The Montreal Canadiens have once again bounced out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and this has been greeted with the usual calm and rational response that you'd expect from a market that would never do anything silly like trade away a generational defenseman straight up for an albatross of a contra...*sees PK Subban still in the playoffs*...oh, yeah.
But that doesn't mean that they'd make the same mistake again, right? That would be stu...wait a second...
We opened the phone lines Sunday morning on #TSN690 and nearly every caller wanted to trade Carey Price.— Sean Coleman (@SColemanCTV) April 23, 2017
oh, hang on...
Here's Marc Bergevin with some sanity, though.
Marc Bergevin is adamant, he will not trade Carey Price for anyone.— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) April 24, 2017
Well, that's OK then, because Marc Bergevin would never go back on his...oh.
Predators acquire PK Subban from Canadiens for Shea Weber - ESPN https://t.co/suZKtpFHR5— Nashville Predators (@Predatorsshow) August 5, 2016
So, essentially, when it comes to panic-trading a star player to try and fix a perceived illness, Marc Bergevin has form. When a GM has form for making silly decisions, you tend to be hypersensitive towards history repeating itself.
Of course, the Habs (and Price himself) are saying all the right things...but PK Subban and the Habs said all the right things this time last year, too.
So, let's play a game. Let's assume that John Chayka, driven by the fearlessness of youth, the pride of off-season moves sitting in front of him like an open cornucopia of possibilities, and the sheer audacious thinking that seems to be alien to most of the NHL, decides to pick up the phone, and see if lightning will strike twice.
Let's build a trade for a franchise goalie.
SOME GROUND RULES
Let's get this first one out of the way, right out of the box, and in a way that couldn't possibly be any clearer.
OEL is not on the table in these trade talks. Nor is Max Domi. Nor Clayton Keller. No. Nope. Non. Nyet. Forget it.
Second... This trade has to be realistic. We're not looking to utterly fleece the Habs here (although frankly, it can be done, as Andrew Shaw's agent has proved). No "NHL '17 on easy" shenanigans here.
Thirdly - it's got to work under the cap.
Those are your rules. And they're the only ones. With that in mind...on we go.
Cap space. This is not something the Coyotes have to worry about. According to capfriendly.com the cap-space facing them next year is over $26 million. The major players they have to re-sign under that space? Anthony Duclair, Alex Burmistrov, Teemu Pulkkinen. Players like Zbynek Michalek, Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata come in that group too, but two of those may be done with the Yotes and the 3rd is likely to be relatively cheap. Let's just say here - the Coyotes are in a hell of a strong position. The Canadiens, meanwhile, sit with $22 million and Price signed for another year...but the trouble is, they have bigger fish to re-sign. Expensive fish. Fish like Alex Radulov ($5.75 million) and Andrei Markov (even with a substantial wage cut). Or even more pressingly still...Alex Galchenyuk (we'll get more to him later, by the way).
Trade assets. On Montreal's side, we're looking at the best netminder in the NHL. One of the faces of the league - a player who's carried a franchise on his back. We've seen how important he is to Montreal...a player that no clever franchise would ever consider trading. Y'know, like PK Subban was.
On Arizona's side, though, the basket is stacked. You want crafty experienced vets? Yotes have them in the likes of Shane Doan, Brad Richardson, even Alex Goligoski. You want young talent? How about Quebec's own Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome, Anthony DeAngelo, or any one of the raft of Coyotes draft picks.
Oh, yeah...draft picks. The Yotes have those, too. Minny's this draft as well as their own in the first round, both likely to be in the top 20, and plenty going forward. There's also the likes of Mike Smith, fellow Quebecer Louis Domingue in net too as a makeweight.
The cupboard, it is fair to say, is stacked.
Pull factors. There's a few of those for Arizona. The fact that Price can join a team on the way up and push it to the next level. The fact that off the ice there is the entire desert and ranches aplenty for Carey to keep his horses. But most of all, there's the fact that Arizona is a little more easy-going than Montreal. Price can come to a place where he isn't expected to carry a franchise on his back and a media who won't push him under the spotlight for every single loss. Somewhere where he has young stars to share the load.
Somewhere where he can escape and just play hockey.
Push factors. See the above in reverse. Price wants to stay in Montreal, and that's admirable. But maybe Montreal is less happy for him to stay than they have been in the past.
Then there's the cap space issue. How much can Montreal offer Price? How much are they willing to offer him and for how long? And how much longer is Price willing to take the uncertainty, pressure, upheaval and blame in Montreal from a marketplace that is still expecting him to singlehandedly carry them to a Stanley Cup?
The Trade Takes Shape
So, let's start from a baseline here. Montreal are going to need a stopgap if they're trading their franchise net-minder. Mike Smith gives them that, for less money than they're paying Price. It seems silly to put the Yotes starter in as a "makeweight" but that's what we're doing here.
Remember we talked a day or two ago about Dylan Strome possibly needing a change of scenery? Sending Strome to Montreal, a team that's always looking for goalscoring and skill, might soften the blow of losing Price a little more. It also provides cover for the (potential) issues the Habs might face with Alex Galchenyuk. Issues that could be solved by putting him in with Price to the Coyotes, by the way, but we said we were remaining relatively realistic).
And then there's Duclair. He's a player who can score but has had...patchy play in the last season, being sent back down to the AHL. But he's a player the Habs will love. So...he's in there.
So, so far the Yotes are getting Mike Smith back to fill the gap with Price, a 3rd overall pick, and a 21-year-old who's already a 20-goal NHL scorer. That's...not a bad deal, considering they were ready to trade a generational defenseman for an older, slightly more broken version, straight up.
But if they need more, then there's Anthony DeAngelo... a player who has had a rocky road in Arizona and might need a change of environment of his own.
The Trade Proposal
Montreal trades: G Carey Price
Arizona trades: F Anthony Duclair, D Anthony DeAngelo, G Mike Smith, C Dylan Strome
Yes, the price is high. But if you want the best goaltender in the NHL, you have to pay. And crucially, this price is one that the Yotes can afford without really breaking the bank. Christian Dvorak, Brendan Perlini, and Christian Fischer to name but three mean that the Yotes could absorb this loss of their forward prospects without really shuddering.
This is likely not a deal that would end up happening. But maybe it's time to test Marc Bergevin's resolve.
If anyone can work out a way to do so, it's John Chayka.
Carey Price in Arizona would change the NHL landscape significantly. And it would push the Coyotes to the next level in an instant.
For that, there are few prices that aren't worth paying.