Monday, 13 October 2014

Should the Canadiens trade away Tomas Plekanec, 'Take 2'.

Here's a confession-mea culpa-explanation in this Age of "Pas d'excuses":

I was one of the people who thought we would/should trade Tomas Plekanec this off-season, or whenever the time was right. 

There.  I said it.

Now, allow me to squirm out of the icy grip of your contempt.

I wasn't advocating we 'get rid' of him, Stéphane Langdeau-style.  I actually thought he was the most valuable conceivable trade piece we had, a veteran centre in a time when every team is seeking depth at centre.  He also was a player playing a position we had a bit of a surplus at, and could be flipped for another at a position of penury (Top 6 winger).

One important reason also was my perception that Alex Galchenyuk needed to play at centre.  Now I would tut-tut those who said that he was being 'ruined' by playing on left wing, I thought he was still learning lots just playing a regular shift in the NHL at twenty years old, but you hear the concern about him not taking faceoffs so many times in our social media echo chamber that you start to believe it a little bit.

Once Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien made the rounds of the talk shows however, and proactively stated that Alex was a centre and would play that position in camp, and Marc Bergevin went further and explained that he wouldn't necessarily trade a centre away if Alex was felt to be ready to play there, since having depth at centre is a preferable situation to be in than to need one and be held hostage in trade talks, I was fully on board.  It's not, like some of us claimed, that the brain trust didn't see Alex at centre, were blind to it, but rather that they saw him as being in a progression, probably still playing at wing, but getting more icetime at centre depending on the situations.

I really like our situation at centre now.  We have David, Tomas, Lars and Manny Malhotra as the regulars right now, with Alex literally in the wings, ready to pitch in when necessary.  Obviously, Michel Therrien feels the same way too, trusting Manny much more than he did Ryan White or Daniel Brière, and the fourth line resultantly being deployed much more frequently, upwards of ten minutes a game so far.

And as we supposed, Tomas has been energized by his modified duties, shedding a significant chunk of his defensive minutes to Manny, and being able to focus on offence.  Further, being partnered with Alex and having jettisoned an increasingly ineffective Brian Gionta has meant we've seen a more spectacular Tomas, an imaginative version who we only saw in flashes lately, out of breath on a penalty kill breakaway, or passing the puck to the black hole on his left wing, be it Mathieu Darche or Travis Moen.

So, uh, kudos for not acting on my injunctions to trade Tomas Mr. Bergevin.  I'll stop trying to play Jerry Jones, I'll let you helm the ship.

For now.

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