Latest Canadiens and Senators Speculation – January 2, 2018
Latest speculation on Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty plus an update on the latest Senators chatter in your NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE CANADIENS TRADE PACIORETTY?
SPORTSNET/THE ATHLETIC: Eric Engels and Marc Antoine Godin make the case that moving Max Pacioretty before the Feb. 26 trade deadline would benefit the winger and the Montreal Canadiens. Despite Pacioretty’s recent scoring slump, both cite his five previous 30-goal campaigns, his affordable $4.5-million annual average value through 2018-19 and his age (29) as factors that make him attractive to other clubs. They feel he’s the Canadiens’ best trade chip, one that could fetch assets that address either their glaring need for a scoring center or to bolster their depth on defense.
Engels also points out the lack of depth on this year’s Habs explains why Pacioretty’s scoring has declined this season. Given the holes in the Canadiens’ roster, Godin wonders if the Canadiens are willing to invest around $7.5 million annually to re-sign Pacioretty, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July 2019. He feels teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes are among those who need a infusion of offense.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With UFA eligibility on the horizon and the Canadiens floundering in the standings, I think this is Pacioretty’s last season in Montreal. If there’s a quality return to be had for the Habs captain before the trade deadline, general manager Marc Bergevin will pursue it. The problem, however, is he’s not dealing from a position of strength here. Bergevin can afford to wait until the offseason to find a suitable deal. I believe that’s what he’ll end up doing.
LATEST ON THE SENATORS
OTTAWA SUN: If the Ottawa Senators make changes in this new year, Bruce Garrioch reports they’ll be on the roster and not behind the bench. Given the frequent coaching changes in the past decade (six in the last 10 years), Garrioch said it doesn’t feel as though replacing Guy Boucher will be part of the attempt to improve the club.
While the Senators don’t want to engage in a full tear-down, Garrioch said general manager Pierre Dorion could be ready to “strike at the core of the team” to send a message that no one is safe. Except for Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone, Garrioch claims pretty much every player is available.
He reports there’s “significant interest” in forwards Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. While there’s been inquiries about center Derick Brassard, he’s not going anywhere. There also hasn’t been many calls about defenseman Cody Ceci. He also suggests veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya could be moved and there could be interest in forwards Ryan Dzingel and Alex Burrows.
THE ATHLETIC: Graeme Nichols believes the Senators shouldn’t trade Mike Hoffman. He points out he’s their best natural scorer, with only 17 NHL players having scored more goals since the 57 he’s tallied since the start of 2014-15. Nichols also believes the Senators are mismanaging the winger’s talent by forcing him to play third-line minutes.
Trading Hoffman now for draft picks and prospects is opposed to the way the Sens have operated in recent years, as there’s no way of guaranteeing anyone from that return will blossom into an important player. With Hoffman signed through 2019-20, Nichols feels they’re not under any pressure to move him now, though such a move would “be consistent with (team owner) Eugene Melnyk’s threat to move players and save cash.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Senators make a significant move before the Feb. 26 trade deadline, the consensus among the punditry is they want younger NHL-ready talent in return. They don’t want to engage in a full-blown roster rebuild. If they can’t get that type of return for Hoffman, they probably won’t move him. Melnyk’s recent threat to move out players to cut costs could be a factor here, but I think he’d approve of younger and more affordable NHL talent coming back for Hoffman.
I don’t doubt there’s a market for Brassard, so it’s interesting that Garrioch said he’s not moving. The Sens probably don’t want to risk weakening their depth at center. For some time it’s been assumed Ceci could be an enticing asset but his struggles this season appear to be weakening his trade value.
As for Oduya and Burrows, it wouldn’t be surprising if both are shopped to playoff contenders near the deadline. The Sens won’t be much back in return for either aging veteran.