The Montreal Canadiens have traded forwards Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenceman Rinat Valiev, forward Kerby Rychel and a second-round draft pick for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
The deal positions the Canadiens to re-sign Plekanec after a brief stint in Toronto, as the 35-year-old’s desire was to stay in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal had discussed an extension with Plekanec ahead of the trade and all the pieces seem to be in place for a return, according to reports.
General manager Marc Bergevin did have a swap with the Winnipeg Jets in the books, but the player’s preference was a move in the same conference and he made that happen.
The Habs will retain half of Plekanec’s salary as part of the deal, the maximum allowed.
If Montreal is able to snag Plekanec back after the post-season, this is a deal that works out like gangbusters for the Canadiens.
It’s not a bad trade for Toronto either, as they get a veteran presence with Auston Matthews on the shelf for a while. Plekanec will help the Maple Leafs in the short-term and will bolster the club’s veteran leadership alongside Patrick Marleau.
One of the only issues here is that Plekanec may have to shift to the wing, with Matthews, Nazem Kadri and William Nylander already occupying the position. That could open the new hire up for more offensive opportunities, however, and that could mean a shift in fortunes for his less-than-stellar 4.8 shooting percentage.
The Habs also get Baun, who’s been playing in the AHL this season. He has 16 points in 54 games with the Laval Rocket and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Valiev is a defensive defenceman with 15 points for the Marlies this season. He’s set to be a restricted free agent this summer.
Rychel is another pending RFA. He has 30 points in 50 games with the Marlies and was a first-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.