Saturday, 16 August 2014

Can the Canadiens trade a Pateryn-Nygren package to the Dallas Stars for Brett Ritchie?

SI's Allan Muir linked to a blog post on how Dallas' defencemen are all lefties.  Every single one on their NHL roster.  And Jamie Oleksiak, the giant prospect they're waiting on, is also leftie.

I've harped on the fact that, in the later rounds, the Canadiens have concentrated in the last couple of seasons on right-handed defenceman.  They drafted Jarred and Nathan in the first round, but every other defenceman picked up was a rightie, after Mac Bennett was chosen five years ago.

I've guessed that it wasn't entirely by chance that Trevor Timmins was focusing on righties, that they weren't unfailingly the 'best-player available', that there was method to the madness.  If your blue-chippers, those you can almost count on making it, are lefties, maybe all of your longshots should be right-handed, to even things out.

We've got a backlog of righties in Hamilton, with Greg Pateryn, Morgan Ellis, Darren Dietz, and now Dalton Thrower.  Magnus Nygren is in the fold for now, as a mature offensive d-man prospect, and he's righthanded.  Josiah Didier is continuing his college career in Denver, and even-longer-shot Colin Sullivan is playing in the USHL, and yes both are righties.

And we added two more righties with 3rd-rounder Brett Lernout at the draft in June, and Nikolas Koberstein in the fifth.

So are we in a position to deal with Jim Nill's Stars?  Surely he sees that his defence needs a major tweak, a shuffle to balance it out.  There seems to be no help on the way, their farm system is also skewing to the left.  Julius Honka, who they drafted in the first round this year, is a rightie, but he's smallish and might be a few seasons away from being able to help.

It would be better if Magnus Nygren and/or Greg Pateryn were a step closer to the NHL, that they'd progressed to the point where Nathan Beaulieu is right now, a player who should have a roster spot out of training camp.  Magnus Nygren has an impressive skillset, and Greg Pateryn had a solid, almost surprising AHL season.  They're not Evander Kane-worthy trade pieces, but to a team like the Stars, who are more desperate for right-handed help on the blue line, they might be kind of sparkly and tempting.

And the Canadiens could spare a couple of righties without being left destitute.  If one or both of those guys leave, the Bulldogs, our system can continue chugging along, every other prospect takes a step up the ladder and we keep rolling.  In fact, it might be healthy for our organization, and spur the development of the other guys, allow them to play more minutes in all situations.  Dalton Thrower might not be headed to the ECHL anymore.

And what could interest Marc Bergevin in return?  Might he want to take a superfluous leftie like Jamie Oleksiak off their hands, since they already have too many of those anyway?  That might be nice, everybody wins.

A more realistic, and more attractive target might be Brett Ritchie though.  A big right winger who can crash and bang  but has offensive talent and can produce, that would fill a few needs on our team.  He's had one season in the AHL, and did well there, he's getting close to the NHL, and could really help fill our hole on right wing.

He wouldn't come cheap, the Canadiens would have to ante up more than a Pateryn-level prospect or two, there'd have to be a package and it would sting a little bit, but what makes it feasible, in my mind at least, is that both teams have what the other needs, the trade pieces align very well.

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