Rumours are rumours. Many people love them, including blogs and other web sites, because they get people talking. They are often the topics bringing more hits to blogs and web sites as well. Others however, like yours truly, don’t like them. Not because they are not entertaining, but rather because it’s too easy for people to get duped into something totally made up. A guy like Eklund has become popular not because of his hockey knowledge, but because he is selling hope to fans of teams around the NHL.
As you know, I seldom take time to write about rumours, aside perhaps to expose the culprits and show how easy it is to do, as I have done when I was a Senior Writer on All Habs. But there is one that came out this week that I found intriguing, not so much because it was released by Jeremy Filosa of 98.5 Sports, but rather because it involved a disappointing player with a big cap hit in Tomas Plekanec.
According to Filosa, Marc Bergevin and Steve Yzerman are talking trade which would involve the long-time Canadiens’ centre, whose offensive production has been well below par since signing his contract extension which still has a full season remaining after this season is over, at a cap hit of $6 million.
If this rumour is true (which could be totally bogus), what would make the Lightning interested in Plekanec and his contract, considering that they don’t have any room under the cap themselves and the likeliness of them making the playoffs is slowly fading, Tampa Bay finding themselves six points from the last Wild Card spot held by the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Unless it’s to trade a bad contract for a bad contract, that is.
We know that since the asking price for Martin Hanzal seems astronomical according to reputable insiders, the name of pending UFA Brian Boyle has been linked to the Canadiens. From his 6-foot 6-inches and 244 lbs frame, Boyle has racked up 13 goals in 50 games so far this season. He has a respectable 52.3% success rate in the faceoffs’ dot and brings some much needed size and grit to the line-up. His 1.8 hits per game would place him second amongst regular forwards behind Andrew Shaw on the Canadiens. Further, being a pending UFA, Montreal wouldn’t have to protect him for the expansion draft.
But Boyle ($2 million cap hit) alone doesn’t justify Plekanec and that, not only salary-wise but talent-wise as well. We do know that Bergevin is also looking at adding depth on defense and that Nathan Beaulieu‘s name has been circulating in rumours to land a top-six forward. Trading Beaulieu without filling that hole on the left side on defense would be creating a hole to plug another and perhaps the Lighting have what the Canadiens need.
In the line of players under-performing for their contract, the Lightning probably would like to unload Jason Garrison and his $4.6 million contract which, like Plekanec, has another year left after this season. Like most Lightning player, he is having a disappointing season so far as shown by his seven points so far. He does, however, have a no-trade clause in his contract and would have to accept to be traded to the Habs.
Standing at 6-foot 1-inch and 218 lbs, he brings a nice combination of size and speed to the rink. Garrison is a hard worker and he is effective on the penalty kill. He does play a safe, mature and steady brand of defense and his 28 giveaways would rank him best amongst regulars on the Habs’ defensive core. His big point shot can be a weapon on the power play and he moves the puck efficiently out of danger. His 1.3 hits per game ratio is an improvement over Beaulieu (0.9). Only Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman log more ice time on defense than Garrison for the Lightning. It would definitely be interesting to see him paired with a guy like Shea Weber.
Of course, something else would have to head to Tampa Bay, whether it be pick, prospect or bottom-six forward, but you have here the possibility of a trade that would improve the Canadiens greatly. In addition, it wouldn’t take away key assets preventing Bergevin from addressing the team’s need for a top-6 forward. Time will tell but something is brewing Habs’ fans as the coaching change isn’t the only move that Bergevin has up his sleeve, rest assured.