Who Can the Canadiens Target on Deadline Day?

The trade deadline buzz is once again upon us, and the Canadiens are no doubt going in as buyers, but the question is, who should they target?

Trade rumours are called rumours for a reason, but there are two very good players that do have somewhat credible links to the bleu, blanc, et rouge. There are also players who I believe the Canadiens should target. For the purposes of making that clear, we will examine them separately.

A) Credible Links

The first player linked to the Canadiens is a long shot, but there are a few experts, one being Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman, who believe the St Louis Blues defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk could be a target of Marc Bergevin’s.

Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Shattenkirk has 11 goals and 23 assists through 50 games with the Blues, who just recently sent a message with the firing of head coach Ken Hitchcock, and may be in a position to trade the impending UFA at the deadline. However, the Canadiens must tread lightly, as Friedman, among others also say that he wants to sign for an American east coast team in the off-season, so Shattenkirk is will likely be a very expensive rental, who the Canadiens would likely not be able to retain.

Even though the Canadiens are in the position to win now, I wouldn’t buy much into this rumour, as the price would be very high, and with the Canadiens likely not being able to re-sign Shattenkirk, it would be a very big risk to make a deal.

Finally, and a tad more “realistic” is Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene.

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

When I say realistic, I refer to the likelihood of the Canadiens acquiring him. The Avs are dead last in the NHL with only 28 points, and will probably look to unload some players. Duchene has been listed in rumours for a while, and at this point, the Habs do seem like a team that would be willing to pay to get him.

 

The 26-year old center from Haliburton, Ontario has had a decent year considering the Avalanche’s struggles, gathering 15 goals and 14 assists in 42 games, and is known as one of the leagues fastest skaters and pure playmakers. He would fit in very well and fill a hole in the Canadiens center depth, playing a 1/2 role with Alex Galchenyuk, and giving the Canadiens a power-play upgrade over Tomas Plekanec.

If the Habs do shell out some picks and prospects to acquire a top notch star, Duchene would be an addition that would be worth giving up a name like Noah Juulsen, alongside first, or second round picks.

 

Honourable Mention:
Gabriel Landeskog

 

B) My picks

There are a few names that I would like to see the Habs acquire before/at the deadline, to increase the chances at a long, and successful cup run. They are not as high profile, but can be contributors to the Habs in the latter part of the season, and in the playoffs. The players values are not in any particular order.

 

This player doesn’t make many highlight reels, but he did score the 2014 Stanley Cup winning goal, his name is Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

I have loved the way Martinez has played his entire career, and is currently having a career year with the Kings, in a season that they have been without goalie Jonathan Quick. He has 27 points through 50 games, well on his way of breaking his career high of 31 last year, and plays solid defence. He is only 29-years old, and has been with the Kings for their two Stanley Cup runs in 2012, and 2014, so he has the playoff experience Montreal would love to have. The Kings are currently in the top wild card spot, but only sit one point up on non-playoff teams. If the Kings do decide to become sellers at the deadline, I can see LA moving some players, and if Bergevin can play his cards right, he might be able to acquire him.

Secondly, there is Radim Vrbata, the 35-year old veteran winger from the Arizona Coyotes.

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Vrbata leads the “Yotes” in scoring with 34 points, including 11 goals, and can add scoring depth, should Brendan Gallagher still be hampered with an injury come playoff time. Even though Vrbata is 35 and somewhat slowing down, his veteran presence, coupled with his goal-scoring ability (He is only two years removed from a 31-goal season with Vancouver) could prove invaluable for a Canadiens team that has had issues with key forwards going down with injuries. Vrbata would be an excellent move to both add some offensive punch to the top-9, as well as be a safety blanket in the case of further injuries.

Lastly, and the least likely of the 3, based on the package going to this team would need to include serviceable NHL’ers. It is Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers.

Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

A few seasons ago, Eberle’s name was frequently mentioned in trade rumours, with Montreal being a possible destination. Now that Eberle is having a bit of a rough year, some say that he may be on his way out of Edmonton. Eberle has the talent to score 30 goals every year, and has constantly scored 20+goals for the majority of his career, with the talent the Oilers have at the moment, and the fact that several Oilers player are due for raises in the upcoming years, now may be the time for the Canadiens to make a play for Eberle. He is a pure scorer, who, when put with the right players, can do amazing things. Having a guy like him can do wonders for the Habs, and could push them over the top in the Eastern conference. Out of all the players on the list, with the exception of Duchene, I strongly believe he would make the strongest game by game impact, allowing more space for the other members of the Habs top-6 forward core.

Remember, rumours are rumours, and if the history of Bergevin’s tenure as Habs general manager tells us anything, if he is in the hunt for a big name, we likely won’t hear about it (Thomas Vanek). However, an addition of even one of these names could make an impact, and give Montreal the piece they need to be a serious cup contender.

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