Before letting Jesperi Kotkaniemi leave for the Carolina Hurricanes, then moving draft picks to the Arizona Coyotes for Christian Dvorak, the Montreal Canadiens did a lot of digging, made a handful of phone calls, and scrambled to find a solution to a problem that was thrust upon them. In other words, during the most recent episode of the 31 Thoughts podcast , NHL insider Elliotte Friedman revealed Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin looked at a number of options before landing on Dvorak.
Friedman called it a “mad scramble” to find a center after it seemed clear that Kotkaniemi was no longer in their long-term future plans. The insider notes:
“[Bergevin] spent a week scrambling, or figuring out, what he was going to do at center. We said last Saturday when we taped the podcast that we thought there was a legitimate chance that Montreal wouldn’t match. As the week went on I began to believe more and more that they weren’t going to match, which is what they obviously did, but then you know you’re sitting there and you’re looking at your roster… you can’t just say ‘Ok we’re letting Kotkaniemi go and we’re done’ they had to have an alternate plan.”
Friedman added, “I think they went after a few guys, I think they asked about obviously [Tomas] Hertl, obviously Dvorak, I wouldn’t be surprised if they asked Washington about [Evgeny] Kuznetsov but it didn’t make any sense because they are in win-now mode… I’m sure they asked Calgary about [Sean] Monahan.”
All three of these players have been rumored as potentially available. The Sharks are waiting to talk contract extension with Hertl until the season plays itself out for the organization. The Capitals would love to trade Kuznetzov, but his price tag and off-ice issues might have posed a challenge for Montreal. Monahan is rumored to be available out of Calgary, but the Flames likely want a roster player in return.
Dvorak made the most sense for the Canadiens because he was locked into a contract, his price wasn’t outrageous and the ask, while a bit high, was only draft picks.