Montreal Canadiens: Bergevin pulls a fast one and acquires Eric Staal

Feb 27, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Eric Staal (12) and Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (14) battle for position in from of Buffalo goaltender Carter Hutton (40) during the third period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

It was barely 24 hours after Marc Bergevin told the media that the Montreal Canadiens were not likely to do anything at the deadline. “We have no cap space, so it’s money in, money out,” he said. “Expectation to do something at the deadline is probably very unlikely.”

Apparently, the Habs had a little trick up their sleeve.

Canadiens acquire Eric Staal

From the Canadiens press release:

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced on Friday that the team has acquired Eric Staal from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for the club’s third and fifth-round picks in the 2021 NHL Draft. The Sabres will retain $1.625 million of Staal’s salary.

Staal, 36, suited up for 32 games with Buffalo this season, recording three goals and seven assists. In 17 seasons in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and the Sabres, the 6’04” and 195 lbs left-handed centerman amassed 1,031 points (439 goals, 592 assists) in 1,272 regular season games. A Stanley Cup champion with Carolina in 2006, Staal has 51 points, including 21 goals, in 62 playoff contests over the course of his NHL career.

nhl trade rumors sabres
Jan 30, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Eric Staal (12) waits for the face-off during the second period against the New Jersey Devils at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The easing of quarantine restriction helped

Darren Dreger confirmed yesterday with an NHL source that the Canadian government would ease quarantine rules. It was noted that it should help get the needle moving on trades and so it has. In a recent TSN’s Insider Trading, Frank Seravalli provided insight that the Leafs worked hard to get the quarantine time reduced to 7 days.

“After scouring the league I believe the Leafs primary target at this point is Nashville Predator forward Mikael Granlund,” he said. Seravalli did note the two aforementioned difficulties as Toronto is spearheading an effort to get the 14 day quarantine reduced to 7 days prior to making a trade with U.S. teams.

The Daily Goal Horn 3/24/21

Many insiders at the time were also suggesting that older players like Eric Staal may be unwilling to go to a Canadian team if they had to shut down for two weeks. It hurt Pierre-Luc Dubois moving from Columbus to Winnipeg and he’s only 22. It’s clear now that it may have changed Staal’s mind.