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Habs Gambling at Center

By JD Lagrange – “Getting centers is not easy” was one of Canadiens’ former GM Marc Bergevin’s quotes that fans have made fun of over the years. And because new GM Kent Hughes acquired two this off-season, those fans are having a heyday. Yet, Hughes’ trades prove what Bergevin was saying as the two centers that he acquired come with huge question marks and come at a price.

First, they paid a high price by trading the 13th pick overall (previously acquired from the Islanders in the Romanov deal) and a third round pick (#66 – Gavin Hayes) to the Chicago Blackhawks to get 21 year-old Kirby Dach. It would be easy to say that it’s a deal considering that Dach is a former third overall pick, but have a look at this comparison:

DACHKOTKANIEMI
152GP171
19G22
40A40
59PTS62
-22+/--11
First 3 years of their respective career

Now forget the whole offer-sheet fiasco as it was revenge against the Habs and ask yourself this: how would fans have reacted if the Canadiens had traded the 13th overall and an early third round pick to acquire Kotkaniemi?

The fact here is that for a few reasons (including injuries), Dach has yet to develop into the player the Blackhawks and many scouts saw in him. While it is possible, it is unknown if he will ever develop into that player. So at the time of the trade (no revisionary or hindsight should be considered), it’s a risk… and a steep price for a risk.

Then, they acquired Sean Monahan and his $6.375 million contract (one year remaining) from the Calgary Flames for future considerations. While “future considerations” is cheap, his cap hit is not. Granted, it’s for one season but it’s still a big, big cap hit for a player who is coming back from not one, but two hip surgeries. Habs’ fans should look at Paul Byron and his hip surgery as a reference…

While the Monahan gamble isn’t a big one, the same cannot be said about the trade for Dach. So when Bergevin was saying that acquiring centers (and he referred to top-end centers, by the way) isn’t easy, he was absolutely right and Hughes knows it. He chose to be bold and gambled on these two guys. It’s a choice that’s he’s made and we all hope that both of them pay off.

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