What the Puck: Canadiens would be wise to trade Jake Allen if they can

Goaltender is clearly the odd man out in net and, though it won’t be easy, Montreal GM Kent Hughes should get whatever he can for him.

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Don’t expect any blockbuster deals from Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes come trade-deadline day.

The National Hockey League trade deadline is 3 p.m. Fri., March 8 and one of the biggest talking points among local hockey fans is what Habs management is going to do with its roster in the next week and change. Given that as of Wednesday afternoon your Montreal Canadiens were sitting seventh from the very bottom of the league, Hughes is going to be a seller and not a buyer in the coming days.

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We’re a long way from the bad old Marc Bergevin years where our pal Berg would virtually always be in shopping-spree mode because he went for it every year. OK often he was picking up third- and fourth-line spare parts at the deadline, but I digress. The point is Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes have a plan and it involves preaching patience and slowly building up a contender.

So they’ll probably try to trade any veterans who can bring either draft picks or prospects back in return. Sadly, the team doesn’t have much to entice buyers from the 31 other teams. I was speaking with hard-core Habs fan William Ayers at McLean’s Pub Tuesday just before that sleep-inducing Coyotes Habs matchup and Ayers, decked out in a powder-blue Cole Caufield jersey, quite rightly noted that the veterans with those terrible contracts signed by Bergevin aren’t likely to be moved.

“(Brendan) Gallagher is not tradable, the contract is way too heavy,” Ayers said. “(Josh) Anderson, we should’ve traded him last year. Now he can’t even hit the glass behind the net. He thinks the net is the netting above the boards. So we’re going to have to keep paying that money, but at least it’s (Geoff) Molson’s money, it’s not our money.”

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The only trade I think that would have any real impact is one involving Jake Allen or as Ayers quipped, Jacques Allen. But will there be any takers? Allen has been quite simply brutal this year. He has shown flashes of brilliance but he’s mostly been very bad, as his numbers underline. He has a 3.68 GAA and 0.892 save percentage.

I know it is borderline illegal in Montreal to ever suggest Hughes made a mistake, but he made one with that too-rich extension for Allen, which carries a cap hit of US$3.85 million. There is one more year on the deal and given his poor play this season, that will probably scare away most suitors.

By all accounts, he is a great team guy and has done much for the CH, but as we always point out when writing about the horrifying Gally deal, you don’t sign contracts based on previous play but rather based on what the player can give you going forward.

I’ve said it before but it needs repeating. This season’s three-goalie rotation is a disaster and it’s bad for the development of both Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau. Neither are getting enough starts. The only possible explanation for sticking with the three goalies is incompetence, which I don’t buy, or a deliberate attempt to tank.

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The scary thing is that if Allen isn’t dealt by the deadline, then Hughes will presumably stick with this rotation until the end of the season.

Here’s the thing. Yes it’s a rebuild, but there has to be some progress made. Most of us non Kool-Aid drinkers believe that has to begin next season, not in 2029. So you need to figure out your goaltending situation. I was listening to seasoned coach Bob Hartley on BPM Sports this week and he was saying that the goalie remains the most important position on the team.

You don’t need Patrick Roy, but you need an excellent goalie and the only way the Habs can figure out what they have in Monty and Primeau is by playing them way more frequently. Allen has no part to play in the relaunch of the Canadiens.

And it’s time to start planning that relaunch. The celebration of losing has to end. It’s enough. When Martin St. Louis said this week that the recent five-game losing streak was “the best sequence of five or six games we’ve played,” it’s time for the brain trust at the Bell Centre to go outside and breathe in some fresh air. I know the CH is not contending this year, but don’t celebrate losing under any circumstances.

The coach doesn’t need to be in a fury after a loss, but he is not allowed to say it’s just fine and dandy to lose. MSL has a way with words and I love his puck-philosopher shtick, but one of his main jobs right now is to make sure the core players of the coming relaunch don’t begin to believe it’s cool to lose, that’s it’s fun to laze around and wait for a high draft pick.

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