After playing without a captain through 2014-15, Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently announced a new one will be selected before the start of the upcoming season. The candidates could come from among last season’s four alternates, which include center Tomas Plekanec.
The Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd made the case for Plekanec as Habs captain, who he considers “arguably the most under-rated player ever to wear the CH”. There’s certainly merit to Todd’s suggestion, as the 32-year-old pivot spent his entire NHL career with the Habs and is clearly their best two-way forward.
However, Todd notes there’s some talk in Montreal claiming Plekanec might be traded to make room for youngster Alex Galchenyuk, who will start the season at center. Galchenyuk, 21, spent most of young NHL career at left wing. Given his offensive skills (20 goals, 46 points in 80 games last season), he will be centering one of the top two lines.
Suggestions that Plekanec should be moved are likely tied to his contract status. He’s an unrestricted free agent next July and is completing a six-year, $30-million contract with an annual average salary of $5 million. His recent comments claiming his agent hasn’t been contacted by management about a contract extension likely stoked the trade rumors.
However, it’s doubtful the Canadiens will shop Plekanec now. As Todd observes, if Galchenyuk struggles at his new position, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s back on the wing by Halloween. That will snuff out suggestions about moving the veteran center.
Bergevin likely intends to evaluate Plekanec’s performance this season before opening contract negotiations. If he’s named Canadiens captain, it’ll be an obvious indication Bergevin intends to keep him around for a while.
BRUINS COULD BOLSTER BLUELINE WITH BIG NAME
Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney spent the summer courting free-agent defenseman like Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff and Marek Zidlicky. However, with training camp opening soon, Sweeney has opted not to add a veteran blueliner.
CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports Sweeney was tempted to pursue Franson as his asking price dropped over the summer, but decided to give young defensemen like Zach Trotman, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow an opportunity to earn a spot. It also means Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid will be given a look as top-four defensemen.
If those youngsters struggle in training camp or early in the season, Haggerty believes Sweeney won’t hesitate to pursue some big-name rearguards who could become available, like Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien or Chicago’s Brent Seabrook.
It’s possible blueliners of that caliber might become obtainable, but Sweeney could be waiting a while. Given the value of Byfuglien and Seabrook to their respective club, the earliest they could hit the trade block this season – if at all – is near the Feb. 29th trade deadline. Of course, that will depend upon whether those clubs are in playoff contention by then.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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