Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin likes to quietly deal, and it appears he could be looking to load up his roster as the Eastern Conference leading Canadiens head toward the playoffs. Also, with Cody Franson traded to Nashville and Marc Methot locked up by Ottawa, attentions turn to Jeff Petry and Andrej Sekera at the deadline.
The Montreal Canadiens entered this week perched atop the Eastern Conference standings. Despite their success thus far, there are some areas of concern. The Habs are among this season's lowest-scoring teams while giving up a high number of shots-against per game. That's prompted questions about their prospects for a lengthy playoff run.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin tends to work more quietly on trades than many of his peers. He has acquired playoff rental players in the past. In 2013 he shipped Erik Cole to Dallas for Michael Ryder. He pulled off the steal of the 2014 trade deadline, shipping a prospect and a draft pick to the New York Islanders for winger Thomas Vanek.
That's why there's growing anticipation Bergevin could pull off a significant move or two by this season's trade deadline. It's rumored he's in the market for a scoring forward and a top-four defenseman.
TSN's Darren Dreger reports the Habs are among the clubs with interest in Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette. Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly could be available, but ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun claims there's “zero intel” to suggest Bergevin is pursuing O'Reilly. Sportsnet's Mike Johnston believes the Canadiens could be a destination for New Jersey Devils winger Jaromir Jagr.
To make those acquisitions, Bergevin will have to give up a reasonable return. TSN's Bob McKenzie reports Canadiens forward Lars Eller and defenseman Alexei Emelin have been floating around the rumor mill for “weeks, if not months.”
McKenzie claims the Canadiens seek a hockey deal, rather than merely acquiring rental players. Eller, 25, and Emelin, 28, could have good value in the trade market, but McKenzie notes their contracts could hamper efforts to move them. Both have three years remaining on their contract, with Emelin earning $4.1-million annually while Eller makes $3.5 million.
Those contracts could explain why Bergevin might be willing to move Eller and Emelin. There are concerns the falling Canadian dollar could result in a lower than projected salary cap for 2015-16. Bergevin could be seeking a return, which helps his roster now, as well as providing additional cap space for next season and beyond.
SEKERA, PETRY NEXT TO MOVE
With Cody Franson now with the Nashville Predators and Marc Methot re-signed by the Ottawa Senators, there should be increased interest in Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera and Edmonton Oilers rearguard Jeff Petry.
Sekera and Petry are unrestricted free agents this summer. Petry's a right-handed shot, which is a prized commodity around the league this season and could make him more valuable than Sekera.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports Petry's agent claims he's had no contract talks with the Oilers and expects his client to be dealt by the deadline. Matheson lists the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning among his potential suitors. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press lists Sekera and Petry among her trade options for the Red Wings.
Moving Sekera will be the first significant test of first-year Hurricanes GM Ron Francis. Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News and Observer believes what Francis gets for Sekera, and pending UFA winger Jiri Tlusty, will determine his savvy as a wheeler-dealer. Francis told DeCock's colleague Chip Alexander he expects to be “fairly active” at the trade deadline.
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.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.