Habs may be sellers at trade deadline

Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier speaks to the media in Brossard, Que., Jan. 2, 2012. (BEN...

Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier speaks to the media in Brossard, Que., Jan. 2, 2012. (BEN PELOSSE/QMI Agency)

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The Canadiens were prepared for more personnel changes following the decision to trade left winger Michael Cammalleri to Calgary for Rene Bourque.

“At a certain point, you can’t keep firing coaches,” veteran Mathieu Darche said, referring to the firing of head coach Jacques Martin and assistant coach Perry Pearn earlier this season. “It goes down to players. We felt things might happen if we didn’t get better. We have a new player and we move on.”

Bourque’s offensive numbers are similar to Cammalleri’s over the past two seasons but he offers two advantages. He’s five inches taller and 15 pounds heavier, and his cap hit of $3.3 million is less than Cammalleri’s $6 million.

The arrival of Bourque signals a recognition that the Canadiens are too small and too timid up front, but long-term contracts for players such as Scott Gomez, Brian Guinta and Tomas Plekanec mean there may not be any quick fixes available. But the Canadiens’ current plight — they have dropped to 12th place in the Eastern Conference and are eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot after losing to Ottawa in a 3-2 shootout Saturday — would indicate they will be sellers leading up to next month’s trade deadline.

The Canadiens, who next are home against the Rangers on Sunday, have several disposable players who could help a team needing an extra piece to reach or maintain a playoff position.

Defenseman Hal Gill, who has seen his ice time drop under new coach Randy Cunneyworth, will be near the top of the list. The 36-year-old has limited mobility but he’s one of the best penalty-killers in the NHL and he has solid playoff experience, including a Stanley Cup run with Pittsburgh.

Travis Moen and Andrei Kostitsyn are versatile two-way wingers who are in line to become unrestricted free agents. Kostitsyn is considered the more talented of the two but Moen is on pace for a career season offensively and has nine goals, one less than Kostitsyn.

Defenseman Yannick Weber could be a good catch for a team looking for help on the power play. He moves the puck well, has a good shot and, at 23, he has an upside as a defenseman. His career path to date is similar to that of fellow Swiss Mark Streit, although the latter was in his late 20s when he caught on with the Canadiens. Streit was never taken seriously as a defenseman in Montreal but blossomed after signing as a free agent with the Islanders.


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