Rumor Alert: Habs Scouting Nashville Predators
As this year's NHL trade deadline begins to loom, we're going to be hearing a lot more about scouts visiting one team or another, as they often due, but if you're a Habs fan, this next piece of news might stick out like a sore thumb:
According to Jim Diamond of The Examiner, the Montreal Canadiens will be sending one of their professional scouts to all three Nasvhille Predators games this week, who will be at home for a three game home stand against the Sharks, Canucks and Coyotes.
Likely not the biggest news, as home stands are often good timing to send scouts to a team, and who knows what that scout may be doing in between games. But this news really begins to stick when you consider that accompanying him will be Pierre Gauthier's assistant GM, Larry Carriere, for at least the two latter games.
Before Habs fans start fantasizing of Shea Weber in a Habs jersey, I think it's pretty obvious that the Preds won't be trading their captain and leading scorer. Frankly, I'm a little embarrassed that I need to even mention it, but alas.
The fantasy that Habs fans might feel is a little more reasonable would be a swap of forwards that would send Andrei Kostitsyn to Nashville to play with his brother Sergei, and Swedish forward Patric Hornqvist to Montreal to play on the top six, essentially in Andrei's spot. Let me stop you all right there, as this may be as unlikely as seeing Weber as a Hab. Hornqvist is 24-years-old, shoots right, and more importantly, is the leading goal scorer on a team that isn't only fighting to stay alive in a tough Western conference playoff race, but one that is also 26th in the goal scoring department.
In fact, sitting pretty in 5th place in the West, Nashville is unlikely to make a major deal that will subtract an important player from their line-up. Moreover, it's even less unlikely that you'd see a troubled forward like Andrei Kostitysn fetch anyone of value heading into restricted free agency, yes alone a forward that's younger than him, makes less money than him, is more consistent and is signed for longer.
So get that thought out of your heads.
We could be seeing Kostitsyn in a Predators jersey by the deadline, if Pierre Gauthier feels the need to free up a little more cap-space, and Nashville could be a good fit for him with his brother Sergei seemingly bouncing back from his problems in Montreal. It could very well be the precursor to a bigger trade.
But it seems as if any deal involving the Canadiens and Predators would likely either be a salary dump to the Preds, who currently have a lot of cap space and could be looking to make a splash after acquiring Mike Fisher last week, or a swap of minor leaguers or depth players, which would fit Gauthier's M.O. a little better.
Jim Diamond seems to think that 26-year-old defenseman Alexander Sulzer could fit the bill for the Habs. A pending free agent with a small salary and a relatively big body which could be a quick band-aid for the Habs. But the young German wouldn't really fit in the Habs line-up right now, even with the injuries, and it seems odd that the Canadiens would send an assistant GM to multiple games just to scout a guy that would be going to the Bulldogs or sitting in the press box. Sulzer has a goal and 2 assists with a -5 rating in 27 games with Nashville this year, but has managed to average nearly 18 minutes in those games.
The Examiner's Heather Engel, however, seems to think that Shane O'Brien might be a better fit. The 27-year-old Ontario native may fit the bill for the Habs need a little better. He's 6'3", 230lbs, and has been known to have a mean streak in him in the past, suspended three times in his NHL career, including a 2 game suspension last month. He has been a penalty machine in the past, accumulating a career 650 PIMs over 353 games. Moreover, he is a career +53 (-6 this year however). He doesn't put up many points, with only 2 goals and 6 assists this year, but he likely wouldn't be here in that role.
He is known as a penalty kill specialist in Nashville, which could make him difficult to pry out of the hands of GM David Poille, but also a good fit in Montreal. And if Pierre Gauthier makes the offer a little enticing with a forward such as Kostitsyn, who has been known to score on occasion, I think, it could be do-able.
But then again, just like I've told you that it's unlikely to see anyone of importance making the trip from Nashville, I should probably get the idea of getting rid of Andrei Kostitsyn in the same deal out of my head as well.
What could Gauthier have in store for the Habs in the next couple of weeks? It's anyone's guess. But an educated guess would likely point us in the direction of a minor deal more than anything else.
As always, speculate and post your thoughts in the comments below!