Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton, like the fans, the players, are gearing up for a big sell-off by the March 21 trade deadline.
Posted at 12:00 p.m.
The phenomenon of selling veterans for draft picks and, or prospects, is relatively recent. Serge Savard, like most of his colleagues, did not buy or sell in the 90s.
Réjean Houle was the first to do so, in March 1999. He first traded veteran Mark Recchi, then 31, for Dainius Zubrus, 20, and a second-round pick.
The idea wasn’t bad at first. Zubrus, a first-round pick, was showing great promise and the Canadian was going in circles with Recchi, whose performance seemed to be diminishing.
But Zubrus never became the player hoped for in Montreal and he was traded a few seasons later by Réjean Houle’s successor, André Savard, while Recchi amassed 91 points on his return to Philadelphia. He would still have 691 points left to accumulate…
The second-round pick in the trade allowed tough defenseman Matt Carkner to be drafted. He had a modest career, but never played for Montreal.
Less than two weeks later, 31-year-old Vincent Damphousse, at the end of his contract and at loggerheads with coach Alain Vigneault, went to the Sharks for first-round picks in 2000 and second-round picks in 2001. The Canadiens captain learned of the transaction after a five-hour flight between Montreal and Calgary, where CH was preparing to face the Flames, and had to turn back in the same aircraft to collect his personal belongings in Montreal…
Again, the idea was not bad. Montreal received the 16and Sharks’ total pick. But the player chosen, Marcel Hossa, did not have the talent of his famous brother. He played 237 games in the NHL, including 59 for the Canadiens.
Réjean Houle was a salesperson again in February 2000.
Vladimir Malahkov, 31, moved to the Devils for Sheldon Souray, 23, and a second-round pick was more profitable. Souray has become a dominant defender in Montreal.
The second-round pick obtained for Damphousse eventually allowed André Savard to protect key players in the draft from the expansion of the executives by Columbus in 2001 and the second, in the Malakhov trade, moved to Washington with Zubrus and Trevor Linden for Richard Zednik, Jan Bulis and a first-round pick (Alexander Perezhogin).
This transaction could be qualified as a sale by André Savard since Bulis was 22 years old and Zednik 25 years old, while Linden was already in his thirties. Perezhogin, a favorite of Savard, was never able to establish himself in the National League however after two disappointing seasons. A long suspension in the American League for a slashing offense didn’t help his development either.
After the reign of compulsive buyer Bob Gainey, Pierre Gauthier was the next to sell, almost eleven years after André Savard, in February 2012, a few months before his dismissal.
He got three second-round picks for Mike Cammalleri, Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitstyn, plus Rene Bourque in the trade for Cammalleri and Blake Geoffrion in the trade for Gill.
With these three second-round picks, used by Gauthier’s successor, Marc Bergevin, still under the authority of Trevor Timmins, who lived through the reigns of André Savard, Gainey, Gauthier, then Bergevin, Montreal drafted Jacob De La Rose and Zach Fucale in 2013 and Dalton Thrower in 2012.
The 2013 vintage was not very strong. Only six players drafted in the second round that year, including two Montreal picks, De La Rose and Artturi Lekhonen, have played more than 200 games in the National League. Fucale was finally able to play a few games there this season with Washington.
Marc Bergevin was in a buyer’s position during the first years of his reign, between 2012 and 2015. He took the opportunity to acquire, among others, Thomas Vanek and Jeff Petry in the deadlines of separate exchanges, in 2014 and 2015.
It found itself in a short position for the first time in 2016 and it struck a blow. For two late-stage rental players, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, Bergevin got a young Phillip Danault and a 2018 second-round pick that landed Alexander Romanov, one of the most spectacular trades of his reign.
Bergevin again found himself in a selling position in 2018. This time, he traded Tomas Plekanec to rival Maple Leafs for two youngsters and a second-round pick. Kerby Rychel and Rinat Valiev were cheap and the Canadian drafted Jacob Olofsson late in the second round, probably a lost hope somewhere in Sweden.
Bergevin had to wait until September to “sell” captain Max Pacioretty, but he got an eventual number one center, Nick Suzuki, a decent replacement for Pacioretty for a few years, Tomas Tatar, and a second-round pick.
The GM of the Canadian exchanged this choice to end up with third and fifth round choices. Jacob LeGuerrier is no longer with the organization and don’t hold your breath in the case of Mattias Norlinder. Regardless, Suzuki is worth its weight in gold.
It is also thanks to these sales that the CH has two of the most promising young players in the team, Suzuki and Romanov.
Bergevin must win the palm of the best salesman, and by far.
A somewhat forgotten rookie in Florida
We tend to forget, but with his spectacular five-point night on Monday night, Anton Lundell is within three points of Lucas Raymond and the number one scorer among NHL rookies. Lundell, 20, 12and overall pick by the Panthers in 2020, now has 32 points in 42 games and forms a formidable line with Sam Reinhart and Mason Marchment. After a rather modest start, 7 points in its first 18 games, Lundell has amassed 25 in its last 24 meetings. Rather impressive!
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Free washer | And the prize for the best seller in the CH goes to…