Thursday, January 14, 2010

Halak to St. Louis?

If one takes a moment to sit back, remove their fanboy cap and put on their GM helmet it's easy to laugh off the current rumours floating around regarding Halak and the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have no desire to trade away young players or prospects (aka affordable talent) while sitting dead last in the Western conference and firmly planted in Lottery pick territory.

In fact, the only players Edmonton is interested in moving are their high salary players and you can be certain a few of them will be moved within 72 hours of Trade Deadline day. There are only 3 days for teams to make a move after the Olympic break so it's even more doubtful anyone will add significant salary only to pay them not to play NHL games during the break.

So, what teams out there are willing to make a true hockey trade prior to the break? I believe St. Louis is the best trading partner for the Habs, primarily because both teams can address each other’s needs while improving their chances of making the playoffs without a significant swap of salary.

Montreal badly needs secondary scoring while St. Louis needs solid goaltending. Chris Mason has been sub-par all year and is 33 years old, Head Coach Andy Murray has already been fired and goalie consultant Ed Belfour quit earlier today. Indeed the pressure is on in St. Louis.

I believe Patrik Berglund and/or David Perron would be targeted by Habs GM Bob Gainey as part of a package deal involving Jaroslav Halak. Ben Bishop is just a year younger that Halak yet he hasn't shown an ability to push those in front of him to perform better. Now that Backes, who I believe is untouchable has finally come around I feel the time is right for them to make a trade and try for the playoffs.

For Montreal, they must add size and skill down the middle and at 6'04, 215 lbs Patrik Berglund certainly fits the bill. Plekanec & Metropolit are UFAs and Lapierre, who has been a huge disappointment, is a RFA on July 1st. That could potentially lead to Gomez being the only capable Center on the Habs roster next year.

It's highly unlikely Habs Management believe Brock Trotter, David Desharnais or Ben Maxwell is ready for front line duty though Trotter has played well enough to warrant a call-up.

Of course, David Perron, 6'00, 200 lbs would also greatly interest Bob Gainey who's also seeking a right-handed shot with size that just happens to be Francophone. The question is whether or not Gainey would be willing to overpay to acquire him and I think he would, unless the price was Subban.

With the reasonable salaries involved, there is certainly an opportunity to make a deal before the Olympic break as the pressure grows in both Montreal and St. Louis to do something sooner rather than later.