Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban speaks to reporters at a news conference to promote youth hockey Thursday, July 31, 2014 in Brossard, Que. The Canadiens have agreed to terms on an eight-year deal with Subban.
©THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
You know the Montreal Canadiens' season has gone awry when trade rumors arise regarding one of their best players.
In this instance, Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien blaming defenceman P.K. Subban for a costly late-game giveaway Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche generated speculation of a rift between the two.
Two days later, TVA Sports' Louis Jean cited a league executive claiming Subban had come up in the trade market. His report fanned disbelief among most hockey followers, while some engaged in wild trade scenarios for Subban. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin moved quickly to kill the speculation, telling Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman he had no plans to trade his top skater.
That doesn't mean Bergevin won't be a seller by the Feb. 29 trade deadline, but he won't be shopping a core player like Subban. Pending free agents like defenceman Tom Gilbert and forwards Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann are expected to hit the trade block.
While Subban's future in Montreal remains assured, the same cannot be said for Therrien. While Bergevin recently stated there wouldn't be a coaching change this season, the Habs' ongoing struggles suggests he'll be fired if the club misses the playoffs. However, with superstar goaltender Carey Price sidelined since November with a knee injury, Bergevin could use use his absence as justification to give Therrien another chance.
The Toronto Maple Leafs trading now-former captain Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators two weeks ago caught many NHL followers by surprise. After all, the Leafs and Sens play in the same division and are longtime rivals.
However, the Senators were on Phaneuf's list of preferred trade destinations. Desperate to reach the playoffs this season, they're hoping the 30-year-old defenceman can provide much-needed experienced depth to their blueline. The Sens also had three players (defenceman Jared Cowen and forwards Milan Michalek and Colin Greening) they were keen to clear from their books.
By swapping Phaneuf for three players with a year left on their contracts, the Leafs cleared $7 million in annual salary-cap space beyond 2016-17. That gives them more long-term cap flexibility to put toward adding talented depth to their rebuilding lineup via trades or free agency.
Last week saw ageless Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr reach two notable offensive milestone. On Saturday, he scored his 742nd career NHL goal to pass Hall of Famer Brett Hall into third place on the league's all-time goal-scoring list.
Earlier in the week, Jagr became only the fourth NHL player to score a goal after turning 44, joining legends Gordie Howe, Chris Chelios and Doug Harvey. On pace this season for 30 goals and 60 points, he's outperforming players half his age.
Jagr's performance is more than just a feel-good story about a player still playing well in the twilight of his career. He's also the Panthers' leading scorer and a mentor to young stars like Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov. Thanks to his experience and leadership, the Panthers stand an excellent chance of clinching a playoff berth.