Montreal Canadiens: Stanley Cup Final Stark Reminder of Marc Bergevin’s Worst Offseason

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 04: Alexander Radulov (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 04: Alexander Radulov (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the postseason weeks ago, but the Stanley Cup Final is a reminder of Marc Bergevin’s worst summer.

The Montreal Canadiens hired Marc Bergevin to be their general manager back in 2012. He held the third overall pick and used it to take Alex Galchenyuk. Aside from the early pick in the draft, the Habs did not make any other drastic changes to their lineup in the summer.

Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong and Francis Bouillon were signed as free agents.

A year later, the team had surprised many and made the 2013 postseason. They were physically outmatched against the Ottawa Senators in the opening round and Bergevin decided to address that in the offseason by trading for George Parros.

More from Editorials

He also signed Daniel Briere that summer, after he was bought out of his enormous contract by the Philadelphia Flyers. Still, with Briere in the mix, the key players on the team remained the same as they were when Bergevin arrived. Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher and Galchenyuk were top six forwards and Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban were taking on a heavy burden on defence while Carey Price was in goal.

The team didn’t really make a big shakeup until they traded Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber in June of 2016. Bergevin also traded away third line centre Lars Eller that offseason and acquired Andrew Shaw from the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Weber trade obviously turned out terrific and you can nibble at the price he paid for Shaw but those deals mostly turned out fine in the long run. It was the next summer that was not fine.

The 2017 offseason was a headscratcher in the Bergevin tenure. It mostly impacted one position, but a key winger left town as well. As much as we try to put the decisions made that summer behind us, this Stanley Cup Final is a stark reminder of some odd moves made by Bergevin in 2017.

First, he traded top prospect Mikhail Sergachev to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin. Drouin is a skilled, offensive winger but he hasn’t quite reached the lofty expectations that were set for him. One of those expectations from the management team was that Drouin had the ability to be a first line centre in the National Hockey League. He hadn’t played that position at all during his three seasons with the Lightning.

Meanwhile, Sergachev was taken in the top ten of the 2016 draft and showed all the tools of a potential top pairing defender. He had the size, the speed and the hockey sense to become a key component of an NHL franchise.

He hasn’t quite reached those heights, but he also hasn’t reached his potential just yet. Sergachev is still just 21 but is becoming pretty much exactly what the Habs need right now. A big, top pairing left defenceman who has the potential to be a power play quarterback is the Canadiens biggest need right now.

Their second biggest need would be a top six right winger who plays with some passion and edge, can help score at even strength but also excels on the power play. Someone like, I don’t know, Alexander Radulov?

Of course, Radulov played one year in Montreal before signing with the Dallas Stars. By all accounts, the Russian winger loved his time with the Canadiens and was willing to sign long term in Montreal. Bergevin waited and waited, telling Radulov and Andrei Markov it was “first come first served” as if the Russians were supposed to come to Bergevin begging for a contract.

Radulov would go on to sign a five year contract with the Stars at $6.25 million per year. The Canadiens have been well under the cap for the three years since Radulov left for Dallas.

Now, as we watch the Stanley Cup Final, we get to see Sergachev playing a big role for the Lightning and Radulov bringing intensity, passion and offence that was lacking in Montreal this season.

Watching them fill the roles with other teams that are so desperately lacking in Montreal at the moment is a terrible reminder of what could have been.

The Habs also lost Markov that summer as he signed in the KHL. Alexei Emelin was lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. Nathan Beaulieu was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a pick that would become Scott Walford.

Brought in to replace the entire group of left defencemen? David Schlemko, Mark Streit, Joe Morrow and Karl Alzner. Seriously. Bergevin thought in July of 2017 that this quartet added to Jordie Benn was an upgrade on Markov, Emelin, Sergachev and Beaulieu.

It was, without a doubt, the worst offseason of Bergevin’s tenure with the Canadiens. It was so bad, he should have been fired when the team finished the following season at 29-40-13.

Next. Hypothetical Habs trades with Pacific Division. dark

Bergevin has done well since then to rebuild the prospect cupboard and retool the team. However, watching Sergachev and Radulov go head to head in the Stanley Cup Final is another reminder of that awful offseason three years ago.