Marc Bergevin let the trade deadline pass his team by this afternoon without making any deals to bolster his club. The reasons for this are many, but principally one has to assume that the main reason is the serious lack of talent available to trade for. Parity in the NHL has been a blessing for the overall health of the league but it has meant that at each trade deadline over the past few seasons there are only a few teams who have given up on the idea of making the playoffs. The fact that the 8th seed Los Angeles Kings won the Cup last year certainly doesn’t help matters. When the Columbus Blue Jackets make the biggest splash of the day from 11th place in the West – you know you aren’t going to get a lot of player movement.
Frankly, beyond maybe picking up a depth forward to insure against a prolonged stay on the IR for Colby Armstrong, what would really be the point of bringing in more bodies? The return of Rene Bourque or Raphael Diaz would be more important to this club than any deal they could make today short of some drastic roster shaking blockbuster. From 2nd place in the Conference, trailing the suddenly-Crosby-less Penguiuns, the Montreal Canadiens are in the extremely lucky position of not wanting to mess with a winning combination. The additions made over the past month have all addressed Montreal’s most pressing needs while improving the team’s cap situation for next season.
The addition to Michael Ryder the Tomas Plekanec & Brian Gionta line has payed off immensely for the Canadiens. Ryder has 14 points in 15 games since re-joining his old club and has given Plekanec the sniper that he has needed on his wing since the exit of L’Artiste.
The waiver pick-up of Jeff Halpern has benefited Montreal in two important ways. The first is that Halpern has improved Montreal’s defensive zone faceoffs substantially over the past four games. Halpern wins draws and that allows all of the other centres to start more shifts in the offensive zone. Less time in the defensive end good. More time in the offensive end better. The second way Halpern has helped is on the penalty kill. Halpern has been a leader on the kill as Montreal has killed all but 1 of the penalties that they have taken since he rejoined the club. Small sample size notwithstanding, his addition has been far more beneficial than most would have suggested a month ago.
The trade of a 5th round pick to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Davis Drewiske provided Montreal with reliable depth on the blue-line which has been a concern for the team since the start of the season. Montreal’s defense has been very good at moving the puck and controlling the neutral zone, but they have lacked the kind of physical, sturdy guy that they can send out there who will have a little more sand-paper than Andrei Markov. Is Drewiske the sexy pickup that fans pine for? Certainly not. But teams that win the Stanley Cup need this type of player just as much. The unsung hero who will lay his body on the line to win. Drewiske was heralded by many pundits in the hockey-world over the past 24hours for his work ethic and team-focused attitude. From what we have seen of Michel Thierrien’s Canadiens this season – he’ll fit in perfectly to a team that is starting to get that presence about them – that they could make serious noise once the second season hits.