BLUELINE TRADE TARGETS FOR THE CANADIENS

  • The 2019-20 campaign appears to be slipping away from the Montreal Canadiens.
  • After missing out on the post-season two years in a row, the Canadiens currently sit two points out of third place in their division, and five points out of a wild-card spot.
  • They’re fresh off an eight-game losing streak that sunk them in the standings, clawing back with two wins over their past three tilts.
  • The problem in Montreal is clear. While the forward corps has enough talent to do some damage when healthy and Carey Price still reigns as one of the game’s top netminders when at his best, the Canadiens blue line finds itself in dire need of a boost.
  • It’s the left side, in particular, that is in need. Montreal has a fairly strong group on the right, three-men deep with Shea Weber, Jeff Petry and promising rookie Cale Fleury holding things down. On the left, it’s essentially an overworked Ben Chiarot and a slew of less-than-ideal options, with young gun Victor Mete currently sidelined with injury.
  • With GM Marc Bergevin no stranger to the trade market, let’s take a look at a few names he could target to bolster the left side of his defensive corps:
Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
  • After three impressive seasons to start his big-league career — capped off by a dominant 2017-18 campaign that saw him amass 65 points through 78 games for the Flyers — Gostisbehere’s star has fallen a bit over the past two seasons.
  • The Pembroke Pines, Fla., native’s points-per-game pace fell to a career-low 0.47 last season — though he still finished with a respectable 37 points from the back end — and he’s off to a tough start this year with that pace dropping to 0.37 points per game.
  • Head coach Alain Vigneault has taken note of the slide, making Gostisbehere a healthy scratch recently to try to spur a resurgence.
  • That being the case, the door may be open to make a deal for the smooth-skating defender, who once seemed untouchable in Philly.
  • While he’s not at his best at the moment, the Flyers need only look across the state at the rival Penguins, who took a flier on talented-but-beleaguered defender Justin Schultz after his time had run out in Edmonton, and watched him maximize his capabilities in Pittsburgh.
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks
  • Change is coming in Anaheim, one way or another. While Fowler’s long been part of the Ducks’ cause, his club sits second-last in the West with little chance of making a dent in this season’s playoff picture. With Corey Perry, one of the club’s longest-tenured veterans, leaving Anaheim last summer, it seems clear the Ducks are ready to move on from even their established names at this point.
  • The 28-year-old Fowler remains one of the team’s top trade chips if they’re hoping to add pieces for the future, with the talented offensive defender having finished above the 30-point plateau five times in his career. He’s got 15 points through 30 games so far in 2019-20, putting him on pace to top 40 for the second time in his NHL tenure.
  • Skating just under 22 minutes per night in Anaheim this season, Fowler averaged as high as 24:51 just a couple years ago, for two straight seasons, suggesting he’d be more than capable of taking on top-pairing duties alongside Shea Weber and easing the load on Chiarot.
  • Or, if Mete eventually slots back into the top-pairing role, where he’s looked good thus far, upon returning from injury, Fowler could potentially join Petry for a promising second pairing.

 

  • If Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin seeks a top-pairing left-side, Fowler is the best option.
  • He’s a solid, all-around blueliner who would bring a big boost to their defense.
  • Those traits are also why the Ducks are unlikely to part with him unless they get a terrific offer, like a good young scoring forward as part of the return.
  • Fowler also has a four-team trade list and might not be keen to go to Montreal.
  • Gostisbehere’s struggles since last season have sparked speculation over his future in Philadelphia.
  • He’s a skilled puck-mover but his defensive game often leaves much to be desired.
Sources & Credits: Sportsnet, Spectors Hockey
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