Rumour: Habs in Late Stage Discussions For Gostisbehere?

An eight game losing streak has everyone on edge in Montreal and even after snapping out of it last night against the New York Islanders, the tension is still omnipresent around the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. After taking a 3-0 lead and dominating the game, Claude Julien‘s troop almost folded once again, surrendering two late goals to the Isles, who were playing their second game in as many nights. The team is fragile and with the Canadiens already thin on quality left-handed defensemen, the loss of Victor Mete is being felt and that, even with the outstanding play of Ben Chiarot, who played over 29 minutes against the Bruins in Boston and over 30 minutes last night against the Islanders.

Since then, beat writer Martin McGuire of 98.5 FM radio seemingly was on the air dropping a bomb, drawing a lot of attention in a fanbase desperate for action, any action that would bring in help for their favourite team. According to McGuire, who claims getting this information from a solid informant, the discussions between the Habs and the Philadelphia Flyers in regards to Shayne Gostisbehere have intensified. McGuire claims that the negotiations are at an advanced stage.

Gostisbehere, who was a healthy scratch for a few games last week, seems to have fallen out of coach Alain Vigneault‘s good books and with a cap hit of $4.5 million until the 2022-23 season, it’s an expansive scratch for a team only a million dollars below the salary cap ceiling. “The Ghost”, as they call him, played in the Flyers’ last three games, gathering three points (2G-1A) with a plus -3 differential in that span.

Habs’ GM Marc Bergevin, who is in Russia trying to convince prospect Alexander Romanov to make the jump to the NHL next season, has failed to find a suitable defense partner for Shea Weber since making his acquisition three years ago. The fact is that top-4 defensemen don’t often become available and the asking price is usually quite high for them.

Take those rumours for what they are folks: rumours. We know that Bergevin doesn’t leak rumours and in this case, it doesn’t appear to come from Philadelphia. Further, the Flyers didn’t have a single scout at the Canadiens’ game last night. Yes, it is possible that they’re not looking at getting roster players in return though.

While not known for his defensive prowlesses, Gostisbehere is a good puck-moving defenseman with good speed, who can provide offense from the backend and quarterback the point on the powerplay. The 26 year-old rearguard had a 65 points season two years ago, before taking a step back with 37 points last season. In 25 games this season, he has nine points (3G-6A).

EDIT – From Elliotte Friedman’s 31 thoughts after I wrote this article:

Captains’ ceremony

Prior to the game against the Islanders, the Canadiens, celebrating the team’s 11oth anniversary, invited several former team captains to join in the celebration. As the Habs know best how to do, the ceremony was tasteful and filled with emotional historical moments. From the on-ice video on Robert Charlebois‘ “Je reviendrai à Montréal” to the presentation of the captains coming out of the tunnel, and the family picture with the current Habs on the ice, fans were treated, once again, with a beautiful tribute to the men who wore the “C”.

If you think for a second that players, current and past, don’t care about the history of this team, think again. When they see how idolized those guys are, even the ones who never got the opportunity to raise the Stanley Cup over their head in Montreal, they realize how deep the roots of this team are in the City, in the Country.

I feel so fortunate to claim that I’m old enough to say that I have was given the privilege to watch each and every one of the captains introduced last night and it revived so many great memories, reminding me why I’ve been a Montreal Canadiens’ fan for five decades and why I will be until the day I die. Players change. Ownership, management and coaches change. But the CH, the logo, the history, the passion and the entertainment don’t. The love for this team remains and that, whether the team has success on the ice or not. No, it’s not settling for mediocrity. It’s years of pride and passion that simply don’t vanish. It is my hope that you, readers, feel that pride and that one day, you will be the ones writing and talking about it… as I do now. Go Habs Go!

Habs in discussion with the Flyers?

What’s the Montreal Canadiens’ biggest need? You would have asked that question a year ago, many would have said “depth at the centre position”. After the outstanding work done by Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins last summer, very few would have the same answer if asked today. Instead, they will be pointing to yet another position that’s been seriously lacking for years: a quality top-4 left-handed defenseman to play with either Shea Weber or Jeff Petry. A guy who can log big quality minutes against the opposition’s top lines.

The good news? There are a few options out there if we believe what’s being thrown around the rumour mill. Some link the Canadiens to soon-to-be UFA Jake Gardiner but it is yours truly’s opinion that because there will be a high demand for him, he will be highly overpaid for what he brings to the table and his next contract has a good chance to become, with Erik Karlsson‘s, a huge albatros contract for whomever signs him.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Canadiens are better off giving assets to get the player that they want, but with a reasonable contract, than not giving assets by signing an overpriced free agent. Really, what they need is a stop-gap on the left side until Alexander Romanov can have an impact at the NHL level.

That is not surprising, at least not for me. Shayne Gostisbehere has seen his ice time diminish by the end of last season in Philly as he seemed to have fallen out of interim head coach Scott Gordon‘s good books. I really thought that the Habs would try to snag him at the trade deadline and who knows? There might have been talks about it and they could have agreed to keep talking this summer. It seems like they are talking now.

The Ghost Bear, as they call him, is a mobile, puck moving defenseman with a good offensive upside and while he’ll never be in the running for a Norris Trophy, he can hold his own defensively. He has a good stick and his foot speed allows him to skate out of trouble for the most part. Can he play against the top lines on the other side? The Jury is still out on that one.

Shayne Gostisbehere’s name is linked to the Canadiens

Is anyone surprised that the Flyers would be eying Andrew Shaw? Talk about prototype in Philadelphia: gritty, in-your-face forward who can cause havoc in front of the net? I would hate losing Shaw (or Paul Byron for that matter) but unless you were born yesterday or have been hiding under a rock your entire life, you should know that in order to get something of quality, you have to sacrifice quality heading the other way. The Habs had to sacrifice P.K. Subban, Mikhail Sergachev, Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty in order to get Weber, Jonathan Drouin, Max Domi, Tomas Tatar and top prospect Nick Suzuki. Also, the Habs are deeper on the wing than any other position so they would be trading from a position of strength, which is what you want.

Personally, I’d be more inclined to go with Nick Leddy, also rumoured to be available. Bergevin knows the 28 year-old veteran very well from their days in Chicago. Leddy is stronger defensively than Gostisbehere and he has tons of experience. He has three years remaining to his contract, with a cap hit of $5.5 million. In my opinion, he would be the perfect fit in Montreal, allowing just enough time for Romanov to properly develop.

June 15th

The past two seasons, Bergevin and the Canadiens have pulled the trigger on major trades on June 15th. Two years ago, Bergevin shipped Sergachev to Tampa Bay for Drouin. Last year, Galchenyuk was sent packing to welcome Domi to Montreal. The year before, June 24th was a big day when Lars Eller went to Washington for picks, and Shaw came to Montreal, also for picks. That year, the BIG trade happened on June 29th, a trade that some fans have yet to digest.

So the next few days, few weeks, will be very exciting if you’re a Habs’ fan. Keep a close eye on Bergevin but please, please take every rumour with a grain of salt, even the one mentioned above. The rule of thumb is: if it doesn’t come from Bob McKenzie, Pierre Lebrun, Elliotte Friedman or Darren Dreger, there’s a very good chance that it’s not true. Oh and one last thing: remember to follow this simple guide not to get caught up with fake Twitter accounts! Go Habs Go!