I was just reading an excellent history of Bob Gainey's trading activity as an NHL general manager over at Lions in Winter, and it got me thinking.
Could Bob Gainey be a partial seller Wednesday?
The last two trade deadlines in Montreal have been marked by Gainey trying to grab some value for impending unrestricted free agents he had no intention of re-signing. Two years ago it was Craig Rivet, which brought the Canadiens Josh Gorges and Max Pacioretty. And last year it was Cristobal Huet for a second round pick in this year's draft.
So who among this year's massive crop of unrestricted free agents are unlikely to return to Montreal?
Alex Kovalev? I think that's a fair bet, but I'm not sure there would be equal value coming back for him unless what Darren Dreger reported about Erik Cole being part of a potential package from the Oilers for him is true.
But the more intriguing name for me is Alex Tanguay. His value is diminished because he won't have played a game before the 3 p.m. deadline Wednesday, but Tanguay could entice some GM out there desperate to add some scoring talent who would be willing to give the Habs the defenceman they badly need.
I don't think it would be such a bad move, because I don't feel Tanguay ever really found a role on this team or linemates that he developed any chemistry with while he was healthy. If he can bring in a defenceman who could compete for playing time on the Habs third pairing, then Tanguay may be worth shipping out.
The only reason I'm even thinking of this scenario is simply because Gainey's pattern of behaviour on deadline day has led me to expect the unexpected. So maybe Tanguay leaving town is something we should expect.
Any buyer needing offence in the Western Conference could be a decent trade partner, but the problem is Tanguay has a no-trade clause and would need to be consulted on the location. That likely takes a few of the teams out of the running, like Nashville and Columbus for instance.
But Vancouver could use a high-end winger, and they have tons of cap space to absorb what's left on Tanguay's big contract. They also have Mathias Ohlund headed to unrestricted free agency, but I'm not sure they would do that. But would Gainey accept potential restricted free agent Shane O'Brien and a pick as a sufficient return for Tanguay?
Not sure, but I feel this is a chip that Gainey has in his back pocket that hasn't been talked about at all, and that's a big reason why he may be in play on Wednesday.