It’s almost time.
Yes, it’s the day that every hockey fan circles on their calendar: NHL trade deadline day.
This year, the deadline falls on February 28.
The Canadiens are in a great spot in the standings this year, sitting well ahead of the Ottawa Senators for first in the Atlantic Division. But thanks to a tough 2015-16 season that saw Carey Price miss almost the entire year, the club was able to round-up many trade assets to use this year, including five second-round draft picks.
That means the Habs have trade ammunition to potentially snag a player that could put them over the hump.
So which players should Montreal make a run at? Let’s dive in…
Matt Duchene, C (Colorado Avalanche)
Matt Duchene may be the best option for the Canadiens in the long run, but he’s by far the most expensive. With a $6 million cap hit up until the end of next season, the Avs don’t need to trade him and don’t need to be in a rush to move their franchise’s biggest star.
What will it cost to bring in the 26-year-old, fresh off of a World Cup victory with Team Canada? Trailing just Nathan MacKinnon for the Avalanche scoring lead, Duchene is still Colorado’s number one centre and still has the potential to finish with 30 goals once again.
But with his tremendous trade value, and the Avalanche at the bottom of the barrel, teams will definitely be looking to acquire him in hopes of keeping him long term. For Montreal, that may mean sending out Tomas Plekanec, Mikhail Sergachev, and some draft picks, but could you imagine a Habs top line with Duchene, Max Pacioretty and Alex Radulov?
Jarome Iginla, RW (Colorado Avalanche)
The Avs need to rebuild and Iginla wants a chance at a Cup. He has been rumored to be heading to Montreal for many years, but with the Habs in playoff contention and the Avs far out, this seems like a good fit.
“I would like to, at the deadline, go somewhere,” Iginla told Josh Cooper of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog. “I would like to be in the playoffs. I would hope that there is some opportunity to go and play in the playoffs. Those are the best games, the most fun for sure, and you have a chance to win. So no, I haven’t given up on that chance to win.”
The two-time Rocket Richard and one-time Art Ross Trophy winner is a sure-bet to be a Hall of Famer despite never winning a cup, with the longtime Calgary Flames captain sitting 34th all-time in points with 1,285. A scoring winger, Iginla scored 30 goals in twelve full consecutive seasons and has fallen just short on numerous occasions.
The Habs have many second rounders they can offer up as Colorado looks to continue their rebuild. With just six goals in 47 games this year on a very weak Avalanche squad, Iginla surely isn’t ripping up the league this year.
At the age of 39, Iginla will be a relatively cheap option (not his contract, his trade value) for Montreal to consider.
Jaromir Jagr, RW (Florida Panthers)
When Jagr was rumoured to the Habs about five years ago, it was with the assumption that he would try to help propel Montreal to a Cup, which would serve as his last chance. Now, nearly 45-years-old, the belief is that he has a few more years still to go.
Not to get greedy, but the two-time Cup champion probably wants to make it a three-piece before he finally calls it quits at the age of 78.
Recently named one of the NHL’s top 100 players to ever play the game, it’s hard to gauge Jagr’s trade value. He’s old, but at this point, how can anyone say his career is nearly over? He just keeps on producing. He has 29 points (9-20-29) in 51 games this year with the Panthers.
Jagr would be an excellent second-line option on the wing instead of David Desharnais, but he does have some international experience with Plekanec thanks to various tournaments with the Czech Republic. Florida would probably look for some young talent to continue their transition to the top of the NHL charts, but could also consider taking in someone like Zach Fucale to help bolster their goaltending depth.
Who would you like the Canadiens to go after? Let us know in the comments below!