BROSSARD - General manager Marc Bergevin spent the last couple of days making the Canadiens a tougher team to play against, adding more size and physicality to complement their speed and skill.
After acquiring stay-at-home defenseman Jordie Benn on Monday, and adding rearguard Brandon Davidson and pesky forward Steve Ott late Tuesday, Bergevin capped off his trade deadline maneuvering by securing the services of towering forwards Dwight King and Andreas Martinsen on Wednesday, as clubs across the League got their rosters in order for the stretch drive.
Ninety minutes after the 3 p.m. EST deadline expired, Bergevin met the media at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, making it perfectly clear that adding substantial grit and toughness was a top priority internally.
"Trade deadline is a time where you try to meet your needs. We wanted more physical players and guys with size, without losing speed. We didn't lose any and we managed to add size and weight to our team," explained Bergevin, who parted ways with Greg Pateryn, David Desharnais and Sven Andrighetto, along with three total draft picks, in order to pick up some potentially key pieces going forward.
"The opportunity presented itself to pick those guys up and I was looking to address those needs, in particular," added Bergevin, who also sought to lend his offensive guns a helping hand by way of these transactions. "We have good smaller players, but I tried to surround them with guys with size."
Video: Marc Bergevin on his trade deadline moves
While Ott is the shortest of Bergevin's acquisitions at six feet tall, the Canadiens' GM insists that he brings a variety of assets to the table that made him an attractive commodity for any club looking to up its toughness factor by a significant margin at this critical time of the year.
"He's a player Kirk Muller had with him in St. Louis. I received some good reports on him. Faceoffs, character, killing penalties, sandpaper," praised Bergevin, who picked up the 34-year-old veteran from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2018. "Right now, we're allowed to have more than 23 players on our roster. I don't know how we're going to use him, but he has a lot of intangibles that you just can't see on the scoresheet."
That includes extensive playoff experience, which is something King - a two-time Stanley Cup winner in both 2012 and 2014 - brings along with him from the Los Angeles Kings, in addition to a noticeable 6-foot-4, 229-pound frame, of course.
"Dwight King played in LA. He's a player who can move up and down the lineup. He's played with [Anze] Kopitar at times this year. He's won two Stanley Cups. I'm sure he could chip in offensively, too," said Bergevin, on the subject of the former 109th overall selection in 2007, who boasts 69 postseason appearances and comes to the Canadiens with eight goals and 15 points in 63 games so far this season. "The goal with players like King and Ott is also to help us in terms of playoff experience."
As for shipping Andrighetto to Colorado, Bergevin explained that the move ultimately became possible with the steady progress of young gun Charles Hudon and the strong play of Chris Terry so far this season with the AHL's St. John's IceCaps. The bulk of the questioning, however, revolved squarely around Hudon and his immediate future with the Canadiens.
"If you look at good young NHL players today, they spend time in the AHL. Charles was hurt this year. That slowed him down. Maybe if he hadn't been hurt, he might be with the big club. Over the last two months, though, he's been far more consistent. There isn't one player who you can say spent too much time in the AHL. In fact, you often say that they might've come up too quickly. A guy like [Tomas] Plekanec played three full seasons in the AHL, so I don't have any problem leaving a player there for a longer period of time," explained Bergevin, who isn't ruling out giving Hudon another shot in Montreal sometime this season. "I won't bring him up just to sit in the stands, though."
Hudon's status aside, now that the trade deadline has come and gone - and the Canadiens' roster has remained relatively intact - Bergevin is adamant that it's up to the group as a whole to keep building upon their recent success. That includes finding ways to generate the type of offense that got them off to such a strong start back in mid-October, before things recently went downhill as goals became increasingly hard to come by for the better part of February.
"We need all of our guys who had success earlier in the year to go back and start chipping in offensively like they did before," stressed Bergevin. "We expect that with our confidence steadily coming back, that things will continue in that direction and we'll be productive again… I feel comfortable that our guys are getting more confidence as we move forward."