Canadiens: What, Exactly, is Montreal Doing?

The trade deadline has come and gone, moves were made and not made, things were done and undone. And in the middle of it all, it’s awfully hard to figure out exactly what the Montreal Canadiens are doing.

Confusion seems to be the order of the day throughout the Habs’ fanbase and local media – and for good reason.

Montreal is on pace to miss the post-season for the third straight year and that’s given general manager Marc Bergevin a job to do. Unfortunately, Monday saw the GM trade off a few pieces and not trade off a few others.

Notably, Bergevin ended the Ilya Kovalchuk experiment Sunday and traded the winger to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick. Kovalchuk will doubtlessly benefit the Capitals in their playoff push and the Habs helped boost his profile back to respectability.

About a week ago, Bergevin traded Marco Scandella to the St. Louis Blues for a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional selection for 2021. That wasn’t bad, especially since the Canadiens landed Scandella for a fourth-round pick in the first place.

Nate Thompson was traded out of town to Philly for a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The 35-year-old from Anchorage had 14 points in 63 games, averaging about 13 minutes of ice time a game. He was a penalty kill guy with 60 games of post-season experience, the final year of his contract looming to the tune of a million smackers.

Nick Cousins and Matthew Peca were also traded away, leaving pending UFAs like Tomas Tatar and Jeff Petry in the fold. Maybe there wasn’t a deal to be made for the latter pair. Who knows?

What is known is that nothing much is known about where the Habs are headed. Missing the playoffs is in the cards again, but where does this bus roll to a stop? What does Bergevin have planned for the future? Who even are the Montreal Canadiens at this point?

November was tough on the team, without question, but that’s life in the big leagues. Hockey marches on and Bergevin’s lacklustre deadline day business didn’t exactly inspire a sense of direction. When word came out that there was a better offer on the table for Kovalchuk – one from a “less desirable team” – it was impossible not to sense disappointment from the Montreal faithful.

The Canadiens have to be honest: they haven’t produced a single player capable of scoring 70 points in a season since 2002. That was Saku Koivu, by the way, and he scooped 71 in 2002-2003. Since then, Montreal’s inability to generate a star beyond the crease has been legendary.

So, the core is in place for the Montreal Canadiens and you can make of that what you will. Bergevin’s sense of direction is based on following a contradictory and perplexing map. What that means for the next few years of Habs hockey is not particularly inspiring.

Photo credit: NHL.com

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