Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin faced a number of obvious roster issues in the three day period leading up to the trade deadline.
He addressed the Canadiens lack of firepower when he landed Thomas Vanek from the Islanders. Armed with the knowledge that Jsh Gorges’ broken hand could keep him out as long as six weeks, he traded a 5th rounder to Florida for veteran defenseman Mike Weaver. The Vanek and Weaver transactions were born of a clear and present roster need.
But, buried in the headlines by the Vanek deal was the transfer of Nashville goaltender Devan Dubnyk to the Canadiens and Hamilton Bulldogs in return for future considerations.
The way the Carey Price situation is unfolding this unheralded transaction may become as important to the Canadiens and their playoff hopes as Vanek.
At the time of last Wednesday’s deal, Price had already missed four games and had been placed on the injured reserve list with his “lower body” injury. It doesn’t take an engineering degree to draw a straight line between the Price injury and the Dubnyk acquisition.
NHL teams basically treat team injuries as none of the public’s business. I’m not so sure shutting out your fan base from that kind of information is the right thing to do, but that’s an argument for another day. What it does is promote speculation and rumour.
Here’s the little direct information we’ve been given. Carey Price has an injury located somewhere below his hip level and is officially listed as day-to-day. He’s been day-to-day for two weeks and seven games and counting. It is suspected that there is probably a groin issue and we might be looking more at week-to-week than day-to-day. Those who saw Price’s painful looking attempt to skate Saturday in San Jose will tell you, he’s still got a big problem. MRI’s have already told the Canadiens how severe the issue is. If it’s a minor strain, he could be out two weeks or so. Worse, and we could see a month. One thing is a given; there is no rushingshortcut when it comes to groin injuries.
With or without Price, the first goal of the team is to make the playoffs. Armed with the Price medical report, Bergevin decided to get some veteran insurance. There were ten NHL goaltenders moved at the trade deadline. Bergevin took Dubnyk. He added him to an already crowded Canadiens goaltending depth chart which can lead to only one conclusion; if it comes down to going without Price, the team has doubts that their backup, if called upon, has the ability to lead the team into the playoffs.
Is Dubnyk the man for the job?
I think most would agree, off what we saw last week, that Peter Dubaj is a better spot starter than a regular. While he has had some spectacular moments in his two recent appearances, at 5’11” Dustin Tokarski is a small man in a big goaltender’s world. Dubnyk is 6’6” and athletic. But it’s hard to accurately assess his ability after all of those years behind the dreadfully incompetent Oilers defense. Even so, you can’t discount 173 games of NHL experience and a .911 career save percentage.
After watching both of his appearances in Hamilton over the weekend I can say he goes about his business in a calm and professional manner. He lost both games, but he also was playing in only his third and fourth games in the last seven weeks.
At this point, Dubnyk is Marc Bergevin’s insurance policy. Another two weeks on injured reserve for Carey Price and the Canadiens will be forced to cash in the policy.