Montreal Canadiens: Tomas Tatar, Jeff Petry Currently Too Valuable To Keep

MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 23: Jeff Petry Montreal Canadiens Tomas Tatar (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 23: Jeff Petry Montreal Canadiens Tomas Tatar (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens approach the trade deadline as clear sellers after losing four straight games last week. Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry have too much value  to not be put on the trade block.

The Montreal Canadiens have been hesitant to state their position as the trade deadline approaches. Their management team, led by Marc Bergevin has been holding on to hope that this team can make a run for the postseason. That situation seemed unlikely until their four game losing streak this week made it impossible.

The Canadiens are now eight points back of a playoff spot, have played the most games of any team in the league and just don’t have the runway left to go on a streak that will get them into the playoffs. If Bergevin still can’t figure out whether he is a buyer or seller based on the team’s record, a pair of New Jersey Devils trades should make it obvious.

Yesterday, the Devils shipped out veteran defender Andy Greene to the New York Islanders for a second round pick and David Quenneville. Greene is a 37 year old defensive defenseman who is a pending unrestricted free agent. He can play decent minutes in a shutdown role, but brings little offensively.

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Later, the Devils sent Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a first round pick and Nolan Foote. Coleman is having a career year with 21 goals and 31 points in 57 games. He is 28 years old, and has one more year left on his contract with a cap hit of $1.8 million. Foote was the Lightning’s first round pick last year and has done nothing this season to make anyone think he wasn’t worthy of that selection.

That is a huge haul for the Devils by trading a veteran defensive defenseman who will be a free agent this summer and a guy who is scoring at more than 0.5 points per game for the first time in his career.

What this tells me is the market for sellers is extremely hot right now. There are not a plethora of good rental players available this year and it has driven up the cost for those who are on the market. Greene netting a second round pick was surprising, Coleman going for a first round pick OR Foote should have been enough. Both is insane.

Bergevin has to take stock of where the Canadiens currently are (far from the postseason) and put a few players with value on the trade block. Their only pending free agents are Nate Thompson, Ilya Kovalchuk and Marco Scandella. They aren’t going to be traded for first round picks or top prospects.

Kovalchuk has the most value, but for another team to acquire him they would be admitting they were wrong about not signing him for a million bucks just six weeks ago. It shouldn’t matter, but hockey executives tend to have large egos and wouldn’t be willing to admit fault that quickly.

If Bergevin is going to acquire first round picks for the 2020 NHL Draft which just so happens to be taking place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, he is going to have to trade someone with a little term. He is going to have to trade Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry.

With the Devils setting the bar extremely high for lesser players than Petry and Tatar, imagine what the Habs could get by trading their veteran players?

For a winger who has the same term on his contract, is one year younger and has 22 less points than Tatar, the Devils receive a first round pick from last year’s draft and a first round pick in the upcoming draft. Tatar is worth a first in this year’s draft and an even better prospect than Foote. Heck, the team that acquires him might have to throw in a young player that is nearly NHL ready as well.

Who would be willing to make that kind of a trade? Apparently the Colorado Avalanche were in on Coleman. Imagine the Habs getting a first round pick and Alex Newhook who was taken 16th overall in last year’s draft.

What about the Carolina Hurricanes who have been looking for a top nine forward all year? A first round pick and Dominik Bokk would be a nice return for Tatar. Bokk was a first round pick in 2018 and is playing his second full season in Sweden’s top league. The German winger was excellent at the recent World Juniors, scoring six goals in seven games.

Speaking of Bokk, he was traded just before this season began with a first round pick from the St. Louis Blues to the Hurricanes for Justin Faulk. That trade clearly sets the going rate for Petry at a first round pick and a top prospect as well.

With Dougie Hamilton out of the lineup for the rest of the year, maybe the Hurricanes offer their first and Bokk for Petry instead. Maybe the Vegas Golden Knights offer up their first round pick and Peyton Krebs.

All of these offers sound like a lot for other teams to give up, but looking at the return New Jersey got for lesser players, Bergevin has to consider trading Tatar and Petry. Losing two key players would be tough to swallow, but they both have just one year left on their contracts following this season and could be difficult to re-sign without giving them significant raises.

This team was not good enough to make the playoffs with Tatar and Petry the past two seasons. Will they be good enough next season? If not, then you have to decide to re-sign them when they are on the wrong side of 30 and have diminishing skills or finally trade them when they are pending unrestricted free agents and have less value.

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Adding two additional first round picks in June and two great prospects like Newhook and Bokk would quickly ease the initial pain of losing Tatar and Petry. It would be the best thing for the long-term fortunes of the franchise. With the market value set by the Devils, it is imperative that Bergevin looks into selling more than just pending free agents before the trade deadline on February 24th.