February 23, 2018 | 11:45pm ET
PLEKANEC TRADE TALKS PICKING UP
Tomas Plekanec, centre
Interest in Montreal Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec picked up on Friday after news that the Ottawa Senators traded Derick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Plekanec, 35, is in the final-year of his contract, which comes with a $6 million salary cap hit, and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Several teams are believed to have interest in Plekanec, including the San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets, and trade talks could continue to pick up steam over the weekend.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were also interest in Plekanec, but their acquisition of Brassard takes them out of the mix.
It has been widely reported that the Canadiens will need to retain a large portion of Plekanec’s salary in order to help facilitate a trade, and the Habs are believed to be willing to do so, if the right offer presented itself.
In addition to Plekanec, the Canadiens are also believed to have had talks about forwards Andrew Shaw and Paul Byron, defencemen David Schlemko and Jordie Benn, and goaltender Antti Niemi, while discussions involving captain Max Pacioretty and winger Alex Galchenyuk remain ongoing, though a trade involving either one of them seems unlikely, as of Friday evening.
Byron, who has one-year left on his contract after this season, and Schlemko, who has two-years remaining, could be the more likely of the remaining Habs players, outside of Plekanec, to be moved by Monday’s 3pm ET trade deadline, if Bergevin can strike a deal.
Plekanec, Shaw and Schlemko rank among the players on TFP’s Top 30 Available Players List.