockey League imposes a trade freeze during the Olympic break and that was set in effect on Friday of last week. Though no one can make an official trade during the next two weeks, that can’t stop General Manager’s from discussing potential deals. In fact, with the NHL on hiatus, most GMs have more time than usual for trade talk.

On the Montreal Canadiens front, there have been several links to the Florida Panthers recently, but not much else seems to be going on. You can be sure Marc Bergevin is working tirelessly behind the scenes, and I would hope he is looking for a top six winger to play with Tomas Plekanec.

Feb 7, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; Florida Panthers forward Brad Boyes (24) carries the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Florida Panthers 5-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Interested In Brad Boyes

The Fourth Period wrote that Montreal was in talks with the Florida Panthers over Boyes. This to me makes no sense at all. Although I would expect the Habs to find a winger who can score, Boyes is far from the answer. His 26 points this season would place him eighth on the Habs roster, not exactly the difference maker they need in the lineup.

The Habs need a top six winger who can play on Plekanec’s wing and is an upgrade on Daniel Briere or Brian Gionta. Boyes has bee outscored by Gionta this season and is barely ahead of the struggling Briere. If the Habs were to get Boyes, he would just be another veteran right shooting winger who doesn’t fit in the Canadiens lineup.

Jan 6, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (7) skates with the puck against Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Canadiens Talking To Panthers About Kulikov

This rumor makes a lot more sense as the Canadiens could use some help on the blue line. The emergence of Nathan Beaulieu seems to nullify the need for an offensive defenseman, but you can never have too many NHL caliber blueliners.

The Panthers are reportedly ready to move just about anyone not named Jonathan Huberdeau or Alexander Barkov, so it makes sense that Kulikov would be dangled as trade bait. The problem with acquiring Kulikov is Florida certainly won’t be giving him away, and he has struggled this season.

It would be risky move bringing in a defender who has not been playing well and is in the final year of his contract. Kulikov has just 12 points in 57 games this season, but had 28 points in 58 games just two seasons ago.

At just 23 years old, it would be interesting to see if he could rejuvenate his career playing with the Habs. Playing on the power play with P.K. Subban would probably have that effect on a lot of players. This is a real possibility, I just don’t think it would happen before the NHL Draft.

You see, by the draft, the Panthers may realize Kulikov is not willing to re-sign, and even though he is a restricted free agent, if he plays the KHL card Florida will lower their asking price dramatically. No one wants to lose a former first round pick for nothing when he is 23 years old.

Kulikov is sort of a poor man’s Andrei Markov right now. He has all the tools but needs to put them together to become an effective two way defenseman in the NHL. If the Habs do not come to terms on a new contract for Markov, and find themselves searching for some reinforcements on draft day, expect talks to really heat up with the Panthers but not before then.

With the roster freeze setting in, there is not a lot of trade buzz going on at the moment. However, when the freeze thaws on February 24th, NHL executives will have had a lot of time to see what their counterparts are interested in acquiring and moving. That also happens to be just nine days before the trade deadline on March 5th, so expect the rumors to really pick up over the next two weeks as GMs work quietly behind the distraction of the Olympics.

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