Earlier today, Habs general manager Marc Bergevin acquired forward Devante Smith-Pelly from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange of forward Jiri Sekac. Smith-Pelly, 22 years old, has played 129 NHL games, keeping a scoring record of 14 goals and 26 assists for 40 points as well as 30 penalty minutes. He has also appeared in 12 playoff games, scoring 5 goals. As for Sekac, also 22 years old, he has started 50 NHL games, scoring 7 goals and adding 9 assists for 16 points, while spending 18 minutes in the penalty box. Was the move worth it? What does that imply for the Montreal Canadiens future? Would have it been better to keep Sekac? I personally think it is a great trade for both teams and here’s why.
Anaheim is getting a talented forward who has never been able to find his niche here in Montreal. Sure he has only been with the Habs for 50 games: however, he has struggled to align two solid back-to-back performances. I admit he was used to a light schedule, having played in the KHL before; however, he should have been a little more steady. Therrien used him a couple times on a second line, as well as a third line. He gave him some chances. Maybe not enough will you say, and I’ll have to agree with this to some extent. However, we must keep in mind Sekac is pretty frail (6′, 174-lb) and Montreal has an over-abundance of small players. In Anaheim, he will be able to prove himself on one of the top two lines, replacing either Patrick Maroon, Emerson Etem or Kyle Palmieri, with Matt Beleskey on the shelf right now.
In Smith-Pelly (6′, 222-lb), the Canadiens are getting a strong and physical forward who just loves to spend most of his game in front of the opposing goalie, just like Gallagher. In terms of bodychecks, DSP is currently leading Montreal’s roster with a total of 147 bodychecks, ten short of Alexei Emelin (who is still injured, which is why I am not counting him). With the playoffs starting in about a month or so, this is a pretty good time to add some muscle, especially if the Habs were to play against Boston, Philadelphia or New York for example. Will the newly acquired player be able to play on the top two lines ? I doubt so. We never know, but I highly doubt he will. However, he will be a great addition to the 3rd or 4th line, especially with Bournival (5’11”, 196-lb) and Thomas (5’09”, 176-lb). It will also give Bergevin an option to trade the enigmatic Lars Eller, since De La Rose has pretty much acquired the 3rd line center spot. We must also not forget DSP already knows some of his new teammates, having played in the World Junior Championship with Bournival, Gallagher and Beaulieu.
It is also worth nothing Bergevin will save just a little north of $500,000 in salary. Is he planning to open up some money for a bigger trade? There is a pretty solid defenseman in Toronto named Roman Polak that would be a great addition to Montreal’s defensive squad and word is there could be talks ongoing involving Bournival and Thomas. Even if it’s just a rumor, things are definitely getting interesting.
All in all, I think this is a pretty fair trade for both teams. Only time will tell who will have the edge on that move, but we must keep in mind this is currently not a major trade. So what do you guys think? Would you have given Sekac more time to prove what he is worth? Do you think getting Smith-Pelly means Eller is on the move?
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