Mar 5, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty (67) celebrates with center David Desharnais (51) and defenseman Douglas Murray (6) and right wing Brendan Gallagher (11) after scoring a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Vanek Is A Perfect Fit On Montreal Canadiens

Feb 6, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; Calgary Flames goalie Reto Berra (29) falls back on a save on a shot by New York Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek (26) during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens made a huge splash minutes before the NHL trade deadline hit yesterday afternoon. The Habs addressed a huge need by acquiring the best goal scorer on the market when they scooped up Thomas Vanek from the New York Islanders.

Vanek is exactly what the Canadiens needed. A big winger who is not afraid to go to the net and can play the left wing on one of the top two lines. The Habs are set at center with Davis Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec and Lars Eller, and have been using Brendan Gallagher and Brian Gionta on the right side in the top six.

Where they failed to find a good fit, was on the left wing with Plekanec and Gionta. Alex Galchenyuk has played well there, but when he does it leaves Eller saddled by wingers like Rene Bourque and Dale Weise.

Jan 25, 2014; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek (26) scores on St Louis Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) during shootout at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. St Louis Blues won 4-3 in shootout. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Vanek acquisition fits perfectly on the Habs roster. The way I see it, the line of Desharnais between Pacioretty and Gallagher will not change at is has been the best trio in Montreal for several months. Obviously Vanek was not brought in to play in the bottom six, so he automatically suits up alongside Plekanec.

If it were up to me, I would try Briere with Plekanec and Vanek tonight. Vanek and Briere were linemates years ago with the Buffalo Sabres, and though that was a long, long time ago, Briere just fits better in an offensive role. If he can find some of that old spark with Vanek, and have Plekanec and his reliable, steady two way style between them, it could be an excellent second line.

That would leave a third line of Galchenyuk, Eller and Gionta, and I think this is a perfect third line. Eller has struggled mightily to find his offensive game, and needs a pair of consistent linemates to get going again. Galchenyuk is young, creative and probably the most skilled forward on the team right now. Gionta’s offensive game is slipping, but he is still about a half a point per game player, and is a smart, hard working winger, which is exactly what Eller needs to his right right now.

Jan 21, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek (26) scores a goal on New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot (33) during the third period at Madison Square Garden. The New York Islanders won the game 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This leaves Bourque outside the top nine, and if I could help it he would be outside the top twelve. A fourth line of Michael Bournival centering Brandon Prust and Dale Weise would be a perfect bottom trio. The speed of Bournival and Weise mixed with the physicality that Prust and Weise can bring to the table would make the Habs a very difficult team to play against.

When playing a bigger and more physical team like the Boston Bruins, the Habs could scratch Bournival and even Weise to bring in Travis Moen and Ryan White for added toughness.

If Michel Therrien is feeling particularly bold, or ridiculous, or you know, just being Michel Therrien he will still somehow find a way to get Bourque and enforcer George Parros into the lineup at the same time. I honestly don’t see how this is possible, but don’t ever underestimate the entirely unreasonableness of Therrien.

In a perfect world we will see this lineup tonight:

Mar 5, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov (79) celebrates with his teammates after scoring the winning goal during the shootout against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. The Canadiens won 4-3 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Pacioretty Desharnais Gallagher

Vanek Plekanec Briere

Galchenyuk Eller Gionta

Bourque White Weise

But we will probably see this:

Pacioretty Desharnais Gallagher

Vanek Plekanec Gionta

Galchenyuk Briere Bourque

Moen White Parros

Let’s just hope we will eventually get to this:

Pacioretty Desharnais Gallagher

Vanek Plekanec Briere

Galchenyuk Eller Gionta

Prust Bournival Weise

This affords the Habs three balanced lines that can score, and a speedy physical fourth line that would be difficult to play against and could handle minutes against any line on any team.

This trade for Vanek only cost the Canadiens a former and future second round pick, but balances their forwards in a way that they can go head to head with any team in the Eastern Conference.

If Therrien plays his cards right, the Habs could have scoring depth like they had last season which carried them to a division title.

Tags: Montreal Canadiens Thomas Vanek

  • Dennis

    I agree and 2 good pickups cannot hurt the Habs going into the playoffs

    • Jasiah Schaaf

      He seems to be almost fully recovered from a lower-body injury and the Canadiens are likely targeting Wednesday’s game against Boston for his return to action. We will update you as to Price’s condition early next week. Mar 8 – 8:55 AM

  • zak

    I would like to see the Egg line reunited with Vanek on the right side with DD and Briere with Plec and Gio. They seemed to have something going the last time they were together.