January 9, 2018 | 11:58pm ET
WILL THE CANADIENS MOVE PLEKANEC?
Tomas Plekanec, centre
The Montreal Canadiens sit 26th in the NHL and third-last in the Eastern Conference, and unless, by some miracle, they turn their season around and go on a massive winning streak, this team appears destined to miss out on post-season action this season.
As GM Marc Bergevin told the media this past week, “a lot of things have to change” in order for the Canadiens to make the playoffs. And as the days move forward, their chances become slimmer and slimmer.
There has been plenty of talk over the future of captain Max Pacioretty, but a trade is not imminent and Montreal’s desire to move him is not very high, one well-placed source close to the organization told TFP recently.
While certainly still possible, moving Pacioretty seems unlikely – this season, anyway. The team does, however, have other assets it can look to move.
Forwards Andrew Shaw and Michael McCarron have been on the trade block for most of the season, with the Habs willing to move both of them if the right deal presented itself.
“In a perfect world, would I love to add a piece to help them? Of course,” Bergevin said on Saturday, as quoted by the Canadiens’ website. “But to sacrifice the future and to take major risks with the organizations’ long-term [plan], I’m not ready to do that.”
“We have some young players who are coming up and who are improving, despite our first half of the season. I see many parts of [Artturi] Lehkonen’s game which are helping the team. Charles Hudon has had some highs and lows, but he’s been showing some good things, and he’s still young. [Nikita] Scherbak, since he’s been back from his injury, I think he's headed in the right direction.
“We have a lot of young players coming up who can make the difference for the organization. But with the parity in the League, it’s hard for me to make promises.”
One player the Canadiens are debating moving is veteran centre Tomas Plekanec, who is in the final year of his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Plekanec, 35, does not own any no-trade protection and can be moved without any consent, but he is also 37 games away from 1,000 career regular-season games in the NHL and in a Canadiens uniform and the team may look to celebrate that accomplishment instead of trading him for a draft pick before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
After not re-signing defenceman Andrei Markov 10 games away from his 1,000 career regular-season feat, the Habs may opt to hold on to Plekanec, who comes with a $6 million cap hit, which won’t be looked on too favourably by most contending teams.
In 42 games with the Habs so far this season, Plekanec has registered four goals and 12 assists for 16 points.