A quiet deadline day for the Habs?

It’s looking more and more like this Thursday, March 9, the NHL’s trade deadline, will be a lot quieter than it usually is. While many fringe teams are still deciding if they are buyers or sellers, it’s pretty clear for Bob Gainey and his staff that the Canadiens are buyers. But does Gainey want to disrupt the chemistry of his team, who have gotten at least a point in each of their last 9 games going into tonight’s dance with the Leafs? Does he have to offer what other teams will want in exchange for what the Habs need? Is it worth giving up some good prospects for an iffy playoff run?Here is an assessment of some of the most frequently mentioned names that could potentially be headed to Montreal, in order of probability. The Canadiens need size, depth and experience on defence…

  • Sean Hill: An experienced, rugged, hard-hitting defenseman who was originally drafted by the Canadiens. Would likely fetch a mid-round draft pick and maybe a low-calibre roster player.

  • Denis Gauthier: Slightly younger, similar numbers to Hill. His age might enable Coyotes GM Mike Barnett to ask for slightly more.
  • Derek Morris: Even younger than Gauthier, Morris is slightly more offensive-minded, but do the Canadiens need another defenseman whose plus-minus is not where it should be?
  • Eric Weinrich: Old, so the Blues would have to ask for very little for this to happen. He’s familiar to Montreal, though, and would be just what the Habs need on D if he came at the right price.
  • Brendan Witt: Perfect fit for the Habs, but he will be attracting a lot of attention on the market, and the Canadiens don’t have the buying power to outbid other teams.
  • Chris Chelios: Former Habs captain who played with Carbonneau. Would be great for him to finish his career in Montreal, but if the Wings want more than Mathieu Dandenault in exchange, forget it.
  • Sergei Gonchar: Pretty big defensive liability, but his scoring numbers are high for a defenseman.
  • Bryan Berard: Awful +/-. That’s all there is to say.

…and size and scoring up front:

  • Tyler Arnason: The likelihood Arnason gets traded is high, but does Chicago want to take a chance on Mike Ribeiro?

  • John LeClair: Old, but can still be a valuable asset for a playoff run. Really depends on what the Penguins ask for in return.
  • Mark Recchi: Same as LeClair, although he’s rumoured to have been a disruption in the locker room this year. Do the Canadiens need more of that?
  • Matthew Barnaby: Would provide some grit and the occasional goal. Don’t rule him out.
  • Mark Bell: Just what the Canadiens need – a big, scoring forward. Trading for Bell would mean giving up a top prospect such as Plekanec or Kostitsyn, but it might be worth it.
  • Todd Bertuzzi: Acquiring him would be more of a distraction than Recchi, Ribeiro, and Madonna’s wardrobe malfunction combined. No way, Souray.
  • Keith Tkachuk: Won’t waive his no-trade clause.
  • Brad Richards: Lightning GM met with his team to inform them Richards wouldn’t be traded. Forget all those crazy Theodore-for-Richards rumours.

The Canadiens have also been rumoured to be interested in Rangers backup Kevin Weekes, but with Cristobal Huet and Yann Danis manning the nets, I wouldn’t put much credence into a goalie rumour involving the Habs.
Also, don’t expect Michael Ryder to be included in any possible deals. If the Habs are to pull off a trade, the likes of Mike Ribeiro, Richard Zednik, Mathieu Dandenault, Sheldon Souray (unlikely) and maybe one of Tomas Plekanec, Alexander Perezhogin, or Andrei Kostitsyn would be sent the other way.
Before all you posters go crazy and rip this list to shreds, just a disclaimer: this is a list of names that have popped up all over the place in Canadiens rumours. Most of them are highly unlikely, but Bob Gainey has been known to pull a wildcard from up his sleeve in the past (see: Alex Kovalev). Don’t put it past him to make a significant deal, but, at the same time, don’t expect too much.


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