To Trade Or Not To Trade: D-Manding Questions For Habs, Mete, Muzzin

It is hell trying to get to heaven but it is the only way there; purgatory, however, is the new hell.

 

The 2018-19 Montreal Canadiens are about as they look: too good to be bad but not good enough to be great.  They are trapped in a far worse neutral zone than one on any ice around the NHL’s map and that is the one within the standings.  Most any season that does not result in either a run to the conference final (minimum) or a top five draft pick (give or take, preferably give) is essentially a wasted season and wasted seasons seem to be more commonplace than not in Montreal over the last quarter century.

 

What leads there is simple: short term thinking.  Some of the recent chatter around Habs Nation has, once again, created just that.  After landing a lottery spot and ending up with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Canadiens fans and the media alike appeared to be making a bigger shift towards understanding the long term picture for sustainable, bona fide winning and success.  Naturally, 20-some games into a new season, a more exciting product seems to be wrapping many people up in the excitement and causing them to forget the bigger picture in exchange for focusing solely at what is going on in front of them.  There have not been all too many specifics as the process is still young but in forgetting just that, the most specific speculation appears to be the idea of what a trade surrounding Victor Mete for Jake Muzzin would look like.

 

Before looking at that in particular, this is a whole different type of panic button than last season.  This panic button is being pressed by the people that checked out last season and want the Canadiens to push for a Stanley Cup before they can lose interest all over again before long.  The objectively correct answer is: “win if you can, lose if you must but always entertain us.”

 

There was a team that spent extended time drafting young hopefuls or sacrificing picks when they were trying to get good enough to win off of a quick turnaround only to have it blow up in their faces faster than they could pull the moves themselves: the Toronto Maple Leafs.  How have the last fifty years worked out for them? The truth is, they are halfway to finding out exactly that in Montreal.  Let that sink in for a second.

 

Sure, maybe the Montreal Canadiens could think about making a move or two somewhere down the line but it cannot be without regard for the bigger picture and understanding where the team and the pieces themselves are going.  Looking now at the idea of Muzzin for Mete, yes, Jake Muzzin would provide immediate help for the Montreal Canadiens.  The Habs would benefit on the spot from a guy in Jake Muzzin that has metrically shown to be a boost for the likes of Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez.  The benefit to Muzzin on paper is that he is only just about to reach 30 this season and has a year and a half left on a contract that boasts an average annual value of $4,000,000 per season; ample time but not too much term, a friendly cap hit for a team with plenty of space and perhaps a clearer picture by the time they are approaching the end of said deal.

 

That said, accepting a deal for two years of affordable benefit in an immediate state means a sacrifice that this team cannot particularly afford.  Victor Mete, while obviously not salvaging the entire thing on his own, changed the entire makeup of the Montreal Canadiens through 2017-18 for the better.  He will not be a guy that turns a team’s fortunes around entirely on his own but the list of guys to do so is incredibly short and Jake Muzzin is not on that list.  Sacrificing Victor Mete in their efforts to acquire Jake Muzzin would mean sacrificing a whopping nine years of youth and with their value seemingly at an equal sort of perception as it stands should illustrate all that needs to be known.  Mete will continue to develop and get even better, already standing as one of the Montreal Canadiens’ best blue liners; Jake Muzzin is not getting better than he is and he is certainly not getting more affordable come the end of his current contract.

 

The Montreal Canadiens became more exciting and an all around better team as a result of the injection of youth, not the removal of such.  The road to youth, energy, skill and success did not end this past June but rather –more likely– began there.  In order to play hockey in Junes to come again, a team must make its way to the draft podium several times in prior Junes beforehand.  The Habs have just laid the groundwork for what is to come and now there are suggestions that the walls of their new house need to go up and that rather than wait to do so the right way, they should just rip the floor boards out and use those instead without any thought of measurement or consideration for what would be left inside.

 

A team that has just begun to stock the shelves again would be wise to stay the course and instead benefit from another subject of discussion in a similar light: the Dallas Stars apparently bearing interest in the likes of Karl Alzner (to whom they were linked in 2017 in attempt to sign him before he could settle on Marc Bergevin’s offer instead) and David Schlemko, an unnecessary depth piece on a team with a strong handful of guys that can fill that position more affordably and make better use of it, namely long term.

 

Why is it the more attractive move to unload players and salary cap hits when the Habs have the fifth most cap space in the league? Eventually, they will need it and guys like that are not doing anything to take them to where they want to go.

 

The correct path here is to take who you can, go with who you have and simply ride or die and to know what you have before making such hasty, shortsighted decisions.  What might Karl Alzner or David Schlemko attract? Not much but probably more than they are worth.  In the event of a trade for both guys (be it together or separately) then the Habs would find themselves not only unloading Karl Alzner’s contract but in the likely event of retaining a percentage of his salary, unloading Schlemko would compensate for more than whatever they would hypothetically retain on Alzner’s deal.  What they might acquire in return from Dallas, no one likely cares about that as much as they would about unloading the contracts of the aforementioned players.  The time for speculation on that will come but that time is not quite here as of yet.

 

This herein is also a sample size of another truth surrounding the Jake Muzzin possibility: he could help a lot of teams, not just Montreal.  The market for Jake Muzzin will run deep and a team that would be in a better position to be put over the top as it stands would likely make such a purchase and be better afforded in doing so.  The Montreal Canadiens are only a step or two ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in terms of getting back to the promised land, hardly in the realm of being a clear cut buyer that should find themselves able to compete in that market with other hopeful teams.

 

Addition by subtraction is a very real thing and until the Canadiens continue on just a bit longer in doing so, that is their best option before bringing in a bigger name talent unless the market on said name is relatively under the radar.

 

As for addressing the current fear of being incapable of making the playoffs and yet not tanking enough to have the odds of acquiring another lottery pick, this is what moving up or down in the draft is for.  The Canadiens would bear a number of options to move up or down with but as it stands right now, the worst that could happen is not bad at all.  In the event that the Montreal Canadiens should require yet another high level center prospect (that is an absolute luxury to be able to say) then they have a plethora of openings to acquire one; in the first round alone in the 2019 draft class, ten centers find themselves projected to be selected within the first 20 picks with Jack Hughes at the top and Nick Suzuki’s younger brother Ryan at 11th overall which is extremely feasible for the Montreal Canadiens as they look right now.

 

More likely in this draft, the Habs ought to be looking at the type of defenceman that would eventually slot into that spot that Jake Muzzin would and Victor Mete should; four of which occupy the top half of the draft, the top two being high caliber lefties in Philip Broberg and Bowen Byram.  They can shoot for the moon with hopes of Jack Hughes but percentages regardless, if they miss said shot, they should land themselves a star regardless.

 

The market in Montreal has been more accepting than ever about the idea of not making the playoffs or being immediately competitive.  This newfound notion should not be made subject to change at the expense of true and proper success.

 

Mete for Muzzin? It’s a no from me, dawg.

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2 Responses to To Trade Or Not To Trade: D-Manding Questions For Habs, Mete, Muzzin

  1. LA will not trade him for a young defenseman who has never scored a goal in the NHL.
    Mete will soon be bottom pairing or AHL’r within the Habs own organization.
    LA would laugh at this offer.

    Michel December 5, 2018 at 8:21 am Reply
  2. seems about right, never know what the future holds he certainly needs to develop. It seems incongruous with what the coach said about mete, but what you said seems more likely.

    Glen December 5, 2018 at 11:03 am Reply

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