Montreal Canadiens: Should Habs Make Space For Gostisbehere?

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 23: Shayne Gostisbehere #53 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates during the second period of the preseason game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on September 23, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 23: Shayne Gostisbehere #53 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates during the second period of the preseason game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on September 23, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Montreal Canadiens fans, it’s time to play a game that everyone loves: Armchair GM.

Flyers defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere has been put on waivers as per the team’s social media. Rival teams will have 24 hours to put a claim on him and pick up the rest of his contract which holds an annual cap hit of $4.5 million until 2022-2023.

A quick tour around the twittersphere and you can guess that reactions are mixed regarding this move. Many claim that “Ghost” is overrated, while others think he simply hasn’t been used properly.

Should we abandon so quickly on a 27-year old player that still has yet to reach his full potential?

It’s no secret that his name has been linked on numerous occasion to the Canadiens. Fans have been clamouring for a left-side offensive-minded defenseman since Andrei Markov left the ship in 2017.

The difference between Markov and Gostisbehere however, is that Markov was also solid in his own zone. Something that Gostisbehere has yet to prove at the NHL level, receiving loads of criticism for his lackluster play without the puck. Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault, who is widely considered one of the league’s elite defensive practitioners, has significantly cut down on his defenseman’s ice time and has even sent him to the press box on more than one occasion.

Maybe a change of scenery is exactly what Gostisbehere needs. You have to remember that it was only 3 years ago that he posted a career-high 65 point season. Despite the defensive liabilities that has been claimed, I wouldn’t spit on someone who has 210 points in 365 games.

A key fact to take into consideration is that at the end of last season, Gostisbehere underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees. With the delayed start to the season, it allowed him to heal and be ready for the new season, but as with most major surgeries, he has yet to get his groove back. Pair that with the non-stop rumors of him being traded and it has got to weight heavily on anyone.

So do you take a risk on someone like him? Absolutely. Give him a role as a power play specialist, monitor his minutes closely and pair him with someone who can protect him defensively, and you can have a very positive asset to your squad.

Now the $4.5 million question. How do you afford him?

As of the time of writing this article, CapFriendly states that the Canadiens have $1,366,141 of cap space. Even if an Artturi Lehkonen trade does happen as Ken MacMillan addressed those rumors earlier, Marc Bergevin would still find himself about a million short.

What if we were to flip Brett Kulak? Packaging his contract along with Lehkonen’s would free up $4.25 million. That’s of course, assuming Marc Bergevin can find a dancing partner willing to take on these players in return for prospects and picks.

Now Kulak is a likeable guy. He plays hard every shift, he knows his role and he understands that every game he’ll always be fighting for a spot. He’s proven to be a reliable 6th or 7th defenseman and he’ll never complain about it. Same can be said about Lehkonen.

Maybe the San Jose Sharks can be the perfect trade partner. The team seems to be going through a reset and multiple sources have reported that Patrick Marleau would “seriously consider” a trade.

So, why not?

Yes, Marleau is 41 and will most likely ride into the sunset when the season is all said and done. However, what contender wouldn’t take him even if at a reduced role? A veteran left winger who can play center in a pinch, is extremely respected by his peers and should soon be sitting on top of the record books for the most career games played. Oh, and in a season where every penny counts, has a cap hit of $700,000.

Everyone loves a guy like this. Veterans love the old war stories and the youngsters look up to someone as consistent at Marleau. Not a bad mentor for Cole Caufield to have for a few months if he gets called up to the big leagues.

Even if it all makes sense, you go back to good ol’ Shayne and wonder a few things. Will his French background motivate him to step up his game in a market like Montreal? He has French-American citizenship and although he doesn’t speak french, his father is native of France and his French-Canadian maternal grandfather, Denis Brodeur, who was from Montreal and a huge Montreal Canadiens fan, influenced him to pursue hockey. Despite growing up in Florida, maybe this could be a homecoming of sorts which could spark a fire inside of him. Besides, many players have had their motivation ignite just at the site of the Hockey Temple and its parade of Stanley Cup banners and retired numbers.

Or maybe the kid is just another Mark Streit. Another Marc-Andre Bergeron, even. Another long line of offensive-minded defenseman who will score or assist on a big power play goal but will also cost you the game because of poor coverage in his own zone.

If claimed by the Canadiens, or anyone else for that matter, will the real Shayne Gostisbehere stand up?

Next. NCAA Free Agents for Habs to Consider. dark

So i’ll throw the ball back to you now, fellow reader. If you’re General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens, do you push for a deal with San Jose that involves Lehkonen, Kulak, Marleau and a pick in return and claim Gostisbehere off waivers? Or do you stand pat and run with what we have?