Kypreos: Habs Looking for Top-4, But Who?


They are few and far between the Insiders who can be considered as legitimates and fans are desperately wanting to know the “ins” with their favourite team, going as far as believing people who remain anonymous and who provide no sources for their claim while pretending to be in-the-know. Amongst the Bob McKenzie, Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun of this world are two reputable people who should be taken seriously when it comes to having sources through the NHL: Elliott Friedman and Nick Kepreos.

The later made some waves through Habs land on Saturday night during the intermission of the game between the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens when he claimed that it’s only a matter of time before young defenseman Mikkail Sergachev is sent back down to his junior team but that Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin is working on trying to acquire another Top-4 defenseman before doing so. Kypreos justifies his claim as the Canadiens want to get someone who can eat up some ice time away from Shea Weber and Andrei Markov.

Personally, I feel like the position of centre is a bigger and more important issue to address, but I have never claimed to have sources. It’s just one fan’s point of view. Kypreos does have his connections throughout the NHL, although not necessarily in Montreal and it is possible that someone from another team gave him that information. Does that mean that something is pending? Not at all. But it could certainly mean that in spite of his team’s hot start, Bergevin is making calls looking for another defenseman.

If the Canadiens are looking for a Top-4 defenseman, it might be because they don’t feel like the experiment of Nathan Beaulieu in that role has been successful. RDS’ Martin Lemay was tweeting on October 24th that Beaulieu had a temper tantrum in practice because he was pulled off the powerplay and placed on the penalty kill instead. According to Lemay, the defenseman broke his stick on the net and refused to do push-ups that even Shea Weber and Jeff Petry were doing.

Who could be a target?

It seems unlikely that the Canadiens would be looking for someone to play on the right side, as the team is pretty happy with Weber, Petry, Greg Pateryn and Zach Redmond, although currently injured. I did some (no so scientific) research and pin pointed a few potential targets who might – or not – be in Bergevin’s sight. As a main criteria, the ice time per game was a huge factor, as a Top-4 must be able to play over 20 minutes per game, but also taken into consideration were previous rumours and the start of the season their team is having.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI)

Why, I don’t know, but OEL has been rumoured to be shopped for a couple of seasons now. Since he has yet to be traded, the asking price must be pretty high and rightfully so. Ekman-Larsson is an excellent puck-moving defenseman who can skate and put up some points. At only 25, he may not have even reached his full potential. It would take a ransom price to pry him out of Arizona but he would be worth every penny. The Coyotes have only won two of their first eight games, and are currently sitting in last place in the Western Conference at the time of writing this.

Alexander Edler (VAN)

Edler was once thought to have the potential to become a perennial Norris Trophy candidate in Vancouver, before his game not only plateaued, but somewhat regressed after signing a pretty lucrative deal with the Canucks. It seems like every time he makes a mistake, it is amplified. He is however a good skater and a decent puck-mover, and while he may not be worth his $5 million cap hit, he does have a lot of upside. Prior to the acquisition of Shea Weber, I was totally against the thought of trying to get Edler out of Vancouver but I’m forced to admit being curious about the possibility of seeing him paired with a top-end defenseman. Vancouver is a team going nowhere anytime soon and might look forward to unloading his contract.

Nick Leddy (NYI)

The acquisition of Leddy and Johnny Boychuk has changed the New York Islanders’ defense and has turned the franchise into a playoffs’ team a couple of years ago. To my knowledge, his name has not come up in trade rumours and he signed a long term extension with the Islanders, paying him richly until the end of the 2021-22 season. Having said that, the Islanders are rich on quality prospects on defense and the team is up to a dreadful start, sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference. Having lost key forwards like Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, they might be looking at shaking things up.

Cam Fowler

Cam Fowler (ANA)

There is a name that, for some reason, has been in trade rumours for a couple of seasons now in Anaheim. Yet, he’s still a Duck as off today, which tells us that either the rumours are bogus or the Ducks’ asking price is too steep. At 24 years old, Fowler is a good skater who has yet to reach his full potential and is believed to be a trading chip for an Anaheim team which got eliminated in the first round last season and which is up to another slow start of the season, although not as bad as last season. The Canadiens have been rumoured to be interested last year and as we well know, trades often take a lot to time to be consumed. If what Kypper is saying is true, I would keep a close eye on this possibility as a Habs’ fan.

Jack Johnson (CBJ)

Columbus is flirting with the .500 mark so far this season, which is well below where they would like to be at this point. John Tortorella’s team has not been doing so well and while they have only allowed 17 goals in seven games so far (only Montreal, New Jersey and Washington have allowed less), they have also only scored 18, with only Vancouver and Buffalo having scored less in the NHL. With Seth Jones set to become a stud at the blue line, the 29 year-old Johnson might be an interesting chip sacrificed in a potential trade for more offense, particularly that the Blue Jackets seem to want to go younger.

Dan Hamhuis (DAL)

Wiley old veteran, often flying under the radar, the 33 year old Hamhuis signed as a free agent with the Stars this summer so it is somewhat unlikely that he would be traded… although not impossible. What makes me think that he might be an interesting trading chip for the Canadiens’ however, is the fact that the Stars are up to a rather slow start to this season, well below the expectations placed on that team. Also, perhaps the Habs might be tempted to make this a slightly bigger deal in trying to get bigger up the middle, and make a pitch for Jason Spezza. Let’s face it, Bergevin has made it pretty clear that he is thinking Stanley Cup sooner rather than later with the Weber trade, and those two veterans could go a long way to help get to that goal.

There you have it folks. There are likely several other candidates, bigger, smaller trades that could be consumed, and it’s impossible to crack what Bergevin is trying to do, unless information leaks from the other side. Heck, he may not even be actively shopping but we know what happened the last time he wasn’t shopping someone. If a substantial trade is consumed, names like Beaulieu, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais (wishful thinking) and prospects could be interesting baits sacrificed by the Canadiens’ GM. In the meantime, Go Habs Go!!!

Player Team Shoots Age Height Weight Cap Hit TOI/G GP G A PTS
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Arizona Left 25 6’2″ 200 $5.5M (2018-19) 26:01 8 5 1 6
Alexander Edler Vancouver Left 30 6’3″ 214 $5.0M (2018-19) 24:20 9 1 0 1
Nick Leddy NY Islanders Left 25 6’0″ 199 $5.5M (2021-22) 24:00 7 1 1 2
Cam Fowler Anaheim Left 24 6’1″ 207 $4.0M (2017-18) 23:59 9 3 4 7
Jack Johnson Columbus Left 29 6’1″ 226 $4.4M (2017-18) 22:03 7 0 0 0
Dan Hamhuis Dallas Left 33 6’1″ 200 $3.5M (2017-18) 21:13 7 0 2 2

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