With the NHL trade deadline less than two weeks away, we have been taking a look at the situations with each of the seven Canadian clubs. The Montreal Canadiens have slipped into our hot seat on Wednesday.
The Situation: The Canadiens four-year playoff string is in serious jeopardy this year ... The famed organization has authored quite a soap opera this season with Andrei Markov not being ready to play, assistant coach Perry Pearn and later head coach Jacques Martin being fired. There was the controversial appointment of English-speaking coach Randy Cunneyworth and the trading of Mike Cammalleri mid-game as well as spats between players, and coaches and players in practice ... Hard to believe the Habs are only two years removed from upsetting the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the East final ... Montreal may still see the return of Markov from his knee problems later this season, but we'll believe it when we see it ... Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier has brought in Tomas Kaberle, Rene Bourque and Petteri Nokelainen through trades this season, but, like the Martin firing, there has been little impact with these moves ... Hal Gill, Travis Moen and Chris Campoli have been the most-often mentioned trade candidates to be moved by Gauthier. (Editor's note: Gill was moved on Feb. 17 to Nashville in a deal that netted Blake Geoffrion)
Playoff hopes: 12th in the East, seven points behind eighth-place Toronto. With the Maple Leafs struggling, the Habs have an outside chance if they can build on their recent 4-1-0 run.
Schedule: 25 games remaining (11 home, 14 road).
At Home: Boston, New Jersey, Dallas, Minnesota, Toronto, Ottawa, N.Y. Islanders, Ottawa, Florida, Tampa Bay, Toronto.
On the Road: Buffalo, Washington, Florida, Tampa Bay, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Buffalo, Ottawa, Buffalo, Philadelphia, N.Y. Rangers, Washington, Carolina.
Restricted free agents: Lars Eller, Aaron Palushaj, Ryan White, Mike Blunden, Petteri Nokelainen, Alexei Emelin, Raphael Diaz, P.K. Subban, Carey Price.
Unrestricted free agents: Andrei Kostitsyn, Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche, Hal Gill, Chris Campoli.
No-trade clauses: Scott Gomez (modified), Tomas Plekanec (modified), Brian Gionta, Rene Bourque (modified), Andrei Markov (modified).
Cap space: $10.78 million US
On the farm: Plenty of the organization's prospects have enjoyed stints with the Canadiens this year. But the one guy who deserves an extended look may be centre Andreas Engqvist. The 24-year-old was signed as a free agent out of Djurgardens in 2010 after he played for Sweden at the world championship. But he has dressed for only 13 games for the Habs over the past season-and-a-half.
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