Montreal Canadiens: Marco Scandella Trades Proof of Why Marc Bergevin Needs To Stay

Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens are going to miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Most teams would fire their general manager at this point, but Marc Bergevin’s trade record is reason enough to keep him.

The Montreal Canadiens season has not gone according to plan. Whatever Marc Bergevin‘s master plan actually is has never been revealed to us fans, but after a 96 point season a year ago, he must have planned on qualifying for the postseason this year. They were so close in 2019, only a small step forward was required.

That step went in the wrong direction this season as the Habs currently sit eight points back of the final playoff spot with 20 games left to play. Time is no longer running out, their chances have expired. That means it is going to be three straight years without a playoff berth in Montreal. That will also make it four out of five years with no playoff games at the Bell Centre and the Habs haven’t won a playoff series since the Hamburglar was all the rage in Ottawa.

A run of futility of that length is usually enough to get a general manager in hot water. Nowhere is that more true than in Montreal where the intensity and scrutiny around the hockey team is turned up a notch. That should be bad news for Bergevin, but his trade record since becoming the leader of the Habs management team will be enough to keep him in Montreal.

Just look at yesterday’s trade involving Marco Scandella. Six weeks ago, the Habs acquired Scandella from the Buffalo Sabres for a fourth round draft pick. Normally, when you acquire a player from a division rival, you have to overpay for his services. Bergevin proved yesterday he didn’t even come close to an overpayment.

He flipped Scandella to the St. Louis Blues for a second round pick and a conditional fourth round pick. Montreal will acquire that fourth round pick if Scandella re-signs in St. Louis before next season or if the Blues return to the Western Conference Final this spring.

That is a lot more value heading to Montreal than heading out in Scandella deals this year. If the Blues win two playoff rounds, Bergevin basically gets a second round pick for letting Scandella play 20 games in his hometown.

That’s like your rich uncle letting you live in his mansion for six weeks while he is out of town and then paying you when he gets back.

It certainly wasn’t the first time Bergevin pulled off some trade wizardry since he took over the reins of the Habs in 2012. A glance at staff list, shows Marc Bergevin has made 80 trades since coming aboard the Habs ship.

Coming up with the worst one is a difficult task. Not because there are a few close calls, but because finding a single bad trade of the 80 is not easy. For a while many fans thought the P.K. Subban for Shea Weber deal would look awful. It does look awful now, just for the Nashville Predators side and not the Canadiens.

You could say giving up two second round picks for Andrew Shaw was too much, but he had the player for the Habs for three season and then was traded for second, third and seventh round picks. Yes, the Chicago Blackhawks did quite well drafting Alex DeBrincat with one of the picks acquired from Montreal, but there is no guarantee the Habs would have taken the same player.

Basically, Bergevin gave up a second round pick and got third and seventh rounders in return as well as the services of Shaw for three years. Not bad asset management at all.

Bergevin also controversially traded away Mikhail Sergachev when the Habs need a left defenseman. He got Jonathan Drouin in exchange and though his first year with the Habs wasn’t terrific, he looked great to begin this season before injuries derailed his breakout. The jury is certainly still out on that deal.

There are definitely no fleecings of Bergevin. He never overpaid for a rental when he was in the rental market. When those rentals fit well, like Jeff Petry and Nate Thompson, he re-signed them to get even more value out of them.

Finding Bergevin’s best trade of Bergevin’s tenure is even more difficult than finding his worst. Not because there are few of them, but because the list of thefts are growing every year.

Bergevin traded Alex Galchenyuk just before his value completely plummeted and got Max Domi in return. He got a second round pick for an over-the-hill Tomas Plekanec who was no more than a fourth line centre for the Maple Leafs before re-signing in Montreal.

HIs best deals came when acquiring young prospects. He somehow managed to turn pending unrestricted free agents Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise into Phillip Danault and a second round pick which was then used on Alexander Romanov. He also landed Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar and a second round pick for Max Pacioretty who was coming off a season where he scored 17 goals and 37 points in 64 games.

His trade record stands for itself. Just look at the current roster. Tatar, Danault, Domi, Drouin, Suzuki, Joel Armia, Weber and Petry all acquired via trade. That list of six top nine forwards and their top two defenders cost them Pacioretty, Fleischmann, Weise, Galchenyuk, Sergachev, Simon Bourque, P.K. Subban and a second round pick.

You tell me which list you would rather have on your roster. Say what you want about Bergevin’s other duties, but his ability to get the most out of a trade and move a player when his value is highest is impeccable.

Maybe the Canadiens could look into bringing someone in as a President of Hockey Operations that exists between Bergevin and Geoff Molson. They could help build up the player development department and scouting departments and take care of some of the business side of things with arena operations and gamely productions.

This would allow Bergevin to focus solely on acquiring and keeping players. Re-signing current Habs has never led Bergevin to trouble either. How many current Habs are overpaid? You could obviously argue Carey Price but what was he supposed to do, send the recent Hart and Vezina Trophy winner packing?

In this scenario, Bergevin would have even more time to invest in pro and amateur scouting, giving him an even bigger advantage when negotiating deals with other general managers. That possibility should terrify the other 30 general managers around the league, many of whom have already been victimized by Bergevin’s shrewd negotiations.

Next. Evans makes great first impression with Habs. dark

With the Canadiens about to miss the postseason for the third straight year, some fans may be expecting a new general manager next season. However, the Habs would miss Bergevin’s ability to make great trades and avoid mistakes when moving players out of town. Maybe his position gets re-shuffled slightly, but firing Bergevin would be a mistake.