Four Canadian teams are in playoff position right now – the Montreal Canadiens

Point Shots: Another Goalie Controversy Brews in Vancouver; What Will Montreal, Winnipeg Do at the Trade Deadline?

Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack are both getting starts for the Canucks, while the Jets and Canadiens eye forwards for a Cup run.

First off, best wishes to Ottawa Senators system goalie Andrew Hammond – the former Surrey Eagle and usual Binghamton Senators starter will make his NHL debut tonight, Wednesday, against the Montreal Canadiens.

Hammond has appeared in two NHL games in his career, the last one a couple nights ago when Robin Lehner left with an injury. So will the rookie be seeing some more time in Ottawa’s crease, and does he have a legitimate chance to win the No. 1 job?

Not long-term, maybe. But Craig Anderson is out indefinitely with a hand injury – and the Sens aren’t a playoff team this year – so you never know.

Hammond told the Ottawa Citizen that his parents are “too nervous” to attend the game, and will watching his first professional start on TV.

from the Peace Arch News, in 2013:

“Winning the Royal Bank Cup (with the Vernon Vipers) is still my best memory… Signing with Ottawa is very exciting but I still haven’t accomplished anything. My goal is to play in the NHL and all this does is give me an opportunity to get closer to that goal.”

Another Goalie Controversy in Vancouver

Let’s get something straight: there’s really nothing controversial about Eddie Lack starting over Ryan Miller.

For the majority over 82 games? Maybe.

But once in a while, and when Lack is hot and Miller’s struggling? Well, what else is a backup for?

When Miller signed his three-year, $18 million deal with the Canucks last summer, he was very openly excited to play between 55 and 60 games a season. Well, now in the middle of February, Miller has played 42 games and still has two months of a season left. So he’s right on track to get the rest he wanted.

And the Canucks, for all their occasional narcolepsy and their absolutely consistent inconsistency, are a playoff team. Miller hasn’t been at his worst when Lack relieves him every now and then. He’s 34 years old and he’s played a ton of hockey since 2006 – he could use a night off and he could probably do without everyone in his new Canadian city acting like there’s some sort of usurping afoot.

Another Trade in Winnipeg?

The Winnipeg Jets pulled off the deal of the season last week with the Buffalo Sabres, sending Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian to middle-of-nowhere New York for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, two prospects, and a first-round pick.

Well, seven days after GM Kevin Cheveldayoff popped his cherry with that one – his first-ever player-for-player, midseason trade since he took over the reigns in Manitoba, in 2011 – he may have to look afield for help again.

Forward Mathieu Perreault, who’s been one of the NHL’s more pleasant individual surprises this season, and Stafford, the new guy, are both out with injuries. And the Jets, who are quite deep, talented, big, and fast when healthy, now face a stretch run without Kane, Bogosian, or one of the pieces they pulled back in return.

Read: ‘Kane deal could be just the start for Jets‘ by Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press (Feb. 12, 2015)

Would Antoine Vermette be a fit?

Could Chevy go back to Buffalo and pry Chris Stewart from their hands? If Vancouver’s really serious about moving Zack Kassian, or maybe if they’re up to trading Shawn Matthias or Chris Higgins, is there something there? Mike Santorelli’s already been moved to Nashville, but Daniel Winnik – and Olli Jokinen, perhaps – is available from Toronto, maybe Tyler Bozak.

Alex Semin’s the scariest guy in the NHL to tie your hitch to. Jaromir Jagr wants to stay out East, and he wants to go to a legit Cup contender – Winnipeg is neither, not right now. If you reach for Martin Erat or Danny Briere, you’re probably just applying collagen to old, dead lips.

On defence, Winnipeg’s fine. Maybe not set set, but they’re full. In goal, maybe you could do better than Michael Hutchinson, but you won’t do better than him at the Trade Deadline.

Et Toi?

Where are the Montreal Canadiens, mentally, right now?

They’re buyers if they’re anything. Because they’re right there atop the East, and it’s hard to imagine they’ll drop at all or by a lot. The temptation must be, for Montreal, that they don’t have to make a move to remain a contender – and that Thomas Vanek deal probably left a sour ‘deadline’ taste in La Belle Province’s mouth last year, although Vanek had 25 points in 35 late- and post-season games for the Habs in 2014.

The best fit is perhaps Vermette. He’s available from Phoenix, he’s offensively capable, individually gifted, but he’s also a terrific faceoff man, a stable centreman, and he’s a cog any team’s clock could use.

Read: ‘18 Players and Where They’ll Land at the NHL Trade Deadline‘ by Mike Colligan, The Hockey Writers (February 16, 2015)

If Ryan O’Reilly or Jagr or Winnik are attainable, it’s not like they’re going to hurt the Habs. And it’s not like they’ll disappoint anyone – each of those guys has passed every test they’ve faced so far, especially Jagr, who’s a Hall of Famer.

But you do have to wonder whether it’s worth it for a team like Montreal to make a move that might mortgage whatever they’ve been building for. It’s hard to find a perfect fit-type trade like the one Winnipeg and Buffalo pulled off – or like the one Vancouver found with Anaheim, sending Kesler to Orange County last June – in March, because the sellers are keeping their prices high and the buyers are aware of all the cautionary tales the Trade Deadline’s known for, historically.

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