Latest Canadiens & Canucks Rumors – November 20, 2017
Check out the latest trade speculation regarding the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks in your NHL rumor mill.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan reports the ongoing mystery surrounding the supposedly “minor” lower-body injury suffered by Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is giving rise to rumors the club could look at trading him before his new eight-year, $84-million contract kicks in next summer.
Cowan notes the Canadiens are a “badly broken hockey team” following embarrassing back-to-back losses against Arizona and Toronto. Entering this week with an 8-11-2 record, they’re “ranked 30th in the NHL in offence, 29th in defence, 27th on the power play, 28th in penalty killing and 21st in faceoffs.”
Regarding a possible trade partner for Price, Cowan notes the Edmonton Oilers are in worse shape than the Habs. The Oilers have talented centers such as Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and need help in goal, as starter Cam Talbot is struggling this season.
Cowan’s colleague Jack Todd believes the Canadiens’ 6-0 loss on Saturday to the Maple Leafs likely spells the end of their playoff hopes this season and could also mean the end of Marc Bergevin’s tenure as general manager. If so, Todd recommends wooing Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Julien BriseBois as Bergevin’s successor.
NBC SPORTS: Joey Alfieri noted Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos recent speculation suggesting the Canadiens could be willing to consider trading some veterans, such as perhaps captain Max Pacioretty, for prospects and draft picks. Alfieri notes the Habs have a decent core in Pacioretty, Price, Shea Weber and Jonathan Drouin but they’re lacking scoring punch and depth at center and the blueline. Because they carry some key pieces, Alfieri feels rebuilding from scratch might not be necessary, but the roster needs a lot of work.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Be it a complete tear down or a retooling, the Canadiens cannot avoid addressing their glaring weaknesses. Before doing so, however, they must first address their front office talent. Until last summer, Bergevin wasn’t doing too badly, but he bungled efforts to re-sign Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov and failed to bring in suitable replacements. Given the Habs’ poor draft record over the last decade, it’s also time to overhaul the scouting department.
Regarding the Habs’ core, if they’re going to shop any veterans, Pacioretty seems the likely trade option. He’s eligible for UFA status in 2019 and I can see the two sides parting company by then, especially if there’s new management in place. Pacioretty may be struggling this season but there will be clubs that could be willing to part with a quality asset or two to get him.
As for Price, I don’t buy into the conspiracy theories that the Habs are holding him off the ice in order to find a suitable trade partner. If he’s healthy and back to form, it makes more sense to have him playing to show potential suitors that he’s not hampered by injury.
The Oilers certainly need help between the pipes but I don’t see them chasing Price. And if they do, I don’t believe they’ll part with Draisaitl, and I doubt the Habs would agree to a deal for Price with Nugent-Hopkins as the centerpiece.
I’m not saying Price can’t be traded, but his full no-movement clause and that expensive new contract makes him hard to move. Toss in his current injury and it becomes almost impossible right now.
Whatever’s going on with Price, be it a lower-body injury or something else, he and the Habs have to come clean. Otherwise, the conjecture will only grow, not just about his injury status but also his future with the club.
THE ATHLETIC: Mike Halford examines several trade scenarios bandied about of late for the Vancouver Canucks. Defenseman Erik Gudbranson’s status as an unrestricted free agent at season’s end could make him a trade candidate, especially given speculation his asking price could be between $5-$6 million annually. Halford speculates Gudbranson could be moved as a playoff rental to a club looking at a deep playoff run, getting draft picks in return.
Blueliner Chris Tanev is signed through 2020 and he’s been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the rumor mill. Halford suggests the Canucks could look at striking while the iron is hot, though moving Tanev would adversely affect their defense corps. They could also consider moving a goalie but Halford believes they don’t know yet what they’ve got with their current tandem of Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson. That should dampen any trade talk.
More likely trade options could be forwards Thomas Vanek and Alex Burmistrov, with Vanek as the more intriguing candidate. Though the bar’s been set low for the 33-year-old veteran winger this season, he’s on pace for 22 goals and 47 points. If they hit the trade block, Halford believes it likely they could be moved by the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot could also depend upon where the Canucks are in the standings by next February. The Canucks enter this week only one point out of third in the Pacific Division and sit just outside the wild-card berths. If they’re still playoff contenders come February, they could become buyers instead of sellers. If they do sell, I believe Vanek and Gudbranson are the likely trade options.