It's hard to ignore the Montreal Canadiens right now.
Their season is going south faster than the messages from Toronto to Steven Stamkos, and with almost as much hype and noise. Michel Therrien has seemingly lost all logical control in how he's dealing with the team (he's now openly throwing PK Subban under the bus in postgame press conferences, which is never a good way to make yourself popular in Quebec) and Marc Bergevin is under pressure to do something, anything, to stop the rot.
The logical thing to do would be to fire Therrien, something you may have seen our sister blog HabsEOTP mention would be a good idea.
However, Marc Bergevin isn't going to do that, because Bergevin has been loud and long in the support of his troubled coach throughout this season even as the team have gone south. Which means that he needs to find another way to either send a message to players or simply change the direction in Montreal.
This is good news for the rest of the NHL, including Boston.
Much as we're unlikely to see a trade within the division-things have got so desperate in Montreal we might see it.
After all, The trade deadline is coming up and today comes the news that the Montreal Canadiens front office are "gauging interest" on PK Subban as a trade piece
As we've already discussed - th.is might be a good thing for Boston to take a look at.
However, there are "lesser" pieces in Montreal that might well allow the Bruins to go picking at a cheaper price, claiming to have what Montreal want in return. Pieces like Tomas Fleischmann ($750,000/year), or Devante Smith-Pelly (600,000/year).
With the Habs also looking desperately for a defenseman to add to a unit that's...well, looking for some stability, they could do worse than players like Dennis Seidenberg right now. Apart from anything, with Andrei Markov aging like a cheap supermarket wine and the Habs seemingly accepting that they are going to be bad this season, Bergevin might be open to a stopgap deal that will buy him a little time. With the Habs also containing a whole heap of RFAs and UFAs this offseason and Jeff Petry's contract sitting there like an anchor, the Habs need to work themselves out of a hole.
The main thing arguing against this is-well, exactly that. The cap space. Players like Adam McQuaid are likely not going to interest the Habs unless they can get rid of equal salary in return or tighten up on an expiring deal, which means that the Bruins may need to look short-term. However, players like Tom Gilbert - on a short-term UFA deal - might be the kind of player that the Habs can be tempted into giving up for a similar player with a little more offensive upside...one like, say, Seidenberg.
Then there's the prospect carrot to dangle. Bergevin knows he's rebuilding and knows that the Bruins have a LOT of strong prospects. Moving someone like Alex Khoklachev for a piece like Fleischmann is something the Bruins should at least take a shot at - the cap hit is negligible in terms of difference and Fleischmann is likely to instantly improve the B's while allowing them an option to extend in the offseason if it works out well at a relatively cheap price. Moving the same piece for someone like Paul Byron does even more.
The Montreal Canadiens are a perfect storm of a bad team in a horrendously unforgiving market and a GM desperately trying to find a way to fix it. In this situation, GMs are far more desperate than they might be in calmer situations - as shown by the fact there's even a consideration to trade a franchise superstar.
While the PK Subban to Boston dream is one that would require more luck than one team probably deserves to become a reality (although we can still at least see a way through it) the Habs are wounded and bleeding, desperately looking for a quick fix to heal and willing to try anything.
This is the kind of situation that should have the Bruins front office circling Don Sweeney with smiles ready to offer a deal. Especially if they can sell it so that it looks like the Habs win in the short term.
The ruthless win in the NHL...and with their biggest enemy down and desperately looking for help from any quarter, the Bruins should be poised to plunder any asset they can.
After all, it's not personal. It's just hockey.