Trade: Montreal acquires Gonchar from Dallas for Moen


The Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens have teammed for a relatively large move — the Stars have sent veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Habs in exchange for checking forward Travis Moen.

For Montreal, Gonchar could be looked upon to spark the club’s woeful power play. It’s the third-worst unit in the NHL at 7.7 percent and Gonchar, while getting on in age, is still a quality puck-mover with offensive ability. The move with also reunites him with head coach Michel Therrien — the two spent four seasons together in Pittsburgh — and gives the Canadiens three Russians on defense (along with Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin.)

For Dallas, Moen brings physicality and grittiness to a team mired in a seven-game losing streak, and has extensive experience playing in the Western Conference from his time with Chicago, San Jose and Anaheim (helping the latter to a Stanley Cup in 2007).

“Travis is a proven forward that does all the gritty things needed to win,” Stars GM Jim Nill said in a release. “He brings leadership and experience to our forward group and will be an important part of our penalty kill.”

It’s also worth noting Dallas reportedly tried to deal Gonchar this summer, per Morning-News scribe Mike Heika:

I was almost 100 percent sure that [Stars GM] Jim Nill would find a way to move Sergei Gonchar before the summer was over, but it looks like that could be more difficult than I imagined.

Even with the team willing to eat half of his $5 million salary (the maximum allowed under the new CBA), the Stars could not find a trade partner for the 40-year-old defenseman.

Speaking of eating salary, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Dallas will retain eight percent of Gonchar’s salary in the Montreal deal.


In the end, this deal may have simply been about Dallas looking to get out from under the Gonchar contract. It was one of Nill’s first big moves after taking the GM gig and, eventually, proved to be arguably his worst; hopes were high the 40-year-old Russian could come in and provide a stabilizing presence on Dallas’ back end, but it never came to be.

Speaking of contracts, it’s worth noting that Moen has this season and the next remaining on his four-year, $7.4 million deal — one that carries a $1.85M annual cap hit.

Gonchar, meanwhile, will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Fly away: Montreal erases 3-0 deficit, beats Philly in shootout


The Philadelphia Flyers managed to score the first goal of the game for the first time this season. They even took a 3-0 lead into the third period. Those facts might only make their 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens sting that much more, though.

Wayne Simmonds continued his hot streak on Saturday, extending a 1-0 Flyers lead to 3-0, but Montreal managed to swing the game completely in the final frame. Whatever reason you attach to the letdown – maybe the Flyers “sat on the lead,” perhaps the Canadiens just turned things up a few notches – Philly finds itself 0-2-1, wasting a 35-save night by Ray Emery.

Andrei Markov (one goal, two assists) and Tomas Plekanec (one goal, one assist) were two of the biggest catalysts for the turnaround. After the Flyers generated a 27-18 shot advantage through the first two periods, the Habs fired 19 shots to just four for Philadelphia in that 180 of a third period.

“Natural Stat Trick” might provide the best chart-based evidence, if you’re into that kind of thing:


That’s … drastic.

If that doesn’t bum Flyers fans enough, they might really struggle to put together wins for the remainder of this month:

Tuesday: vs. Anaheim
Oct. 18: at Dallas
Oct. 21: at Chicago
Oct. 22: at Pittsburgh
Oct. 25: vs. Detroit
Oct. 28: vs. Los Angeles
Oct. 30: at Tampa Bay

On the bright side, they do get a decent breather between Tuesday’s game against the Ducks and next Saturday’s trip to face the Stars. They’ll need all that time to gather themselves for some big challenges.

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Risk Factors: Montreal Canadiens edition


From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Montreal Canadiens

1. Michel Therrien might not be the man to lead the Canadiens to the Cup.

Therrien guided Montreal to the Eastern Conference Final last season and with Carey Price in his prime and P.K. Subban entering his, now is the time for the Canadiens to take the next step. That said, Montreal is still an underdog to win the it all, despite having plenty of talent on its roster.

Part of Montreal’s underdog status comes from last year’s blemishes. The Canadiens had a 100-point campaign but struggled when it came to puck possession (based largely on the team’s Fenwick, which dropped from 53.51 in 2013 to 47.86 last year, per War On Ice.)

In other words, Montreal’s in danger of regressing at a time when it wants to be a serious contender.

How much blame Therrien deserves for Montreal’s puck possession problems is open for debate, but his teams have traditionally looked bad from an advanced statistics perspective, per Sportsnet.

Therrien’s usage of Subban has also come under question on numerous occasions. While both the coach and blueliner bristle at the notion of a frayed relationship, the numbers point to Therrien not fully trusting Subban in certain situations — specifically, late-game ones that require defensive responsibility and sound decision-making.

The 50-year-old bench boss also isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers by parking slumping players.

“If you’re hot, you’re going to play,” forward Lars Eller told last season. “If you’re struggling, then you’re not.

“[Therrien] doesn’t care too much about the name on the back.”

That approach can cause friction. Daniel Briere, a veteran presence, was mired in the press box several times last year before getting shipped off to Denver (more on that below). Therrien took a similar approach with David Desharnais earlier in the season, making the diminutive forward a healthy scratch while he was slumping. Thomas Vanek, the club’s big trade deadline acquisition, expressed disappointment that Therrien reduced his role in the playoffs and messed with the chemistry developed on a line with Desharnais and Max Pacioretty.

All that said, it doesn’t appear as though Therrien’s going anywhere soon. Montreal committed to him in June by signing him to a four-year extension. He still remains a controversial coach, though, and one that has overseen a fair number of talented teams — but without leading any to a championship.

2. Andrei Markov isn’t getting any younger.

Subban and Price might be the leaders in Montreal, but there’s no question that Markov still plays a vital role. He averaged 25:14 minutes per game last year and was leaned on heavily both with the man advantage and while killing penalties. Markov rewarded Montreal with seven goals, 43 points, and a team-high plus-12 rating.

Problem is, Markov turns 36 in December — which comes in the first of his three-year, $17.25 million extension. The Russian rearguard has only missed one regular season game over his last two seasons, but also has a lengthy history of knee problems.

The Canadiens probably appreciate those risks, but they re-signed Markov anyways for a very simple reason: They couldn’t afford not to. They relied so heavily on Markov last season that replacing him internally was out of the question. Saying that, if Markov were to get hurt or significantly decline this year, the Canadiens would have a very difficult time finding a capable fill-in.

If the goal is for Montreal to compete for the Stanley Cup now, then its chances will be far bleaker if Markov isn’t able to do his part.

3. P.A. Parenteau might not have a bounce back season in him.

Parenteau had 18 goals and 43 points in 48 games with the Colorado Avalanche during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, but fell out of Patrick Roy’s favor last year. Parenteau felt he was never part of the rookie coach’s plans and, subsequently, was limited to 14 goals and 33 points in 55 contests last season.

Montreal looked to have taken advantage of the situation by acquiring Parenteau and a 2015 fifth round pick in exchange for Daniel Briere — but the trade might not be the victory the Canadiens are hoping for.

Parenteau, who was born in Hull, Quebec, will be under far more pressure now than he has been at any other point in his career. The 31-year-old was a late bloomer as he didn’t firmly establish himself until the 2010-11 campaign with the Islanders. Starting with that season, he only played for teams that failed to make the postseason until the 2013-14 Avalanche and has never played in anything close to a market like Montreal. Briere’s homecoming was a bust — will Parenteau’s be the same?

To that end, the Canadiens hoping he’ll stay healthy after he battled knee problems last season. But that’s not off to a great start; Parenteau recently sustained a lower-body injury and while it’s not believed to be serious, it might be an early warning of things to come.

Habs release Bouillon from PTO


Montreal parted ways with veteran d-man Francis Bouillon on Monday, releasing the 38-year-old from his professional tryout.

Bouillon, who had been battling for Montreal’s seventh d-man spot, spent 11 of his 15 NHL seasons with the Canadiens and rejoined the club in 2012 following a four-year stint in Nashville. He appeared in 52 games last year, scoring two goals and six points and played nine times in Montreal’s run to the Eastern Conference Final.

With Bouillon out of the mix and Davis Drewiske waived last week, Montreal appears to have its core of seven defensemen for the upcoming campaign: P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, Tom Gilbert, Nathan Beaulieu, Mike Weaver and Jarred Tinordi.

Video: Habs Subban shows patience setting up Markov

The Montreal Canadiens fell 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators in preseason action Saturday night, but defenseman P.K. Subban gave fans at the Bell Centre something to cheer about.

Subban practically skated from one goal line to the other, around all five Sens on the ice, before back-handing a feed to Andrei Markov, who one-timed it past a sprawling Craig Anderson for the Canadiens’ second goal of the game.

Unfortunately for the home crowd, Ottawa scored three unanswered third period goals for the win.