If Marc Bergevin was a great general manager, he would’ve been able to swing a trade for Matt Duchene.
The Matt Duchene trade proves Marc Bergevin is not an A-list National Hockey League general manager.
Ever since the Habs raced out of the gates this season, there has been no shortage of fans and journalists who’ve been saying that the much-maligned Canadiens GM is one of the best managers in hockey.
My point for months has been that the Habs are doing great this year and I — like every other Canadiens fan in the universe — am happy to see how well this fast, young team is performing, especially compared with the sad-sack crew that finished third-last in the Eastern Conference last year. But I am not ready to vote for Bergevin as one of the candidates for GM of the year and the blockbuster Duchene deal Friday just confirms my point of view.
Matt Duchene was traded Friday from the Ottawa Senators to the Columbus Blue Jackets. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, one of the most respected sources in hockey, reported at midday Friday that the deal is the following: Duchene and Senators prospect Julius Bergman go to Columbus in return for Blue Jackets prospects Vitalii Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, plus a first-round pick in the 2019 draft and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 draft.
Short version is that the Blue Jackets get an A-list NHL centre in Duchene for two prospects, one first-round pick and potentially another first-round pick (if Duchene signs with Columbus). Let me make it even clearer: Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekäläinen nabbed an excellent player without giving up anyone on his roster.
Think about that for a second. The Canadiens could’ve grabbed Duchene for two prospects and two first-round picks. I’ve been saying for weeks that this is a good Habs team and that Bergevin should reward them by going out and getting them some help for the playoffs. Because if he doesn’t — and I believe he won’t — this Canadiens team will, in all likelihood, miss the playoffs or sneak in and lose in the first round.
And that’s not a good scenario. It’s just more of the same mediocrity. No real playoff success, no decent draft picks. This is what we call the Groundhog Day scenario of post-1993 Canadiens teams.
Here’s another scenario: A good GM goes for it. Obviously you have to be completely insane to consider trading any of the best youngish Montreal players like, for example, Brendan Gallagher, Phillip Danault, Max Domi or Jesperi Kotkaniemi. But if you could have landed Duchene without giving up any roster players, wouldn’t you have done it?
Maybe you go into that potential first-round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs and all of a sudden your centres are, in descending order, Duchene, Domi, Danault and Kotkaniemi. Wow! All of a sudden you are looking at a highly winnable series.
You gave up picks, but all of the Bergevin supporters have been telling us for months that we already have all these fantastic prospects in Ryan Poehling, Josh Brook, Cayden Primeau and Alexander Romanov. Great. My view is a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Those 2019 and 2020 first-round picks might be two more Kotkaniemis, but I doubt it.
KotkaKid was picked No. 3 overall. The Habs aren’t getting that kind of pick this season. They’ll be, at best, middle of the first-round and we all know what that means. It’s a crap shoot. You might get a good player or you might get Louis Leblanc. Usually, you get Leblanc.
So give up those picks and see if you can do some damage this year. But that takes a GM who is not afraid to roll the dice. That takes someone other than Bergevin. You can tell me he has made big deals, trading away P.K. Subban, Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty, but my view — a view shared by many — is that Bergevin made those trades out of emotion. I believe he didn’t like those guys. And all three trades are still up for debate. I’d say he likely wins the Galchenyuk trade, but jury is most definitely out on the other two.
The mantra among the pro-Bergevin set is the future is bright with all these prospects and maybe it is. But he could’ve made the present brighter by trading for Duchene.