What the Puck: There is no downside to trading Eric Staal for the Canadiens

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What the Puck: There is no downside to trading Eric Staal for the Canadiens


The Canadians are relinquishing third and fifth round picks in this year’s NHL Draft for a seasoned center with courage and skill who will help in the playoffs.

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I really like Eric Staal’s job. What not to like? You’re giving up the third and fifth round picks in the NHL Draft this year for him. This is what we like to call a bag of pucks in technical jargon.

Better yet, the Buffalo Sabers agreed to pay half of his US $ 3.25 million salary. And in return, the Canadiens get a seasoned cross with courage and skill, and he also scored more goals last season than any of the Montreal Canadiens’ current crosses.

Sure, the grunts say he’s a great old dude, that it would have been a great job in 2010 and so on, and there might have been a time when I would have joined the chorus of opponents of the peanut gallery. But that was then, it is now. The bottom line is that the Habs are a better team today with the addition of Staal, even at 36, and it costs the team next to nothing.

But let’s not go too far here. It does not change the situation. It’s a good decision and it helps Montreal in the middle. And he’ll give the playoffs a boost. Count on it. So everything is positive.

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What he emphasizes, however, is how weak Canadians remain at the center. Staal scored 19 goals last season for the Minnesota Wild and none of the Canadiens’ current crosses have matched that total.

Phillip Danault scored 13 goals in 71 games last season. Jesperi Kotkaniemi only scored six goals in 36 games last year and was demoted to Laval midway through the season because he was playing so poorly. Nick Suzuki also scored 13 goals in 71 games last season. Jake Evans scored two goals in 13 games last season. This season, Danault has two goals, Kotkaniemi has four, Suzuki has seven and Evans has two.

Obviously, Staal isn’t ripping the standings and he has just three goals this season for a horrific Buffalo Sabers team.

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But it’s a no-hassle trade for Canadians. And Staal is old, but it’s hard not to think of another guy in the same age group, Corey Perry. Perry is 35 and was originally supposed to be part of the taxi crew. The elderly player has become a key member of the squad, albeit in the fourth row, and he’s shown his hands are as soft as ever. Like Staal, Perry will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

The real news here is that you might not have believed me before, but this is just the latest confirmation that Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is all-in this season. He needs his team to make some noise in the playoffs and that’s one more move to try and make that happen.

Bergevin knows his job is on the line. He has to do the postseason, but at this point I think that shouldn’t be a problem, as none of the three teams under the Habs in the North are likely to make them. catch up. But the Habs need to win at least one lap if Bergevin is to survive and the addition of Staal makes that more likely.

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The fun part of the trade is that it comes just a day after Bergevin once again said he was not thinking about making any big deals because he was against the salary cap. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been claiming Berg would make a deal or two no matter what he said and I would argue that the trade and deal is probably not over for the dashing GM.

So it turns out that he wasn’t completely transparent with us miserable media. Not much. As a friend joked to me the other day after a press conference where he said the same thing, “What do you expect from him? Give you his bank PIN code? ”

GMs play their cards close to their chest, and no GM is more wary of information leakage than Bergevin. Remember back in June 2016 when he was telling anyone who wanted to listen that PK Subban was definitely not in the trading block and not shopping with his star defender? I know you remember. Me too. A few days later, he made the hit move that sent Subban to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber.

You might want to take Bergevin’s comments on potential trade with not a grain but rather a large container of salt.

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