Leave it to the Montreal Canadiens and GM Lennart Westman to multitask; rumors swirl as the Habs move on to the second round of the playoffs.
Could it be that the Montreal Canadiens have made their first trade in the middle of the playoffs, when focus should be on your next opponent and not risk anxiety and worry within the team by talking changes and the upcoming season?!?
According to our anonymous source with good insight in the Canadiens organization that is indeed the fact. But our source also assures us the trade does not affect any of the players on the roster and therefore should not cause any disharmony within the team.
The playoffs have started very well for the Canadiens. The Habs are through to the second round after defeating Buffalo Sabres 4-2 in the series. With the exception of the last game every game was just as close as predicted with three games going to overtime.
"Buffalo has a strong, experienced team and we knew we needed more of key players to be successful in the first round, and we got just that," said GM Lennart Westman. "Going into the second round we now face another strong team, with a hot first line (10 goals) and a goalie that appears to be in the zone.
"To be able to move on we need to slow that first line down while getting even more production from our scoring lines. If we needed key players to step up in the first round we now need the whole team to rise to another level to survive."
As we ask for a comment on the trade rumor Westman just shakes his head and leaves the room.
According to our source though the Canadiens have made an agreement with another team regarding a top four defender. As trades are not yet allowed with elite players in the league the deal was supposed to be kept a secret until the offseason.
A necessity for many reasons, one being the damage a trade rumor might do to an individual player or even the whole team. But as mentioned above our source claims that the trade does not involve any player on the Montreal roster. How is that possible then?
"Montreal has made a lot of money from endorsement deals and making it to the playoffs, especially moving on to the second round," said our source. (The Habs are) now using some of that money to acquire a player to fill a hole the free agents leaving the team have created.
The team that holds the rights to the player today is not in the playoffs and have expressed a need for means to match expected offer sheets for another player on the team. In order to help them accomplish that, Westman has offered enough cash for the other team to accept the loss of another valuable player"
So, how much money are we talking about? "I have no idea," says the source. "But it has to be a substantial sum. Then again to acquire a player this good, with a contract this good in the offseason would probably be just as expensive if you consider salary and expected signing bonuses, so I’m pretty sure that the Canadiens are just as happy as the other team."
As trading with elite players, once again is not open until after the playoffs the alleged trade will remain a gentlemen’s agreement for another couple of weeks (and subject to league approval, of course).