Latest on the Canadiens, Avalanche and Stars – December 9, 2016

by | Dec 9, 2016 | Rumors | 49 comments

Could the Montreal Canadiens pursue Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal?

Could the Montreal Canadiens pursue Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal?

Latest on the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche & Dallas Stars in your NHL rumor mill. 

TSN MONTREAL 690:  Darren Dreger commented on the limited trade possibilities facing Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin to address the absences of center Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais, who are both out 6-8 weeks with knee injuries. While Dreger believes Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal would be a good fit, he’s an unrestricted free agent. If the Coyotes trade him, they’ll want a good young prospect from the Habs.

Dreger said it doesn’t appear there’s been any high-level discussions between the two clubs over Hanzal. Dreger said Hanzal’s name is only attached to the Canadiens because pundits like himself think he’d be a good fit in Montreal. He also points out the difficulty in making impactful in-season trades. 

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports via Twitter that he doesn’t believe the Habs “have shown that much interest in Martin Hanzal so far this season… does that change now ? Don’t know…”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Dreger notes, Bergevin and his staff will try to ride this out for now. The Habs GM is probably looking around for an affordable short-term option, but he could find those pickings very slim. Hanzal might be a good fit with the Habs, but they could be unable or unwilling to meet whatever asking price the Coyotes set for him. Other clubs could also outbid Bergevin. Right now, the trade market is very quiet. If Hanzal gets traded, it’ll likely be near the March 1 trade deadline. 

THE DENVER POST: In a recent mailbag segment, Terry Frei responded to a reader wondering when the struggling Colorado Avalanche will stop protecting their core players (Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, and Semyon Varlamov) and finally pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal to shake things up. Frei said Avs GM Joe Sakic won’t tip his hand, “but after all the commitment to those six — financial and otherwise — I don’t expect a deal anytime soon.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Avs miss the playoffs this season, I expect Sakic will shake up the roster. He won’t trade all of those core players, but guys like Varlamov, Landeskog or Duchene could hit the trade block next summer. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Mike Heika reports the combination of injuries to speedy forwards Mattias Janmark and Alex Hemsky and losing veteran defensemen Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers and Kris Russell has forced the Dallas Stars to promote young players to replace them. That’s affecting the club’s dynamic compared to last season.

The fact the Stars have nine healthy defensemen could mean someone such as Patrik Nemeth or Jamie Oleksiak gets traded. He also notes that forwards such as Patrick Sharp appear to be nearing the end of their careers, which could create some fear among them. There’s also the opinion from many outsiders that the club’s goaltending needs improvement, making netminders Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi wary of their futures. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing key players to long-term injuries and watching others depart via free agency last summer definitely affected the Stars chemistry thus far. Many of those young replacements are still adjusting to the NHL pace. Their goaltending, meanwhile, needs an upgrade, but Lehtonen and Niemi carry expensive contracts that are difficult to move. GM Jim Nill will have his work cut out for him trying to address those issues. 


  1. Up with the chickens I see Lyle.

  2. Regarding the proposal from yesterday re Greiss and Strome to the Leafs.

    Happy to take Greiss over Ramo. Or Halak. I don’t know which is more likely to move.

    Strome – pass, too expensive for a 4C.

  3. *Warning* Off topic. Gary Lawless wrote a piece on TSN yesterday stating he believes Patrik Laine will be if not already a better player then Matthews, will be proven to be the best player from that draft. First you must realize the Lawless works in Winnipeg and does Jets games on tsn3 and has a sports radio show “Hustler and Lawless.” I can pretty well guarantee you the only leafs game he saw was when they played the jets. With all that said, do you believe he is right?

    • Pretty early Caper, but not much else going on to discuss.
      Methinks Laine has more freedom to focus on scoring goals, where Mathews is focusing on playing a 200′ game which is a must for a C.
      And if you want to play for Babcock as a C.
      Depends what you value more. Elite goal scorer, really hard to find.
      Elite 200′ center, who does it all but scores less than Laine.
      The way I look at it is, would you rather have Toews/Bergeron or Ovechkin?
      I will take Toews or Bergeron.
      It is not how much your team scores, but if you score more than the other team.

      • I like laine as well he plays a very underrated two way game

      • Ray Bark, I think you answered the Laine-Matthews debate the way I would.
        Different positions, and centre is a harder starting place. but you simply can’t deny Laine’s shot…it is really up there in terms of velocity.
        Teams would be happy with either but if you are one of the bottom teams in the nHL right now, and had top choose, i think most would be going instant goal scorer.

      • Ya, they are rare.

      • When in doubt and 2 players are close in overall assessment and one is a C – take the C. Every time. Something Edmonton should have done when given the choice of Hall or Seguin.

      • Good point Ray Bark. How many rings does Ovey have from scoring goals? Then look at toews, berg and crosby. Obviously a lot more goes into building a cup contender but that stars have always been good.

    • Lawless just said something controversial that appeals to his base to drum up clicks. Even a basic understanding of stats or hockey tells you that he’s drawing the wrong conclusions from too small a sample size.

      Laine is shooting 21.8% so far this season. The very best shooters never maintain more than 14% or so, so that’ll come down. Probably down to about 12% is my guess, in line with Ovechkin’s career numbers.

      You look at something more sustainable like shot generation, he has 78 shots in 558 minutes – 8.4 shots per 60. At 12%, that’s 9 goals – 8 less than he currently has.

      Make that simple adjustment and he has a point less than Matthews, in way more games and minutes. Matthews numbers also appear more sustainable. He has 93 shots in 432 minutes, 12.9 shots/60 – better than Laine.

      Now look at the defensive side. Laine is also giving up shots at a healthy clip – he’s a 46.7 CF% and he is a drag on team mates at a -2.8 CF rel%. Matthews on the other hand is a relative possession beast, at a 54.4 CF% and 4.6% CF relative to team mates.

      Now, Matthews I have seen every minute of his play. He’s sheltered and deployed against weak competition, but you can see clearly why his possession numbers are excellent. He dominates the puck – impossible to separate from the puck and excellent on retrieval.

      Laine, I have no idea what he’s doing and how he’s deployed. My guess is similarly. Anyway, he’s a clear star shooter. WPG is really, really lucky to have him, just like TOR is to have Matthews.

      Would I trade Matthews for Laine? Not a chance and no GM would either.

      • Dan to say no gm would either is short sighted. I would say Laine was the right choice for Winnipeg, I would go further and say teams with elite center would as well. The jets with Scheifele and Little where better suited to take Laine over Matthews. I would say Toronto also made the right choice, you need a solid center man to build around. If you don’t have an elite or center its hard to win the ultimate prize. IMO both teams drafted the right player for their team. If the picks were flipped Wpg 1st and Toronto 2nd, I would think both teams would still have the same player.

      • Okay, that’s true – fair comment. If you want the better positional player for you, you can justify it.

      • I gotta say I love hearing leaf fans complain that some other reporter is biased towards the team he covers 🙂 It’s almost like they don’t realize that both TSN and Sportsnet are biased towards the leafs 90 percent of the time.

      • I like Tsn, but you’d think American teams didn’t exist based on their reporting. Even last year during the playoffs you had to scroll through 7-8 stories to even see anything about an American based team. Which is extremely odd considering there were no Canadian teams in the playoffs last year.

      • Yeah, as if the NY Times or Daily whatever would promptly display the results of an Ottawa-Calgary final. LOL. To most Americans, Canada is that huge blank spot above the 49th parallel on their TV weather maps. And while Cdn news reports events from, say, Lexington, Kentucky or Baton Rouge, Louisiana, CNN was talking about Fort McMurray, Canada during the huge fires this past summer.

      • I don’t think you can compare Ny post, daily news to a sports website. I don’t think ESPN, Tsn, fox sports are even comparable to a localized paper. Ny post is going to have Yankee, mets, Knicks, jets , Giants, Rangers, islanders, Devils news. And sure in the Patriots win the Super Bowl it’s going to get mentioned…… As I started with, I do like Tsn. They will report trades etc., before ESPN. But if you’re going to cover sports, especially one where 70+ percent of the league is not in Canada then you may want to start appealing more to the American crowd……..

        I mean to see “What’s wrong in Vancouver, or Calgary ” before you see playoff scores from the night before is a little strange, don’t you think?

        ESPN coverage of hockey is not very good to put it mildly….. But I don’t think you’ll see a story about Ryan Mcdonagh and his puppy highlighted over last nights playoff score either.

        This is in no way shape or form a slight to Canada, any Canadian franchise, fans etc.

        It’s an observation from an American hockey fan…. I don’t think most American fans even go to Tsn…. Which is a shame in itself. But it seems Tsn caters to Canadian fans. Which from a marketing standpoint is just weird.

    • I said so before the draft & still feel that Laine is going to be the better player, nominally. That doesn’t mean Toronto lost. Matthews as a center is deemed to be a hard position to fill as DD addressed but finding 50 goal scorers is no easy feat either. Both are studs & no 1 loses out.

      Laine has almost as many goals this season as the next best rookie Matthew’s has points & Winnipeg has yet to ice anything close to a healthy roster this year.

      Again no winner or loser but who will be the better player? Laine nominally but again no 1 loses out with the player they got & in 5 or 6 years a few of those Dman drafted will as well as forwards will also be great players.

      • Striker, Laine has 30% more minutes played, mostly because his team has more games played and you’re referencing absolute production totals. Seriously?

      • And WPG is yet to ice a healthy roster?

        Laine has vastly superior team mates to play with than Matthews. Matthews has been playing with Zach Hyman and Connor Brown.

        Very surprised at your analysis.

      • Striker, your not accounting for who Laine is playing with; he’s on the number 1, so he’s playing with the Jets best players which at this stage are better then what Matthews has to work with. One concern I would have in regards to Laine is 14 of his 17 goals are on home ice. Don’t get me wrong i’ll take it; but would like to see more balance between home and away. Not sure if because other teams get better matchup at home or Laine like hearing the arousing sound of home fans.

      • Recently. Brown played 1 game as the RW essentially, Nylander has been the primary RW on that line. Hayman has been the defensive specialist for Matthews & has played the role great.

        Matthews leads Toronto in TOI/GP at forward & PP TOI/GP for all players, Laine sits 3rd; would be 4th if Little hadn’t gone down in game 1, in TOI/GP for forwards & 4th in PP TOI/GP in Winnipeg & that’s with a ton of injuries in Winnipeg.

        Yes Winnipeg has played 5 more games than Toronto & we should get some balance there agreed. By TOI/GP Laine is getting just over a min more per game. I think that is due to all the injuries & now that Winnipeg is getting numerous players back, Stafford, Little, Perreault & soon Armia & Matthias his TOI/GP will start to drop some what.

        Again be happy, Matthews is a stud & you didn’t lose out. I just would have taken Laine 1st but not if I was Toronto necessarily which I’m not. I haven’t even liked Toronto ever being a Bruins fan but certainly enjoy watching them play now & what Shanahan & all have done & are doing. Weird times when I can say I like what Toronto is doing.

        Matthews was the better pick for them agreed but I still think Laine will be nominally better statiscly, by points essentually. True value to the team is far harder to gauge & far more subjective. Toronto needed a C of Matthews abilities more than they need Laine. In Nylander & Marner it didn’t make sense to add another offensive winger. No 1 loses with either player & both are being very well served by their selections.

    • I think that Laine could be the highest scoring but pretty tough to judge a scoring winger better than a 2 way centre kinda similar to Kessel or Toews in 2006 not sure there is any real debate there high scoring winger great shot lots of goals vs dependable top line C. That being said look at the centres the Jets already had.

      • I think you also have to take into consideration the fact that laine may be playing with better linemates on the first line, he is also drawing the other teams top dmen and checking line, where as Matthews is playing against easier comp, playing on the third line. Again I thinks its pretty early to draw any conclusions on who is better before either player has played 1 whole season. A side note to another comment about not trading Matthews for Laine, I could think of a few teams that have amazing centre depth but lack any scoring on the wing and would probably make that deal

      • I agree, no downside to either selection & both Toronto & Winnipeg got exactly what they needed. I often don’t understand why we feel it necessary to compare or try to pigeon hole players. Caper asked essentially who do you think will be better. What does that mean? I assumed he meant statisticly in points?

        We’re not comparing apples to apples but apples to oranges as they don’t play the same position. Again no one lost both won no one more than the fan of the NHL.

        The talent coming through the pipelines for the NHL is amazing. The volume & quality of youth now in the NHL & arriving at a team near you soon has never been better & it’s getting better rapidly & will continue to do so for several decades as the growth of hockey in the US is staggering at the grassroots level.

        Kids who would be playing football, basketball or baseball historically are choosing hockey & coming from places like Florida, California, Texas, Arizona & places kids have barely heard of hockey 10 years ago.

        Thank you Gary Bettmann. Your vision of the NHL is paying in spades for everyone.

    • Laine is the better player been saying it for 2 years now

      • Well that settles it then lol

  4. He might be right but C is a premium position. Lets see what Striker has to say in his 30 thoughts column today..


    • Lol

    • Though #1. I think this whole C argument is some what of a farce. Sure everyone wants a Toews, Kopitar, Begeron, O’Reilly, etc., almost as much as they want a Keith, Doughty, Weber, Suter etc.

      Their appears to be more teams looking for scoring wingers today than C’s. Not the top flight guys as they are a very rare commodity like solid 2 way Dman. Not enough to go around but scoring is still in decline, slow decline & the NHL is working hard to try & find ways to increase scoring.

      It appears to me far more teams are looking for scoring wingers at present than are looking for C’s. Most teams in the NHL have several C’s playing the wing. Almost every team in the NHL actually & most NHL wingers played C growing up most having started out very young as Dman. Many of todays NHL C’s played for several years as wingers in the NHL learning the game & waiting for the opportunity to move to C for their respective teams.

      I would love to see some hard data & research on such dynamics. Very time consuming to compile & acquire the hard data, facts. Anyone, Anyone, Bueller!

      • Well we could go back to 2006 Jhonson Jordan Staal Backstrome Towes all go before a highly regarded sniper in Kessel, the year after the Hawks draft the centre they take Kane…tough to argue they didn’t see a need for a scoring winger but took the centre first. Ducks in 2003 Getzlaf 19 Perry at 28 I think if you go thru the Draft you can see lots of examples of generally the centre being the first to go if available at the spot. Least that’s the way it appears.

  5. Thread topic yesterday… what is the actual value of MAF? Between now and the deadline. He is playing poorly for him and it appears 1a, 1b doesn’t let him get into a flow… but it hurts his value. He is the ultimate room guy and it will hurt the team to trade him in the locker room but not on the ice right now. Only a few teams could take him and his cap unless decent salary comes back. Pens have to move him or convince him to waive NMC. Hurts negotiations. Pens should get a vet backup so Jarry can keep up his development. Miller with salary held, or taking Niemi back from dallas, or Johnson from Cal… Personally I don’t see him attracting a huge return… merely a solid one in a “hockey” trade.

    • I said it at the time and will say it again, all parties involved will regret the deal that fell through sending MAF to Calgary.

      Elliot has always been a mediocre goalie, he was just hidden in Hitchcock’s system.

      The Pens created unneeded drama and risked stunting the development of Murray, who deserves to be the legit #1 and play 65 games a year. Worst case, they risk having to buy out Fleury to keep Murray from going to Vegas.

      The #35 pick for MAF would have been a fine return.

      • except all I read is GMJR insisted on the 6th overall (for what its worth cause most of that came from rumor sites… no offense Lyle)… and MAF didn’t have that value after his concussion and Pens perceived need to move him. A second round pick would be a good return… abd the idea of getting a solid vet back up, like a miller at half cost for example, with the 2nd rounder is good for both teams.

  6. I see little change coming in Colorado. Nor do I see Colorado trading Duchene or Landeskog anytime soon. What’s gained there? Duchene & Landeskog are studs & not part of the problem. They are in year 2/3 of Sakic’s reign as GM & EX. VP of Hockey Opps & he has shown he is going to build thru the draft.

    Varly is untradable unless Sakic were to eat 1.5 to 2 mil per over the remainder of his contract. Not happening. If he doesn’t bounce back next season he will be bought out with 1 year remaining on his contract at that time.

    I appreciate Frei is frustrated but Colorado just isn’t a very good team. After the core the cupboard is pretty bare at the NHL level especially on D. You can’t compete with a team made of up borderline NHL players on your 3rd & 4th lines & 4, 5 & 6 D spots.

    Help is coming but it’s still at least a year away probably 2 & even then that may only make Colorado a playoff pretender. Sakic is building through the draft & his selections made since taking over as GM are pretty solid.

    As Ex VP hockey opps with 1st, 2nd & 3rd round picks in 2013, hired that May, selected Mackinnon; 1st overall, Bigras; 32nd, & Martin; 63rd. After Sherman stepped aside in 2014, Bleakly; 23rd, swing & a miss, no 2nd; Berra trade, & Wood. 2015, Rantanen; 19th, Greer; 39th, Meloche; 40th, & Beaudin; 71st. 2016; Jost; 10th, Morrison; 40th & Anderson; 71st.

    He added Compher, Zadarov, Grigorenko & the 31st in 2015; later flipped to SJ to drop to 39th in that draft & getting back their 2nd in 2016 as well, in trade moving O’Reilly in what can only be described as a bad marriage for some reason. I love O’Reilly’s game but he didn’t fit Colorado’s salary structure.

    I like what Sakic is building, Colorado just needs 2, possibly 3 years for the rebuild to be completed. The worst thing that happened along the way is Colorado played way over their heads 1 season under Roy giving false hope & making people like Frei think this team is way better than it is. Similar to Calgary’s fortunes.

    • You might be right that Colorado may get have a few more years to rebuild but I disagree that they won’t make moves, i mean they should. Any good team developing in the NHL usually starts with the back-end and looking at Colorado it will be an aging group of forwards with very little on the back-end except Johnson and Barrie. If you ask me this is a situation resembling Edmonton where you have to trade one of your forwards for a good young top 2 D(preferably). It will be interesting to see who gets moved out but if you want to continue growing this team as a team and not adress the problem in 3 years and hope the shit you throw to the wall sticks you have to pull a trade this summer. Luckily for them they have pieces to make it work.

  7. “Dreger said Hanzal’s name is only attached to the Canadiens because pundits like himself think he’d be a good fit in Montreal.” talk about lazy lazy reporting. As a reporter I don’t need his thoughts if the have no merit; I mean as a credited member of the media, he has privileges and access to people that can tell him if he put the work in it. But these days it seems the castrated media is more worried about losing access than scooping a story so they write fluff pieces that speculate like fans do…are these guys reporters or fans?

    • Indeed, Ron – it’s almost worthless now. We get more valuing talking among ourselves here than we do from them.

  8. Peter Holland to Montreal? As for the Matthews /Laine debate, this is a controversy in search of a rationale….vastly different skill sets, and the teams are not comparable..switch teams and Matthews impresses while Laine seems one-dimensional…

    • That’s right, Jon – this is almost entirely the media baiting the respective fan bases into a pointless debate. It’s low-end, garbage reporting.

      Nobody in TOR wants Laine after the Kessel lesson about tryin gto build around a winger and in WPG, as Caper pointed out, they didn’t need a Matthews as much as a Laine. All good.

      Holland to Montreal – hope so. We’ll take a conditional 5th back.

    • Jon McGill by watching the 2 of them very early in the season I’d say laine has been more responsible in his own end than Matthews has. Still very early

  9. *Your.

    Holland reportedly traded for a conditional pick. Weren’t you claiming he would be waved?

    More crow to be eaten.

    • To Arizona for a conditional pick, haven’t heard what the conditions are. Apparently no salary retained. My guess Arizona makes another deal soon

      • Like Hanzel to MTL.

    • And no dan I said he wouldn’t go to Mtl considering he can’t make the lineup of a 28th place team! Oh gee the yotes are below the leafs lol

      • You mean he can`t make Boston`s line up

      • No they were talking about holland going to Mtl but no he wouldn’t make bostons roster either! Lol

      • By all of 4 points (along with Colorado). For all the perceived – and often stated in here – differences in talent between those teams that 4 points isn’t much when you consider they are at the quarter pole, which may account for he article yesterday in which Lamoriello is voicing his “impatience” with the re-build.

  10. Hanzal to MTL is not happening. MTL already has a 6-foot-6 centre by the name of Mike McCarron. I believe he could have a high ceiling of 2nd line centre. I believe him to be our best option.