NOVEMBER 6, 2017 | 8:37PM ET
By Andrew Sarrazin, The Fourth Period
SARRAZIN: EXPECT A SPLASH IN MONTREAL
Marc Bergevin, Montreal Canadiens GM
MONTREAL, QC -- How is everything? How’s the family? How’s the job? I haven’t seen you in a while.
That’s mostly my fault.
When a team has a regular-season start like the Montreal Canadiens have had, there really isn’t much to write about that you, as the reader, doesn’t already know.
I could tell you that things have not done as planned and no one saw this coming. Or that Montreal won’t make a desperate move to try to save the season. That it’s too early to jump out the window, but your concern is the feeling that we all share, and is warranted. That Carey Price isn’t himself, and that can be due to several things, mainly that the defensive team in front of him has had a huge overhaul, and the rhythm of understanding his new team members patterns is a difficult task, but still doesn’t completely excuse his poor play. That if the Canadiens improved their shot accuracy and the goaltending improved their save percentage, similar to what they have done recently, there would be a few more Ws in the bank. That Marc Bergevin won’t be relieved of his duties this year.
Or, that the Canadiens are playing better than their placement in the standings shows, and should this current play stay consistent, there is nothing to be concerned about?
Have I hit everything that I could have told you that you already knew? Probably not, but I think I nailed the major storylines.
What I am here to do is discuss the $8M+ splash is coming. Maybe not today or this weekend, but rest assured it is coming.
A lot of people wonder why Bergevin hasn’t dipped into his wallet yet, to help salvage what has been a very difficult start to the season, even with four wins in their last five games. There are three reasons why I believe he hasn’t.
First off, having dollars banked doesn’t mean they’re simple to spend. If Bergevin wants to spend his dollars on top tier talent, there really isn’t any talent available to spend it on -- the Habs made it clear they weren’t interested in Matt Duchene at Colorado’s asking price.
Have you ever gone to the grocery store and try to find fresh produce, but it’s the end of the day and you can’t find anything that looks “that great.” Sure, there are a couple of editable products that could pass, depending on how hungry you are, but you prefer not to go down that road. That’s where the Canadiens are when trying to spend their dollars. If the Habs want to spend their cap space, the only way to do it is via trade.
This brings me to my second point.
Any player the Canadiens wanted to trade off to get something of value back would be a king’s ransom based on mediocre play. While the Canadiens have at least played Bergevin out of dealing from a position of complete weakness in recent games, the Habs aren’t exactly holding any cards, at the moment, and still, no GM is going to be doing any favours for Mr. Bergevin.
And lastly, GMs traditionally aren’t looking to trade this early on in the year.
While Montreal was in a tail spin, other teams were still looking at what their teams were made of, and are nowhere near the desperation the Habs found themselves in.
Bergevin could pick up the phone and call every single team, and while they would all listen to what he has to say, the majority of them still want to see how their off-season moves work out. For most of them, trading isn’t of extreme interest, let alone trading away a top tier player the Canadiens fanbase is itching for Bergevin to do. Most of us don’t even trade players in fantasy leagues until you get a better idea after a month or so, to better understand what your team needs.
So a big trade in November? For Montreal, it’s not Likely.
But now we are getting past the point where GMs are still figuring out what they have, and what they need. Scouting is increasing and phone calls are more frequent.
And Bergevin’s $8M+ cap space that he had in his wallet is slowly growing. Even with those rumours of Montreal and New York making the rounds, they may not make sense at the moment for either team.
New York is reportedly in the market for defense, and Montreal’s defensive lineup isn’t exactly overflowing with talent they can give away. Victor Mete has been a great surprise, but his addition, while timely, doesn’t scream “Montreal is deep on the blueline.” If carrying seven defensemen in a game isn’t even a reasonable consideration, then you probably can’t stand to lose one.
There is pressure on the Canadiens’ GM, but making a move right now will certainly not improve the roster in a significant way. These dollars are leverage and freedom, and if the available players are limited in the NHL, then Bergevin won’t handcuff himself to a player that will score 15 goals. He’s going to try and weather the storm.
But one thing’s for certain: these dollars will be spent.
When, you ask? Bergevin has always struck when no one saw it coming.