The Montreal Canadiens agreed to terms in a trade for Toronto Maple Leafs star Mats Sundin. What if he agreed to come to Montreal to end his career?
The Montreal Canadiens had a surprisingly great season in 2007-08. They were not expected to be a dominant team after missing the playoffs in 2007, but the Habs would finish first overall in the Eastern Conference standings and head into the 2008 postseason as the number one seed in the east.
They were led by a great season from Alex Kovalev, as well as Saku Koivu, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and Chris Higgins contributing offensively. Andrei Markov and Mark Streit brought plenty of scoring from the blue line and Roman Hamrlik, Josh Gorges and Mike Komisarek were shutting things down defensively.
The Habs also had a few young, interesting pieces in Sergei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse and, of course, Carey Price, at the time. Price was just a 20 year old rookie goaltender, but veteran Cristobal Huet was traded away at the deadline to pave the way for the rookie phenom to take over the crease.
The Habs took out the Boston Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs, with that rookie phenom posting a shutout in Game 7. However, Price struggled in the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Habs were knocked out in five games.
This set the stage for what should have been a memorable 2008-09 campaign. First of all, most of the pieces were back from a strong team and their young netminder now had the experience of expectations and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Secondly, that season would be the centennial season of the Montreal Canadiens. General Manager Bob Gainey set out in the offseason to improve the team and ensure their 100th season would be unforgettable.
To make the Habs a Stanley Cup contender in their centennial season, Gainey set his sights on a legend from the Canadiens oldest rival. Mats Sundin was set to be a free agent July 1, 2008 and then Maple Leafs general manager Cliff Fletcher gave the Habs permission to speak to Sundin before he was to hit the open market.
The Maple Leafs and Canadiens had worked out and agreed to a deal that would have sent something to Toronto if Sundin agreed to a contract with the Canadiens for the 2008-09 season. Since he was going to be a free agent in a few days, whatever was heading to Toronto would not have been a huge package. It likely would have been a mid-round draft pick in a future draft.
As it would turn out, it didn’t matter, because Sundin never signed with the Montreal Canadiens. But what if he did?