Daily Hab-it: A home run opportunity?
Sean Couturier with the Drummondville Voltigeurs holds the Michael Bossy Trophy for best professional prospect at the QMJHL awards ceremony in Montreal, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. The CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
By Arpon Basu
Published Thursday, June 9, 2011 2:48AM EDT
The NHL's general managers met Wednesday in Boston and some very interesting news emerged.
First, the GMs are recommending that the term "blindside" be removed from Rule 48, the one regulating head shots. They said it would give referees more leeway to call a penalty, but would not completely ban all hits to the head. Stay tuned, as this recommendation needs to get through the NHL's competition committee and Board of Governors before any change is made.
But the other major tidbit dropped after that meeting adjourned came from Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, who expressed his openness to trading the No. 1 overall pick at the June 24 entry draft in Minnesota.
This is the second straight year Edmonton holds the top pick and the roster is already rife with promising young players, but lacking in established. Couple that with a lack of a clear-cut choice to take with that first overall pick, and Tambellini's stance is very understandable.
He said it would require something "exceptional" to get him to move the pick, but it's obviously difficult to ascertain what Tambellini's definition of that word is.
He says he's had talks with some teams who are "kicking the tires," and the question is could the Canadiens be one of those tire kickers?
I don't know, but I'm going to bet against it.
Still, with a player like Jonathan Huberdeau on the board, one who has shot up everyone's draft rankings in the past few months, one who was just named MVP of the Memorial Cup, and one who is born in St-Jerome, I wonder if it's not worth Pierre Gauthier's effort to at least make a phone call.
There's also Sean Couturier, a centre with a big frame whose stock has dropped a fair bit, but who still won the QMJHL award as the league's best professional prospect.
Conflicting desires of fans
Two things would happen if ever Gauthier were able to offer something exceptional enough for Tambellini to bite.
First, a public dying for a homegrown star to emerge would have a prime candidate to hinge their hopes on, which would probably have the added benefit of taking some pressure off of Louis Leblanc's shoulders.
But second, the team would be weakened in the short term, because I imagine any trade package would have to include at least one and more likely two current roster players plus picks and prospects. Would the same Canadiens fans hungry for that Francophone hero also be willing to write off Stanley Cup contention for the next couple of years?
Furthermore, who would they be willing to see go?
I've got to believe Carey Price and P.K. Subban are untouchable, and the veteran guys with trade value like Tomas Plekanec, Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta all have no trade clauses (before you even think it, there's no way Edmonton would take Scott Gomez, who also has a limited no trade). Other than them, who else would interest Tambellini?
Basically, the candidates as I see them would be Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller, Josh Gorges and maybe, just maybe, Andrei Kostitsyn.
Then there are prospects like Leblanc and Jarred Tinordi, and their own 17th overall pick plus maybe next year's first-rounder (which could wind up being considerably higher).
Would a package involving some of those assets be enough for Tambellini? Would it be worth it for the Canadiens? Is Gauthier willing to throw a wrench in a team he feels is close to contending?
I would say with 99 per cent certainty the answer to all those questions is a resounding no.
But with the presence of two high-end Quebec-born prospects in Huberdeau and Couturier coupled with the constant pressure on this team to find Francophone impact players – and the difficulties the organization has had in doing that – I wouldn't be stunned if this avenue of opportunity were not at least explored by the Canadiens at some point in the coming days and weeks.