Montreal Canadiens Hypothetical Trade: Who Says No?

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 24: (L-R) Mark Bergevin Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 24: (L-R) Mark Bergevin Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is not usually swinging for the fences at the trade deadline.

We have seen him tinker and tweak his lineup by trading away players on expiring contracts like Marco Scandella, Ilya Kovalchuk and Nick Cousins last season. We have seen him add depth pieces when playoffs looked certain like Dwight King, Steve Ott and Andreas Martinsen.

We have also seen him add a big weapon like Thomas Vanek, but that is a rarity for the Habs general manager.

This season however, the Canadiens built a strong team in the offseason as they were one of the few squads spending big money on free agents and trade acquisitions. When the team hit its first funk they fired head coach Claude Julien for not reaching the high expectations set out for him this season.

Clearly the team is expecting to have a strong season. Will that mean that a big trade is the next move for Bergevin?

If so, he should be keeping an eye on the Nashville Predators as the trade deadline approaches. In a normal season, today would be the trade deadline, but this is not a normal season. With the schedule pushed back, the deadline for making deals isn’t until April 12th.

But, with incoming players needing to quarantine for two weeks after being traded, we could see teams act quickly this year. That means the Habs could be active soon in an effort to upgrade their team.

If Bergevin does decide to make a move sooner or later, it’s quite possible he could try to find a top pairing left defenceman. There is already a logjam on the left side, but no one is showing they are capable of playing top pairing minutes on that side of the ice right now. Ben Chiarot is taking on the minutes, but he isn’t playing nearly as well as he did in the bubble during last summer’s postseason.

The Canadiens could use a player like Nashville Predators defender Mattias Ekholm. He is a terrific defensive defenceman, could play huge minutes, and has shown he is capable of putting up decent offensive numbers as well.

Ekholm is a similar player to Jake Muzzin of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who was acquired for a first round pick and prospects Carl Grundstrom and Sean Durzi. Neither of these players were top prospects on the Maple Leafs, but Grundstrom had played well at the AHL level before the trade.

What if the Habs offered a similar package to the Predators for Mattias Ekholm? He could fill the gap in the top four and play 20-25 minutes per night with either Petry or Weber. He is only making $3.75 million on his contract for this season and next so it wouldn’t be impossible to fit it into the Habs cap structure.

The Habs could also use a veteran fourth line centre that can win face-offs and play some minutes while shorthanded. Erik Haula isn’t having his best season to date, but he is winning over 58% of his draws and is a regular contributor on the Predators penalty kill. He makes $1.75 million this season before becoming a UFA. Maybe the Preds would have to retain about $750,000 to make the numbers work, or the Habs would have to move out another contract, but Ekholm and Haula would fill a lot of needs for the Canadiens.

So, the Habs add a top four defenceman and a fourth line centre while giving up their first round pick, though they protect it from being a top five selection, a really strong prospect in Jayden Struble and a more depth prospect in Rhett Pitlick who is scoring in the USHL but has a long way to go before making it in pro hockey.

So, who says no? Would the Canadiens laugh this off or would the Predators be asking for more in return? Let us know in the comments.