Technically, the Montreal Canadiens are a bit closer to the East’s last wild card spot than they are to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the East’s cellar dweller.
The truth is that their situation is still pretty dire, and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that GM Marc Bergevin is likely to sell his rental-friendly players heading into the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
LeBrun believes that a splashier trade would be more likely to come during the summer, yet that doesn’t mean that the Habs won’t sell off an interesting piece or two.
That doesn’t mean there can’t be a big deal in the next 11 days. I think Montreal would listen to many things. But the sense you get from talking to people around the league is that the Habs’ main focus is mostly to get whatever they can for pending unrestricted free agents Dale Weise, Tom Gilbert and Tomas Fleischmann, for example.
To reiterate, as Darren Dreger did in this TSN Insider Trading segment, no one big like P.K. Subban will be moved … and Michel Therrien sounds safe, too.
Maybe the most interesting asset drawing some attention is hard-hitting, often-criticized defenseman Alexei Emelin.
(See this tweet for just one example of how he’s not in high-standing in some circles.)
The problem, LeBrun notes, is that Emelin’s contract boasts a no-movement/no-trade clause, so the Canadiens would have to convince him to waive it (a process that apparently hasn’t happened). There’s no telling that he’d accept such a proposition if they did, either.
Those details are fluid (Lars Eller may also be available, for example), but the broader concept – the Canadiens being a seller rather than trying to buy their way into the playoffs – is likely the wiser approach.
It might hurt to accept that this is almost certainly a lost season for the Habs, but sometimes you have to stomach that bitter pill to make a better shot at contending next time around.