Latest on the Canadiens, Sharks, Canucks & Sabres – May 31, 2014.

Analysis of possible offseason moves by the Canadiens, speculation the Sharks could trade Joe Thornton, the Canucks could add a veteran goalie and Sabres winger Chris Stewart acknowledges he could be traded again. 

Has Andrei Markov played his final game for the Canadiens?

Has Andrei Markov played his final game for the Canadiens?

TSN.CA/SPORTSNET.CA/CBC.CA/THE GLOBE & MAIL/MONTREAL GAZETTE: all weigh in on possible offseason moves by the Montreal Canadiens in the wake of their surprising run to the Eastern Conference Final. All believe P.K. Subban will be re-signed to a lengthy, expensive new contract, while questioning if long-time Habs blueliner Andrei Markov will be re-signed. RFAs Lars Eller and Dale Weise will also be re-signed, though it remains to be seen what kind of deals they get. It’s also uncertain if captain and pending free agent Brian Gionta will be re-signed. None believe Thomas Vanek will return.

CBC’s Tim Wharnsby sees the Habs re-signing Gionta and defenseman Mike Weaver for their character. The Globe & Mail’s Sean Gordon speculates they might consider shopping second-line center Tomas Plekanec (if he agrees to waive his limited no-trade clause) and moving Eller or promising Alex Galchenyuk into that role. The Gazette’s Pat Hickey believes Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon won’t be back. Given Dustin Tokarski’s solid playoff performance, Hickey wonders what the future holds for Peter Budaj, who has one season left on his contract. All agree the Canadiens’ young core – Carey Price, Subban, Eller, Galchenyuk, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher – points to a bright future for the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I also agree the Habs have a good young core to build around. Subban will likely get an eight-year deal worth between $8 – $9 million per season. His critics will argue he’s not worth it, but that’s what he’s going to get. Fortunately, the Canadiens have a projected $26 million in cap space (assuming the cap hits $71 million) so GM Marc Bergevin has plenty of space to re-sign Subban and their other key players, as well as add some much-need size and speed at defense and up front. Speed is the key factor here. Bergevin invested in George Parros and Douglas Murray (thankfully for only one season each) and they were busts this season. It’s pointless to invest in big, strong players if they can’t keep up with the pace of the game. 

Shopping Plekanec is an intriguing idea and it could be worthwhile to quietly gauge his trade value. Given Rene Bourque’s impressive playoff performance, it wouldn’t surprise me if Bergevin also tries shopping him. Vanek won’t be back, and it could be risky to invest beyond two years for the ageing Markov, who really declined over the course of the playoffs. If a suitable deal can’t be reached, Bergevin could seek a short-term replacement via trade or free agency. I also believe Bergevin should try to re-sign Gionta and Weaver to two-year deals. Weaver could be the easiest of the pair to retain. Tokarski’s performance could make Budaj a trade candidate. Overall, the Canadiens have a bright future and enter this summer in good shape cap-wise. Its up to Bergevin to invest that space wisely. 

THE SCORE: Katie Flynn reports TSN analyst Bob McKenzie believes the San Jose Sharks will try to trade Joe Thornton rather than strip him of the captaincy. McKenzie acknowledged trading Thornton won’t be easy, given the cap hit of taking on his new three-year, $6.75 million per season contract. Flynn also noted Thornton’s no-movement clause muddies the trade waters. McKenzie also mentioned Patrick Marleau as another who could be dealt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Note that McKenzie isn’t saying Thornton or Marleau “will” be traded, merely speculating they could be. Though both would attract interest in the trade market, moving either will be difficult, given their respective contracts, ages and no-movement clauses. McKenzie also noted return will be an issue. The Sharks won’t get equal value back for either guy, but if they’re looking toward turning over to a younger core, it might be worthwhile to seek young players or prospects. One of my readers is a Sharks season-ticket holder, and she notes Thornton and Marleau are pictured in the club’s season ticket holder renewal booklet. Goalie Antti Niemi was not. Make of that what you will. 

SPORTSNET.CA: Luke Fox reports Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning is willing to entertain adding a goaltender via free agency. ““We’re going to look at every avenue we have to make our team competitive. Vancouver is a big-market city, we’ve got a passionate fan base, [and] our owners want to win”, Benning told a Sportsnet radio show. The current tandem consists of Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, whose combined stats aren’t as impressive as the former tandem of Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider, but they are more affordable. Fox suggests that could be a factor as Benning tries to add depth at forward. Ryan Miller, Jonas Hiller, Ilya Bryzgalov and Tim Thomas are among this summer’s notable free agent goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those UFA goalies, Miller and Thomas probably prefer signing with American-based teams. Hiller could be a good addition but he’s likely seeking a long-term contract. Given this summer’s limited goalie market, Benning might be able to get Hiller for a shorter term at an affordable deal if there’s no market for the Swiss goalie. Bryzgalov’s inconsistency and flakey personality won’t make him a good fit in Vancouver. 

NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford cites a report from the Buffalo Sabres website in which Sabres winger Chris Stewart acknowledged the possibility he could be traded this summer. Stewart was acquired from St. Louis just before the March trade deadline as part of the Ryan Miller trade.


  1. To All:
    Is Markstrom still considered a “hot” prospect or has that shipped sailed and he is just trying to hang in there as a backup so he can stay in NHL ? Also cannot see Wilson rebuilding with youth, does not appear to be his style looking at the past. Can I see him trading Thornton to get better NOW, yes I can but do not see him trading him for the “OLD” GM line of I want a top 6 forward, a great prospect, and a high draft pick. That doesn’t work much any more. Another problem is that Spezza seems to be ( I said seems to be) the most wanted top line center that is shopped around and I doubt that anyone deals for Thornton or Kessler until they see what Spezza cost as far as trade value.

  2. Personally, I would be reluctant to deal away Budaj. Behind a solid number one netminder, he is worth his weight in gold. A quality back-up is hard to come by in this day and age, to the point where the position is now, more often than not, filled by an unproven minor league promotion or a past-his-prime veteran in the twilight of his career. The two-goalie system, as witnessed in TO this year, is a thing of the past. Budaj is ideally suited as back-up. Capable of coming in and turning in a quality performance after a lengthy stretch watching from the end of the bench, and also able to carry the mail himself for short stretches in the event of an injury. He would have trade value, despite a glut of UFA’s in the goalie market, but Tokarski, I don’t believe, would benefit from extended stays on the Habs’ bench as Carey Price’s understudy.

    • Wellington said. I wonder if Torkarski is the one who actually gets dealt. Not this year but next. He needs to play and when he deserves his shot as starter, Price will not be ready to hand over the reins. The last thing Mtl needs is another goalie controversies.

      • Well not Wellington .

    • I agree, I don’t see it being a benefit for Tokarski to sit behind Price and play maybe 10-15 games in a season with the bigs as opposed to starting 60 in the AHL. Another season down in the AHL or a trade to a place where if he was in the pro’s there is a chance to challenge (Canucks, Oilers, Islanders, Flames, Jets, Wings, Sharks, Pens for example.)

      • I agree aswell accept with the part about another year in the AHL. If you return him to the farm Im not sure his stock is as high as it currently is. I think you possibly move Budaj (for a pick) and start Tokarski behind Price give him some games to showcase him early in the year then possibly move him. Can always pick up a back up and start the back up on the farm. Or package Tokarski now with another piece or pieces to get some size that like Lyle pointed out can actually play. Sending him back to the minors now I think is probably a bad idea, the kid can play and is ready.

      • Wings? Did you forget they have Howard? 1 playoffs does not make a goalie.

        IF the Wings get another goalie, it will be for an established one if they question Howard, such as Broduer, Hiller, or Miller. Of those 3, Brodeur is the best.

        • Lol….how long Howard been there? Id say its been more than one playoff run that has shown Howard is average.

    • Tokarski’s performance in the playoffs would make a better option for backup than Budai.

      BUT if he spends a lot of time on the bench that may hurt his development more than playing big minutes in the AHL..

  3. The spezza theory makes sense, but IMO I think that there are going to be at least 4 good veteran centerman in play( spezza Thornton Richards Kessler) to be moved. Even if the rangers somehow shock everyone and win the cup, it’s makes no fiscal sense whatsoever to keep Richards contract on the books. Spezza will not be moved to another team in the division( unless leafs put kadri in deal-remember Burke and Murray on draft floor) so I can see at least one of those guys coming to the Atlantic. Spezza may not be the first to go but definitely won’t be the last.
    To Vancouver
    28th overall
    Greg patyrn( spelling?)
    Rights to markov
    To Montreal
    To San Jose
    8th overall
    To leafs
    18th overall
    Enjoy the day. Great one for BBQ and beer

    • If the Leafs were close to contend for a cup the deal for Thornton would make sense. But the Leafs are far from contending and should develop their young players, especially those with (some) promise (Kadri, Gardiner, Rielly).
      Makes no sense to trade for a 34years old veteran center, even if his name is Joe Thornton. And I’m not sure Kadri and #8 for Thornton and #18 would work.
      Besides if your suggested deal between the Habs and Nucks makes sense, I doubt Kessler and Edler waive their NTCs to go to Montreal.

      • They just played in the Eastern Conference finals, Montreal is a great hockey town, great culture, great community … what basis are you saying they won’t waive to play in Montreal? Not that I think the deal will happen, just dislike these baseless claims of “doubt people would waive to play there” claims.

        • Kesler is an American & his list of 6 so-called teams were all in the US. If u take this as true its irrelevant what Montreal has done or will do regardless of their playoff run. Fantastic playoffs but the run is done. It is not a baseless claim anymore than u speculating your lousy trade.

          • Montreal doesn’t need to trade for any canucks players although it was great taking Dale Weise from u guys, hes the only one with heart and plays hard. Not that the habs are a contending team yet but they are only moving up while the Canucks are becoming more like the Maple laughs. Enjoy missing the playoffs next year lol.

        • It was reported Kesler was willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins (Lyle cited The Vancouver Province’s Jason Botchford in his THN colum). Nothing about the Habs!
          Maybe Edler would waive it. I wrote I doubt they will waive their NTC’s, so it’s my opinion.
          And don’t be upset because someone thinks that not every player wants to join your Habs.

          • So essentially Lightning… none of the other five teams should trade for him.

  4. I really don’t see the Sharks trading Marleau, Thornton or Couture – but I do see them moving Pavelski. Reason being is because for some reason MacLellen is always moving Pavs around – and too often you see him on the 3rd line. I see Pavelski being a real good fit for Montreal – perhaps Montreal trading McCarron or Bozon along with their #20 for Pavelski. Little Joe is a character guy, skilled can play just about anywhere and has 5-6 years left on his contract at a reasonable price. For San Jose, they get some youth to go along with their aging core.

    • Pavelski is moved around because he’s so versatile, not because he is undervalued.

      • I agree, Pavs can play anywhere. Playing on the 3rd wasn’t a negative assesment of his play, it was just trying to have 1-2-3 be Thorton, Couture and Pavelski, which is pretty F’n scary…on paper.

        That being said, he would be the easiest to move and get the most in return. You’re not going to get much for Thorton or Marleau that isn’t picks/prospects. If Sharks are trying to win in the near term or partial rebuild, they won’t have time to let prospects or picks develop, unless they move those for nhlready players or nhl players in a separate trade.

      • Exactly Liddy.

        Pavelski plays wherever the coach puts him. Steve pointed out that he even plays on the third line and yet he still puts up 40+ goals. That’s pretty insane. Wonder what he could do on a number one line with consistent line mates throughout the season?

    • Pavelski should not be traded, he’ll be paired up with Thornton next year, the guy who should be traded is Couture, maybe for another young player who isn’t fitting well (Evander Kane?), he is very good but not a franchise player of a championship team (toews, bergeron, kopitar, etc.)

  5. I wonder if a deal of Pleks for Kesseler would work. If Edler where part I wonder what it would take. I certainly think Pleks although older, is close to what Kessler brings. If Kessler really wants out, Pleks might be the best replacement avaliable. I think Mtl would shopp this years first in the deal. Obviously more has to be headed to Vancouver.
    And I wonder what happens to Ryan White. He is a useful player but Therien does not seem to like him.

    • Wow…Kesler….

    • Going to have to add a lot more for Pavelski. The guy just had his breakthrough season. While Kesler’s best days seem to be behind him. He’s also seems to be fighting injuries.

      • Linden’s and whatever lackeys he has are not gonna like their position with Kesler.

  6. The Habs IMO should shop Plekanec and use him to seek to bolster their defense. They have two promising centers who can fill the 2nd role slot quite well. They should also move Bourque while his stock is a bit higher and people are willing to gamble on a sizeable winger coming off a playoff high. The should also let Markov walk.

    Trying to acquire Edler via trade from the Canucks could be a good start and as a free agent target they should be looking at Matt Moulson who brings some size and possible Mason Raymond who is speedy and would fit well with their game. But I wouldn’t go to crazy on bidding for UFA’s … stick to the trade and development route as I think it will work better for the Habs.

    • Thinking if the Habs had some interest in aquiring a dman from Vancouver Bieksa could make more sense than Edler.

    • Agree that they should try to move Bourque. His stock is high at the moment, he has a relatively low cap hit of $3.3mil and is under contract for two more years. Low risk, high reward imo. Maybe a trade with the Pens? Just don’t know what the Habs would want back?
      I would sign Markov if he’s willing to accept a 1 year deal. Same with Gionta.

  7. as far as the habs go, I would keep weaver, who was thrilled to get out of florida. sadly, gionta, markov, bouillion, , brierehave reached the end of the line. I would sign vanek for a low price (not likely). and I would def explore amplek trade, although he has become a defensive specialist, a soft one at that. need someone with a mean streak

    • Why not deal for Thornton?

  8. If I were Vancouver I certainly wouldn’t even consider Plecanec. Good at penalty killing but that’s about it. If Van was stupid enough to make that trade you are right the habs would have to include something else of significance, not bums, picks, has beens or second rate prospects

  9. if the Canadians sighn pk to what is speculated on a long term deal then bergeving has lost his mind he has more points gathered by the oppent teams then his own. he is a giant liability and afraid of fighting for the puck rather than just sleeping on his belly pretending he is doing something. drew doughty actually does things to earn his money pk has only a shot and a belly too the ice

    • Gaah plus minus for 1 year? Really?…Shae Weber has been on the ice for more goals against, than goals for over the past 2 years. – 2 both years so a minus -4 over 100 games he not worth the contract? Over the past 2 years Subban is +8 . Your theory makes no sense. Subban is worth 8 mill.

      • Weber’s on a team with no offense (a team of a 2nd line and 3 3rd lines) and facing the best players in the league. Of course he’s a -4 the last two years. Outside of Weber, the other d-men in Nashville are young and make a lot of mistakes. Most defensemen (including PK) would be -20 (over 2 seasons) or worse in that position.

        • You cant say he would be minus 20 in that position thats all just made up. You have absolutely no basis for that arguement if you look at adv stats you see that their ice time is similar quality of competition is simmilar and so is the quality of players on the ice with them. PK plays as many top lines as Weber does and is on the ice almost as much…my main point tho was that because he is a minus 4 one year (plus minus is a terrible stat for the reason you pointed out) does not effect his value. The poster I was responding to said he wasnt worth the money because he was on the ice for more goals agsinst than goals for. 1 its not true if you look at more than this season and 2 some very good defence men are minus players from time to time, it doesn’t mean they are not worth the money

      • Shticky, I love when people get proven wrong by actual stats! Nice work.

  10. Just for fun here, but can you imagine having Getzlaf as your #1 Center, then dropping in Thornton as your #2! Two big bodied centers that as extremly gifted. The Ducks need another center, and a left handed one to boot. He would beef up the PP and a pure passer for Getzlaf’s one timer and perry’s net front presence. I know its a wishful thought. But it would be nice. But I really do think the Ducks will get Kesler at the draft.