Love him or hate him, or anything in between, one would have to be of bad faith to deny that former Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin wasn’t an expert at big trades. The rest is debatable but there is no doubt that during his nine plus years at the helm of the Habs, he has not lost many trades, let alone ones involving big name players.
Remember when Bergevin acquired Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers for a second and fourth round pick? Or perhaps you recall when he got Phillip Danault and a second round pick (Alexander Romanov) from the Chicago Blackhawks for pending UFAs Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann? He also traded Alex Galchenyuk to the Arizona Coyotes for Max Domi, who then had a 72-points season with the Habs. Max Pacioretty was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a second round pick, a pick which was later traded to draft Mattias Norlinder. The one that spilled a lot of ink, the trade he was most criticized about, was when he traded for Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators for fan favourite P.K. Subban. Even the most vocal at the time now recognize that Bergevin won that trade by a landslide.
The one trade that I want to talk about today, though, is then one when the former Canadiens’ GM traded a struggling Domi in his second season in Montreal, to the Columbus Blue Jackets for power forward Josh Anderson.
The power horse
Back on October 6, 2020, the Canadiens announced that they had traded Max Domi and a third round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Anderson.
The trade, as most big trades are, was a bit controversial in Montreal as the then 26-year-old Anderson had only one goal and four points in 26 games with the Blue Jackets the previous season. He hadn’t played since March after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Both Domi and Anderson were pending RFAs and two days after the trade, Bergevin signed the 6-foot 3-inches, 222 lbs winger to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract extension.
Anderson displays a rare combination of size, speed, physicality and goals’ scoring abilities while being defensively responsible. He can and will drop the gloves if or when needed as well. In two seasons since the trade (one shortened by COVID), he has scored 36 goals in 121 regular season’s games, which is the equivalent of 24 goals over an 82-games season. The power forward has also lit the lamp five times during the Canadiens’ playoffs’ run last year.
Anderson loves playing in Montreal, in a hockey market. At the end of the season, he told every reporter that he did not want to be traded after the team’s horrible season. He wants to be part of the solution and, as he stated, he did not sign in Montreal for seven years to be traded after a couple of years.
Multiple times in the two seasons, he has shown leadership qualities. When he spoke to the media after the team’s poor effort, he has always backed his words by his actions, having a good game the following night. Many of us qualify him as a Brendan Gallagher on steroids. A hard working player making his opponents aware when he’s on the ice, a player who can hurt the opponents in many different ways.
Team Canada invited him to the World Championships this year, an invitation that Anderson accepted. The brass of Hockey Canada recognized the Canadiens’ forward’s leadership qualities when they gave him the title of assistant-captain of the team. And while they may not give him the captaincy in Montreal, it’s just a matter of time before the Canadiens imitate Team Canada and put an “A” on his jersey… as “A” is for Anderson.