NEWARK - While Marc Bergevin's cell phone was ringing leading up to the trade deadline, the Canadiens' general manager wasn't about to break up his current group.
Bergevin completed just one transaction on Monday, acquiring forward Jordan Weal from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Michael Chaput.
"Given what the team has done since the beginning of the season, I think they've exceeded all expectations. It's a group that believes in themselves," affirmed Bergevin, when he met the media prior to the tilt against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. "There isn't any reason why they shouldn't keep on going in the same direction and make the playoffs… I really like the team spirit. I like what I see, the way they are together. I didn't want to move away from that."
Video: Marc Bergevin on the Habs' trade deadline activities
The price to acquire big guns from around the League was also far too high for Bergevin's liking. Time and again, he has stressed his preference to avoid sacrificing the Habs' future in exchange for short-term help, and he stayed true to that philosophy once again.
"It was the same names that kept on coming up. We weren't going to consider that at all," affirmed Bergevin, who identified the likes of youngsters Ryan Poehling and Alexander Romanov as primary targets of opposing general managers. "That was a non-starter."
The conversation was equally brief when teams asked for rookie sensation Jesperi Kotkaniemi in return to make a deal work.
Bergevin wasn't about to acquiesce, of course.
"The discussion was very short," cracked Bergevin. "I had to pinch myself to make sure that I heard the right name."
Later on during his press conference, he reiterated his faith in the youngsters the Canadiens have in their fold.
He is adamant that they really are the organization's key to long-term success.
"I did a lot of travel this year. I went to Finland. I just came back from Russia. I was at the World Junior Hockey Championship for two weeks. I follow those guys closely. Our staff has worked hard to evaluate our young players. Not all of them will play, but we have a good group," insisted Bergevin. "We're confident that we'd like to build our future with our kids. We have 10 or 11 picks that are coming in the NHL Draft. I think we're leading the organization in the right direction for the future."
With respect to Poehling, Bergevin didn't rule out the possibility of the St. Cloud State University standout joining the Canadiens once his NCAA campaign comes to a close.
"The decision will be made when he finishes his season," mentioned Bergevin. "It's a big jump from college to the NHL, especially at that point in the year. But, it's still too early to say."
On the subject of Weal, Bergevin qualified his addition as a depth move that can give head coach Claude Julien and his staff another option up the middle.
"He's a right-handed center," said Bergevin. "We have Phil [Danault], who is left-handed. We have Max [Domi], who is left-handed. [Nate] Thompson is also left-handed and so is KK [Jesperi Kotkaniemi]. It gives the coaches another tool, if they want a righty for faceoffs."
Bergevin also updated the status of defenseman Noah Juulsen, who is sidelined indefinitely with a vision-related issue.
"He's with the team in Montreal. He hasn't played in a long time. I would be very surprised if he played again this season, but I have no doubt that he'll be back at 100 percent for next year," explained Bergevin. "There definitely aren't any issues for next season."