Montreal Canadiens: Best 10 Trades Since 1993

Max Pacioretty was drafted 22nd overall at the 2007 NHL Draft in Columbus, OH. (Photo: NHL)

It’s been over a quarter of a century since the Canadiens have last hoisted the Stanley Cup; by far the longest dry spell in franchise history. Several different factors come into play when assembling a winning team. Obviously most would place drafting at the top of that list, and rightfully so but finding the right fit at the right price through free agency, as well as trades play a big part in building a winner. With that in mind, let’s countdown what I feel are the best 10 trades the organization has made since winning their last championship. I’m looking at trades that clearly benefited the Habs, so I will exclude such transactions as Weber for Subban and Drouin for Sergachev simply because there’s an argument to be made that both sides came away with important pieces… As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated so, let’s dive right in.

#10 Alex Tanguay and a 5th round pick for a 1st and a 2nd round pick

A draft day trade back in the summer of 2008, the Canadiens couldn’t pass up the opportunity to acquire a proven hometown talent. Although Tanguay only played 50 games in Montreal, registering 16 goals along with 25 helpers, it signified a major upgrade to the team’s top-6 forward group at the time. With the 5th round pick also coming their way, Habs selected F Maxim Trunev who never played an NHL game. The Calgary Flames turned to C Greg Nemisz with the 1st (25th overall); the power forward only took part in 15 games for the Flames, recording just one assist. With the 2nd rounder, they opted for D Stefan Elliott who played a total of 87 NHL games, none with the Flames and tallied 25 points (8 G, 17 A).

#9 Sheldon Souray, Josh DeWolf and a 2nd round pick for Vladimir Malakhov

The Canadiens’ management were really high on Malakhov when they acquired him from the Islanders in a blockbuster trade a few years earlier, but inconsistency and injuries caused them to pull the trigger again and send him off to New Jersey where he played only 17 games for the Devils. He never quite lived up to his potential and made a few more stops around the NHL before hanging them up for good after the 2006 season. DeWolf and 2nd rounder (later traded to TB) Andreas Holmsqvist never played a game at this level but D Sheldon Souray went on to play 6 seasons with the Canadiens, posting career bests with 26 goals and 38 assists in his last season with the club. Remembered by fans for his powerful point shot, Souray holds the franchise record for PP goals by a defenseman in a single season with 19.

#8 A 1st round pick for a 1st and an 8th round pick

The Canadiens and Oilers swapped 1st rounders on the draft floor on June 22nd, 2002. Montreal selected winger Chris Higgins with the 14th overall pick and if not for a couple ankle injuries that slowed down the speedy Higgins significantly, this trade could rank much higher. The Smithtown, NY native managed three consecutive 20-goal seasons in Montreal, while Jesse Niinimaki (15th overall) and Tomas Micka (245th overall) never skated on NHL ice.

#7 Richard Zednik, Jan Bulis and a 1st round pick for Trevor Linden, Dainus Zubrus and a 2nd round pick

GM Andre Savard’s tenure with the team may have lasted less than three seasons, but that wasn’t about to keep him off this list when he traded Linden and Zubrus plus a 2nd round pick to the Washington Capitals for young forwards Richard Zednik and Jan Bulis. The Canadiens also received Washington’s 1st round pick that year, which they used to select Russian winger Alexander Perezhogin. Linden’s best years we’re clearly behind him and Zubrus struggled to meet expectations for most of his career. Zednik found some success playing on a bad team in Montreal, recording a career best 31 goals in 2002. Bulis was a serviceable player who put up 40 plus points three times in four full seasons with the team. Unfortunately, Perezhogin couldn’t find his footing at this level, only managing 15 goals in two seasons of North American hockey before heading over to the KHL.

#6 Phillip Danault and a 2nd round pick for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann

A trade that has the potential to rise on this list over the next few years, GM Marc Bergevin hooked up with his former employers in Chicago when dealing Weise and Fleischmann; two wingers who’s contracts we’re expiring at season’s end. In return, Danault, currently playing important minutes with the Habs, is still fairly young at 24 and considered to be a good two-way center. The 2nd rounder, Russian D prospect Alexander Romanov, is where the trade could really become tilted in favor of the Canadiens. Only time will tell, but Danault alone for two players who had no future with the organization is a win, while Romanov could turn that into a homerun.

#5 Cristobal Huet and Radek Bonk for Mathieu Garon and a 3rd round pick

On June 26th, 2004 the Canadiens traded young goaltender Garon along with their 3rd round selection to the Kings. LA grabbed D Paul Baier with the pick and he never managed to make it to the NHL. Garon had two decent seasons in California and moved around a lot in the years that followed; never really establishing himself as an NHL starter. Huet, however, really made a name for himself with three solid seasons with Montreal before moving on and finding success with Washington and Chicago to a lesser extent. Radek Bonk was considered a disappointment after being taken 3rd overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1994. The offensive production was never there and Ottawa sent him to LA who then packaged him to Montreal. He only served two seasons with the team in a defensive role, which he excelled at, before signing with Nashville as a UFA in the summer of 2007.

#4 Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2nd round pick for Max Pacioretty

This one I really struggled with, due to the fact it was made so recently and could rise to the top of this list or fall completely off. Furthermore, the placement of this trade is mostly based on potential, as former captain Max Pacioretty is a proven goal scorer and should give the Vegas Golden knights some decent years. However, it was clearly time to move on and Bergevin did very well here considering the UFA status of Pacioretty and the distraction the whole situation had caused. Tatar has played solid hockey for the Canadiens through half a season but it’s Nick Suzuki who could bust this trade wide open and make Bergevin look like the clear cut winner. Adding a good player with the 2nd round pick at the upcoming 2019 draft could be the icing on the cake.

#3 Jeff Petry for a 2nd and a 5th round pick

If not for Petry re-signing with the Canadiens after being acquired as a rental at the deadline on March 2nd 2015, this trade probably wouldn’t have made it onto this list. The 2nd round pick was packaged up with their own 3rd and 7th picks by the Oilers for G Cam Talbot. Petry is currently playing in his 5th season in Montreal’s top-4 and is enjoying a career year with 9 goals and 21 assists for 30 points through 44 games.

#2 Alex Kovalev for Jozef Balej and a 2nd round pick

Another player originally acquired as a rental, Kovalev quickly became a fan favorite and didn’t hesitate to re-up for another four seasons in Montreal. Recording 264 points in 314 games for the Habs, he was one of the most beloved players of his era. As for Jozef Balej, he played a combined 14 games for the Rangers and Canucks, tallying a single goal and 5 assists. Bruce Graham was selected 51st overall by the Rangers with the 2nd round pick, needless to say, he never dressed for a single game for the blue shirts.

#1 Josh Gorges and a 1st round pick for Craig Rivet and a 5th round pick

Coming in at number one is another trade deadline deal. And once again Bob Gainey was the architect behind a significant trade, sending aging D Craig Rivet to the San Jose Sharks for 23-year old blue liner Josh Gorges and a first round selection at the 2007 draft. Although Gorges was a reliable shut down defender for over seven seasons with the Habs, it was the 22nd overall pick used to scoop up future captain and 5-time 30-goal scorer Max Pacioretty that made this the best trade in two and a half decades for this organization. SJ selected D Julien Demers with the 5th rounder, 146th overall that also came their way in the transaction; Demers never played a single game for the Sharks.

Which trade did I leave out that should be on the list? And which ones made it but you feel should of been omitted?

Thanks for reading.

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One Response to Montreal Canadiens: Best 10 Trades Since 1993

  1. we should have never let sergachev go.he is a cornerstone player.heir to markov on the blue-line.drouin was not wanted by tampa.(he did the unpardonable-quit on his team).terrible deal.terrible.another young talent,cornerstone player sent away.

    kostas January 21, 2019 at 12:22 am Reply

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