All posts by Brandon Maron

Grading 5 of Bergevin’s biggest moves during Canadiens tenure

Marc Bergevin's time with the Montreal Canadiens has come to an end following nearly 10 years. After taking over as the general manager of the illustrious franchise in May 2012, he became one of the NHL's most active executives.

Montreal had a roller coaster of success and failure during his time, making the playoffs six times while reaching the Stanley Cup Final once and the Eastern Conference Final twice. Bergevin certainly made a number of massive moves to try to improve the Habs during his time at the helm, but he wasn't able to piece everything together to form a championship roster.

With the Canadiens set to usher in a new era under newly hired vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton, let's take a look back at five of Bergevin's franchise-altering moves during his tenure.

Dealing Subban for Weber

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

There were rumblings at the time that the relationship between P.K. Subban and the Canadiens organization wasn't great, but trading one of the most popular players the franchise had in years still seemed like a long shot. Not only was Subban electric on the ice, but fans adored him.

In June 2016, moments after the shocking Taylor Hall-for-Adam Larsson trade, it was announced that the Canadiens dealt Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. Similar to Subban in Montreal, Weber was the face of the franchise in Nashville and a true legend of the team. The deal sent shockwaves throughout the NHL, receiving mixed feedback.

To this day, people still debate who won the trade. Ultimately, it seemed to work out pretty well for both sides. Subban played an integral role in Nashville during his first season en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance. The Canadiens got their future captain and one of the league's most respected veterans. Fast forward to today, and Subban is no longer the dominant Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman he once was, while Weber is on the verge of retirement due to injury.

It's fair to say Bergevin took a massive gamble and came away a winner. The fanbase was shocked at first but quickly welcomed and adored Weber. He anchored the blue line over the last five seasons and did everything that was asked of him. You can't ask for much more than that.

Grade: B+

Moving on from Pacioretty

Christopher Pasatieri / National Hockey League / Getty

This surely had to be one of the toughest moves of Bergevin's tenure. Max Pacioretty was a fan favorite and one of the most consistent goal scorers the club had seen in decades. Shortly after being named captain in 2015, things seemed to sour between Pacioretty and the organization, which ultimately led to him being traded.

Bergevin undoubtedly hit a home run on this one. Getting Nick Suzuki - who's quickly developing into a legitimate No. 1 center - along with Tomas Tatar and a second-round pick from the Vegas Golden Knights was a fantastic haul. It also worked out for the Golden Knights, as Pacioretty has continued to dominate.

One thing that we've learned over the last decade is that Bergevin isn't scared to make a big trade or shake things up. Making this deal got the Canadiens the franchise center they'd been looking for forever and put the team in a much better position to be competitive for years to come.

Grade: A

Breaking the bank for Price

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

The Canadiens have taken a lot of flack ever since they signed Carey Price to his hefty contract. With an annual cap hit of $10.5 million, he still remains the league's highest-paid goalie. Bergevin isn't to blame for this one, though. His hands were tied, and if he didn't sign Price at the time, another team surely would've backed up the Brinks truck.

Price was the nearly undisputed best goalie in the world when he signed in 2017. As he just showed with his performance last postseason, he's arguably still in the running for that title. Price followed up his dominant 2014-15 Hart Trophy-winning campaign with two more great seasons, so Montreal signing him to an eight-year, $84-million contract was inevitable.

Sure, Bergevin could've let Price walk into free agency and let another team pay him. It's impossible to say how the Habs would look today if Price signed elsewhere. But there's no doubt he has the utmost respect of his teammates and players around the league, and he's still seen as one of the top netminders in the world. The contract definitely makes Montreal's cap situation tricky, but Bergevin had to do it.

Grade: B-

Bringing Drouin back home

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Jonathan Drouin wasn't happy with his role and progression in Tampa Bay after being selected third overall in 2013. Bergevin took note and didn't balk at the opportunity to bring in the Quebec native to play in his home province. The price was steep but fair: Mikhail Sergachev, who at the time was deemed a top defensive prospect but barely had any NHL experience.

Yet the move was puzzling. Sergachev, whom the Canadiens selected ninth overall in 2016, looked to be the exact piece the team desperately needed: an offensive-minded, puck-moving defenseman.

Drouin's an extremely talented forward, but he didn't address a glaring need for Montreal, and the move also dug a deeper hole on its blue line. Meanwhile, Sergachev has developed nicely in Tampa Bay, and Drouin has struggled to stay consistent. This was one of Bergevin's rare misses.

Grade: C-

Robbing Blackhawks of Danault

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

In what was probably the best move of Bergevin's time with the Canadiens, he somehow pawned off Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann on the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Phillip Danault and a second-round draft pick that was eventually used to select Alexander Romanov.

The Blackhawks didn't expect Danault to magically become a Selke-caliber two-way center when he tossed on the Canadiens sweater. Is it fair to think Bergevin knew what he was getting in him? Bergevin was the Blackhaks' assistant GM when they drafted Danault with the 26th pick in 2011.

The move couldn't have paid off more for the Canadiens. A small deadline deal that sent away two bottom-six veteran forwards earned Montreal its No. 1 shutdown center for years to come, and it also landed the team one of its top defensive prospects in Romanov. To make matters worse for Chicago, Weise and Fleischmann combined for two goals and four assists across 34 games and managed one goal in four playoff contests.

Grade: A+

Honorable mentions: Acquiring Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers; trading Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Grading 5 of Bergevin’s biggest moves during Canadiens tenure

Marc Bergevin's time with the Montreal Canadiens has come to an end following nearly 10 years. After taking over as the general manager of the illustrious franchise in May 2012, he became one of the NHL's most active executives.

Montreal had a roller coaster of success and failure during his time, making the playoffs six times while reaching the Stanley Cup Final once and the Eastern Conference Final twice. Bergevin certainly made a number of massive moves to try to improve the Habs during his time at the helm, but he wasn't able to piece everything together to form a championship roster.

With the Canadiens set to usher in a new era under newly hired vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton, let's take a look back at five of Bergevin's franchise-altering moves during his tenure.

Dealing Subban for Weber

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

There were rumblings at the time that the relationship between P.K. Subban and the Canadiens organization wasn't great, but trading one of the most popular players the franchise had in years still seemed like a long shot. Not only was Subban electric on the ice, but fans adored him.

In June 2016, moments after the shocking Taylor Hall-for-Adam Larsson trade, it was announced that the Canadiens dealt Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. Similar to Subban in Montreal, Weber was the face of the franchise in Nashville and a true legend of the team. The deal sent shockwaves throughout the NHL, receiving mixed feedback.

To this day, people still debate who won the trade. Ultimately, it seemed to work out pretty well for both sides. Subban played an integral role in Nashville during his first season en route to a Stanley Cup Final appearance. The Canadiens got their future captain and one of the league's most respected veterans. Fast forward to today, and Subban is no longer the dominant Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman he once was, while Weber is on the verge of retirement due to injury.

It's fair to say Bergevin took a massive gamble and came away a winner. The fanbase was shocked at first but quickly welcomed and adored Weber. He anchored the blue line over the last five seasons and did everything that was asked of him. You can't ask for much more than that.

Grade: B+

Moving on from Pacioretty

Christopher Pasatieri / National Hockey League / Getty

This surely had to be one of the toughest moves of Bergevin's tenure. Max Pacioretty was a fan favorite and one of the most consistent goal scorers the club had seen in decades. Shortly after being named captain in 2015, things seemed to sour between Pacioretty and the organization, which ultimately led to him being traded.

Bergevin undoubtedly hit a home run on this one. Getting Nick Suzuki - who's quickly developing into a legitimate No. 1 center - along with Tomas Tatar and a second-round pick from the Vegas Golden Knights was a fantastic haul. It also worked out for the Golden Knights, as Pacioretty has continued to dominate.

One thing that we've learned over the last decade is that Bergevin isn't scared to make a big trade or shake things up. Making this deal got the Canadiens the franchise center they'd been looking for forever and put the team in a much better position to be competitive for years to come.

Grade: A

Breaking the bank for Price

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

The Canadiens have taken a lot of flack ever since they signed Carey Price to his hefty contract. With an annual cap hit of $10.5 million, he still remains the league's highest-paid goalie. Bergevin isn't to blame for this one, though. His hands were tied, and if he didn't sign Price at the time, another team surely would've backed up the Brinks truck.

Price was the nearly undisputed best goalie in the world when he signed in 2017. As he just showed with his performance last postseason, he's arguably still in the running for that title. Price followed up his dominant 2014-15 Hart Trophy-winning campaign with two more great seasons, so Montreal signing him to an eight-year, $84-million contract was inevitable.

Sure, Bergevin could've let Price walk into free agency and let another team pay him. It's impossible to say how the Habs would look today if Price signed elsewhere. But there's no doubt he has the utmost respect of his teammates and players around the league, and he's still seen as one of the top netminders in the world. The contract definitely makes Montreal's cap situation tricky, but Bergevin had to do it.

Grade: B-

Bringing Drouin back home

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Jonathan Drouin wasn't happy with his role and progression in Tampa Bay after being selected third overall in 2013. Bergevin took note and didn't balk at the opportunity to bring in the Quebec native to play in his home province. The price was steep but fair: Mikhail Sergachev, who at the time was deemed a top defensive prospect but barely had any NHL experience.

Yet the move was puzzling. Sergachev, whom the Canadiens selected ninth overall in 2016, looked to be the exact piece the team desperately needed: an offensive-minded, puck-moving defenseman.

Drouin's an extremely talented forward, but he didn't address a glaring need for Montreal, and the move also dug a deeper hole on its blue line. Meanwhile, Sergachev has developed nicely in Tampa Bay, and Drouin has struggled to stay consistent. This was one of Bergevin's rare misses.

Grade: C-

Robbing Blackhawks of Danault

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

In what was probably the best move of Bergevin's time with the Canadiens, he somehow pawned off Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann on the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Phillip Danault and a second-round draft pick that was eventually used to select Alexander Romanov.

The Blackhawks didn't expect Danault to magically become a Selke-caliber two-way center when he tossed on the Canadiens sweater. Is it fair to think Bergevin knew what he was getting in him? Bergevin was the Blackhaks' assistant GM when they drafted Danault with the 26th pick in 2011.

The move couldn't have paid off more for the Canadiens. A small deadline deal that sent away two bottom-six veteran forwards earned Montreal its No. 1 shutdown center for years to come, and it also landed the team one of its top defensive prospects in Romanov. To make matters worse for Chicago, Weise and Fleischmann combined for two goals and four assists across 34 games and managed one goal in four playoff contests.

Grade: A+

Honorable mentions: Acquiring Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers; trading Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Draisaitl: Not ‘realistic’ for me to score 82 goals this season

Leon Draisaitl is on a historic pace nearly a quarter of the way into the NHL season, but the Edmonton Oilers superstar doesn't think he'll keep it up.

Through 19 games, Draisaitl has collected 20 goals and 20 assists. That projects to 86 goals and 86 assists in 82 games.

"I guess it's a little crazy to think that I'm going to score 50 goals in 50 games," Draisaitl said when asked what it would mean to him if he could accomplish the feat after the Oilers defeated the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday. Draisaitl scored two goals and added two assists.

"Obviously, right now, pucks are going in for me, but this is a tough league to score in so I don't expect to hit that stat at all. Obviously going to keep shooting - if they go in, great. I know there's going to come times where they're probably not going to go in."

He's the first Oilers player besides Wayne Gretzky to record 40 points prior to the 20-game mark in a season, according to Sportsnet Stats. Draisaitl is also the first NHL player to record 40 points through 19 games since Mario Lemieux scored 44 and Jaromir Jagr scored 41 during the 1995-96 campaign.

Since the beginning of the 2018-19 season, Draisaitl ranks second in the league with 339 points in 228 games. He trails only teammate Connor McDavid, who has 354 points in 217 contests. Brad Marchand and Patrick Kane each have 277 points, though Marchand did it in 218 games to Kane's 222.

Asked to discuss the idea of an 82-goal season, Draisaitl said it's a nearly impossible task.

"You expect me to score 82 goals this year? That's not gonna happen," Draisaitl laughed. "Obviously playing with 97 (McDavid) makes it a lot easier - a lot more free ice out there with him. But I don't expect that of myself. That's not anything that's realistic, I think."

Draisaitl leads the NHL in points (40) and goals (20) and ranks second in assists (20).

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Gretzky: Leafs, Oilers much closer to winning Stanley Cup than people think

Wayne Gretzky knows a thing or two about winning the Stanley Cup, and he likes what he's seeing from the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Great One's high praise for the clubs doesn't entirely relate to their on-ice performances, but what he's able to see from the groups off the ice and how they're interacting with one another.

"I went for lunch with Leon Draisaitl, Connor (McDavid), and Darnell Nurse and it reminded me so much of me, Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffey having lunch together," Gretzky said Wednesday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan's "Real Kyper and Bourne show." "That they were teasing each other; Leon was disappointed that Connor's passes weren't as good as he thought they should be. And you know what? That's what makes teams successful. That they can tease each other and be on the same page and that ultimately they want to win a championship."

Edmonton's McDavid and Draisaitl are two of the best hockey players in the NHL, while the Maple Leafs boast a stacked group highlighted by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander.

Despite all the star power and dominating the regular season, neither team has been able to achieve any success in the playoffs. Since the 2015-16 season, the Oilers have won one playoff round while the Leafs haven't been victorious at all.

"I remember I left lunch and I said to my wife, 'You know what? This team is so much closer to winning than people understand because these guys are so close and they want to win so badly for each other and I love that,'" Gretzky said. "To me, that's even better when in the locker room these guys are all on the same page. And I feel watching the Leafs play that they have that same camaraderie. It's us, and we're together, and we don't care who scores."

After finishing as the top two teams in the North Division last year, the Maple Leafs currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division while the Oilers are in second in the Pacific Division. The Oilers haven't won the Cup since 1990; the Leafs are searching for their first ring since 1967.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Leafs’ Woll credits teammates for 1st NHL shutout: ‘It was unbelievable’

Goaltender Joseph Woll recorded his first NHL shutout in just his second career start in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 3-0 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday.

The 23-year-old didn't take much of the credit after stopping all 20 shots he faced, instead pointing to his team's effort in front of him.

"It was unbelievable, especially when you see guys going down and blocking shots when it's 3-0 towards the end of the game," Woll said, according to The Hockey News' David Alter. "I think that's really special. I think that's a testament to how strong the culture is and how everyone really likes to support everyone."

His teammates wasted no time to celebrate the accomplishment with Woll both on and off the ice.

Mitch Marner, who scored two goals in the contest, also recognized that the team was on its A-game to make Woll's life a bit easier.

"It's amazing. We talked about how we weren't great last time he was in that net. We gave up a lot of opportunities and didn't really help him much," Marner said.

"Tonight we wanted to come in with a different attitude. I thought we did a pretty good job of that. He still made some very key saves and some big saves on those power plays for them. It's great seeing a kid like that get rewarded. His work ethic is extremely high, he's a great kid to be around and (has) a lot of energy. He deserves it."

The Maple Leafs drafted Woll 62nd overall in 2016. He spent the last two seasons with the AHL's Toronto Marlies but has assumed backup duties to Jack Campbell while Petr Mrazek is sidelined.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Penguins activate Crosby, Dumoulin, Ruhwedel, Pettersson off COVID-19 list

The Pittsburgh Penguins have activated captain Sidney Crosby and defensemen Brian Dumoulin, Chad Ruhwedel, and Marcus Pettersson from the NHL's COVID-19 protocol list, the team announced Sunday.

Pittsburgh re-assigned forward Drew O'Connor, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph and Juuso Riikola, and goaltender Louis Domingue to the AHL in corresponding moves.

Crosby has appeared in just one game for the Penguins this season. The 34-year-old center missed Pittsburgh's first seven contests while recovering from offseason wrist surgery before landing on the COVID-19 list.

The shorthanded Penguins lost 6-3 to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Pittsburgh will face the Washington Capitals on Sunday night with Crosby, Dumoulin, Ruhwedel, and Pettersson projected to be in the lineup.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Capitals re-sign Dowd to 3-year contract

The Washington Capitals re-signed forward Nic Dowd to a three-year contract carrying an average annual value of $1.3 million, the team announced Sunday.

The 31-year-old is in his fourth campaign with the Capitals. Dowd has recorded one goal in nine contests this season while averaging 12:28 of ice time per game. He also leads the club in face-off percentage (56.4).

Dowd set a career-high 11 goals last season in 56 contests. He's posted 36 markers and added 43 assists across 316 career games.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Iginla doesn’t feel robbed of Hart Trophy, Stanley Cup: ‘It’s sports’

Set to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, Calgary Flames legend Jarome Iginla seems to be at peace with how his NHL career played out.

Iginla was one of the most dominant players of his generation and amassed an impressive collection of awards and accomplishments. A six-time NHL All-Star, two-time Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner, and two-time Olympic gold medalist, he notched 625 goals and 675 assists in 1,554 regular-season games and 68 points in 81 playoff contests.

But two of the most coveted trophies in hockey - the Hart Trophy and the Stanley Cup - slipped right through his fingers. Asked if he feels robbed of either, Iginla had a simple answer.

"No, it's sports," the 44-year-old said, according to Sportsnet's Eric Francis.

"I wasn't (robbed). With the Hart Trophy, I would have loved to have won it. It's an opinion. When I saw how close it was, that I was tied (with Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore), I was still thrilled to be there. What an honor."

Theodore and Iginla tied in Hart voting in 2002 with 434 points apiece. Iginla had produced one of the most dominant seasons of his career in 2001-02, leading the NHL with 52 goals and 96 points in the height of the dead puck era. He won the goal-scoring race by 11 tallies, with Bill Guerin, Glen Murray, and Mats Sundin tying for second with 41.

Theodore ultimately claimed the award because he received 26 first-place votes to Iginla's 23.

Iginla also came within inches of winning the Stanley Cup with the Flames in 2004. Holding a 3-2 series lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Calgary appeared to score the go-ahead goal late in Game 6, but the referees deemed that the puck didn't cross the goal line. The Lightning went on to win in double-overtime before taking the series in seven games.

"The Stanley Cup obviously hurt more," Iginla said. "That was a stinger."

Despite coming narrowly close to both accolades, he prefers to reflect on everything he did accomplish during his illustrious 21-year career.

"To play until I was 39 and play on Team Canada with players like (Steve) Yzerman, (Mario) Lemieux, (Joe) Sakic, (Sidney) Crosby ... it was so cool," Iginla said. "So, I don't feel like I was robbed at all. I never think that way."

He added: "I got lots of good bounces in different ways and in games, and we won championships. Memorial Cups and World Juniors. I got to throw my gloves in the air like I was 10 years old again. There are so many things to reflect on and be thankful for, and that is sport."

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Hurricanes make donation to Canadiens’ children’s foundation

The Carolina Hurricanes might not be a complete bunch of jerks after all.

Despite an ongoing feud between Carolina and the Montreal Canadiens, the Hurricanes announced Saturday they have made a donation to the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation in honor of World Kindness Day.

The Hurricanes have poked fun at the Canadiens on social media all season, beginning when Carolina signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet. The contract included a $20 signing bonus - likely alluding to Sebastian Aho's number - after the Canadiens signed Aho to an offer sheet in 2019.

Carolina temporarily launched a website titled www.didthehabslose.com after the Hurricanes defeated Montreal in October. The site featured a video of Aho scrolling on his phone and nodding to answer the question. There were also Aho and Kotkaniemi T-shirts on sale under the promo code "OUI."

"The Hurricanes may battle teams across the league on the ice, but improving communities throughout the U.S. and Canada is a goal everyone can get behind," read a statement from the team.

It added: "The Canes encourage all fans to make a donation to the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation, the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation, or the foundation of any other NHL team as we aim to spread kindness throughout the NHL community."

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Senators’ Brannstrom out 6-8 weeks with broken hand

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom will miss six-to-eight weeks with a broken hand, head coach D.J. Smith said Saturday, according to TSN 1200.

Brannstrom may need surgery, but a decision hasn't been made yet.

The 22-year-old has gone pointless in two contests with the Senators this season. He's managed three points in nine games with the AHL's Belleville Senators.

Ottawa has been hit hard by a recent wave of COVID-19 cases as well as injuries. The team removed defenseman Nikita Zaitsev from the COVID-19 protocol list earlier Saturday, but eight players remain on it.

Drake Batherson - who leads the Senators with 12 points - missed practice Saturday due to a positive test. Smith added that Batherson hasn't been placed in the protocol yet and that the team is retesting him to make sure it wasn't a false positive.

Shane Pinto and Artem Zub are both game-time decisions for Saturday's contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Smith confirmed. Pinto hasn't played since Oct. 21, while Zub sustained an injury during Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Copyright © 2021 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.