It didn’t take long for Montreal Canadiens’ former VP of Hockey Operations and General Manager Marc Bergevin to find work and aside for a few pundits around the Habs, it comes at no surprise. Having been nominated three times in nine years for GM of the year, and having the best in every big trade he’s completed but one, Bergevin is known around the NHL as an excellent hockey man. While he chose the LA Kings, rest assured that there were plenty of teams interested.
This is not a rumour per se, but it’s something that’s been flying around the Montreal media for a couple of days, or since the announcement of Bergevin joining the Kings. We know that the former GM was close to his players, particularly those who formed his core leadership group. Carey Price, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher (amongst others), were very fond of Bergevin and the feeling was mutual. He treated them well.
The arrival of new management in Montreal is not without creating a lot of instability on the team. The future of many of those players is up in the air. Which direction will Jeff Gorton want to take this team? Which players will he want to keep around and which ones will be sacrificed in order to free up some much needed cap space?
Gallagher reunited with Danault?
Tony Marinaro of TSN 690 radio had an interesting take, one involving Brendan Gallagher. He pointed out the fact that Dustin Brown is now 37 years old and he’s in the final year of a contract with a $5.875 million. Brown has five goals in 33 games this season and he could be on the verge of retirement. Also, the Kings are 24th in the NHL on offense, scoring on average 2.72 goals per game.
Considering his relationship with Bergevin, could Gallagher, who has scored or was on pace for 30+ goals in each of the past four years, be a player of interest for the Kings? His $6.5 million contract is not far off Brown’s, for a better production. And we know the chemistry that he has with Phillip Danault…
Other potential interest
As we’ve mentioned above, there are other players who were very close to Bergevin. Guys who signed their long-term deals with him as the GM. Edmonton, Colorado and even Seattle have been named as potential destinations for Carey Price, locations where he might accept to lift his no-movement clause for, if the Canadiens wanted to trade him.
But that was before Bergevin signed with LA. The sunshine, the west coast, closer to home… In goal, the Kings have Jonathan Quick (2.40 GAA, .921 Sv%) who has one year left after this one at a cap hit of $5.8 million. They have signed 27 year-old Cal Petersen (2.70 GAA, .904 Sv%) to a $5 million cap hit until 2024-25. Neither one has trade protection.
Jeff Petry, Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia were also players that Bergevin really liked. And ironically, Bergevin signed Tyler Toffoli with the Canadiens as a UFA to a very affordable contract. He played eight years in Los Angeles before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks at trade deadline a couple of years ago.
At the time of writing this, the Kings are hanging onto third place in the Pacific Division, in a battle for a playoffs’ spot. They also have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL. They are particularly deep at the center and defense position, two of the Canadiens’ biggest immediate needs. The Kings still have their first round pick for the upcoming draft and I see three very interesting prospects that the Habs might have interest for.
Sean Durzi, RD (23) 6’0″ 188 lbs, former 2nd rd pick by TOR
Owns plenty of offensive and puck-moving upside, since he is most adept whenever he has the puck on his blade. Can be a factor on the power play, as well.
Gabriel Vilardi, C (22) 6’3” 215lbs, 2017 11th overall
Is a pure playmaker who excels with the puck on his stick. Is creative and an excellent passer, but he can also score goals due to great hands. Owns a solid frame.
Rasmus Kupari, C (21) 6’2” 200lbs, 2018 20th overall
Has a tremendous amount of offensive ability. Is a very good dangler and creative playmaker. Also has very good hands and the capability of putting up good offensive numbers at all levels.
As you can see, the Kings are a very good fit for the Canadiens, depending on the direction Gorton and his new GM decide to take. In the meantime, the clock is ticking as we wait to find out who that new GM will be.
Headshots And Rule Book Application – by Marc-André Breault