For the last 4 to 5 years the Canadiens have been considered Canadas best chance to end the Stanley Cup drought. But now, with several high high profile trades, questionable signings and non-signings and a dramatic lack of depth or upcoming prospects, is it time to question whether or not the Canadiens missed their window and need to rebuild?
While viewed as sacrilege in many Canadian markets, rebuilding before your assets have aged beyond any value might be the way to make Montreal relevant again.
The Canadiens have a few assets that could reap them an incredible return and provide them with a jump started rebuild not unlike Toronto and New Jersey. With a league build on speed and youth, Montreal is destined to get much worse before it gets better.
If they kept Jonathan Drouin as the keystone to work from the Canadiens should look at trading Weber, Pacioretty and, yes, Carey Price. These assets, if traded carefully, could result in an extremely competitive and young team within 2 or 3 years.
Shea Weber: At 31 years old Weber still has plenty of gas in the tank and could be a huge asset to a Stanley Cup contender. This year is the last year of paying him $12,000,000 as his salary drops next year to a more reasonable $6,000,000 with a $7,857,000 cap hit. This cap hit is problematic for competing teams but a deal where you take back a bad contract with a much shorter length makes it very doable.
Possible teams to trade him to and the asked for return –
Anaheim – Brandon Montour, Sam Steel, 2nd round pick and Kevin Bieksa to provide some cap space
New York Islanders – With a need to show John Tavares that they are competing the Islanders are a team to target. Shop Weber in a deal involving Matt Barzal and get the young high end first line center to play with Drouin going forward. Barzal is very highly thought of in the organization so this would need a few moving parts to make it happen but if it means keeping Tavares it could possibly get done.
Dallas – Dallas is in Win Now mode and they desperately need the type of defensive help that Weber can bring, They have lots of skill but almost no grit or snarl. Esa Lindell or Julius Honka plus a 1st round pick as well as taking the last year of Kari Lehtonen off their hands to make salary room.
Max Pacioretty: At 28 years of age and UFA status in a year and a half you have to temper your expectations. With that said, a perennial 30 to 40 goal scorer in his prime with an incredibly cap friendly 4.5 AAV always has value.
San Jose – Deep in centers but needing players who can finish, San Jose is the perfect fit for Pacioretti. The player to target would be Timo Meier. Meier is very highly regarded by San Jose so it might be a non starter unless they start to drop out of the Playoff picture.
New York Rangers – The Rangers could certainly use Pacioretty and his abilities but they may not have the pieces Montreal would require in return. Young goaltending phenom prospect Igor Shesterkin and Brady Skjei might get it done.
Carey Price – The final, and most important, deal. Moving the best goalie in the game would have to be carefully considered but if you got the proper pieces in return it would be something that I believe a GM would have to consider.
PHILADELPHIA – What team needs solid established goaltending more than Philadelphia? This is a team that should have been contending for years except for the fact that they have not had a reliable stopper since Roman Cechmanek in 2002 – 2003. A decade and a half is a long time for a goalie carousel for any team. With their abundance of centers and defense this is a makeable deal. Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim, a 1st round pick, and Andrew MacDonald. Taking the MacDonald contract would be the only way to entice GM Ron Hextall into giving up two such high end NHL ready prospects. And that might not even be enough.