Montreal Canadiens Trade Talks: Arpon Basu Wonders If Trevor Zegras or Martin Necas Are The Answer For Habs

Trevor Zegras and Martin Necas may not be worth the price of acquiring them for Montreal Canadiens.
Sweden v Czech Republic - Semifinal - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia
Sweden v Czech Republic - Semifinal - 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Czechia / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Montreal Canadiens fans were likely unhappy with the article Arpon Basu released on The Athletic Tuesday morning. The hope amongst the fans was that a trade was coming for the Canadiens to acquire either Martin Necas or Trevor Zegras. However, Basu reveals that it could be another offseason of wait-and-see instead of the big splashes we were looking forward to. Basu pointed to last season's scenario that played out with Pierre-Luc Dubois as a possible blueprint for this year's plans. Basu's article is worth a read for subscribers who haven't viewed it yet, as he also touches on the Juraj Slafkovsky and Kaiden Guhle contract extensions.

For this piece, we'll look at the belief that the Canadiens won't be acquiring Zegras or Necas. Elliotte Friedman recently reported that the Hurricanes want a star-level player for Necas. Basu contemplates that Mike Matheson could get the deal done, but it'd be impossible for the Canadiens to replace his 20+ minutes per night and special teams play. My Sorting Out The Montreal Canadiens Blue Line piece said that I'd move Matheson to make room for some of the young defensemen, due to Matheson's declining play last season. A trade of Matheson wouldn't be a dealbreaker to acquiring top-forward talent for me, but I don't necessarily feel like Necas and Zegras are the answers.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Showing Winning Blueprint

Go back and watch Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final or the remainder of the series. The Florida Panthers win games through physical play, intimidation, and sometimes borderline dirtiness. Getting a shiny new offensive player is good in theory and will help the Canadiens reach their goal of making the playoffs. However, can you close your eyes and imagine Zegras or Necas being a factor in a big playoff series against a team like Florida?

I can't imagine it. There's a better argument to be made for Necas, who just helped lead Czechia to a Men's World Championship and had nine points in 11 games for the Hurricanes in the playoffs last season. However, Basu's article states that Necas may be looking for a change of scenery because he doesn't like the Hurricanes' style of play. Like it or not for Necas, the Hurricanes' style of play can win games in the playoffs. If he wants to join a team that plays the opposite of that, it won't necessarily lead him to playoff success.

Zegras would be a non-starter for me. We just saw the Panthers shut down Nikita Kucherov, David Pastrnak, and Artemi Panarin in this playoffs with their physical play. Zegras isn't near the level of any of those players and would crumble under the weight of players like Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, and the Panthers' bruising defense leaning on him for seven games.

A good start for the Canadiens is to stand pat this offseason, draft a big forward like Cayden Lindstrom with the fifth-overall pick, and wait for a playoff-style player to become available in the trade market. Those types of players don't become available every day, but it'll be worth the wait when they're helping the Habs contend for a Stanley Cup down the road.

A popular narrative is that the game is changing and the big, physical players are a dying breed. However, time and time again we see teams full of those players make the Stanley Cup Finals, while the league's finesse players like Pastrnak and Panarin flame out in the middle rounds of the playoffs.