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Spelling it out

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BUFFALO – On the eve of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Marc Bergevin wanted to be perfectly clear about one point, in particular.

With rumours aplenty swirling about P.K. Subban’s status in Montreal, the Canadiens’ general manager wasted little time on Thursday stressing his position with respect to the Norris Trophy winning defenseman potentially plying his trade elsewhere in the NHL ranks anytime soon.

“I’ve never shopped P.K. I’ve never done it and I'm not doing it. I can’t prevent other teams from calling me, though. That’s the reality of the situation. There will always be rumors. That’s the market in Montreal and that’s Canada. No matter what I say, the rumors will always be there. When other teams call, I listen, but I say no,” said Bergevin during his pre-draft press conference, referencing reports that the Canadiens’ No. 76 could very well be on the move. “What I find funny is that this is all about P.K. I don’t know why. All I’m saying is that we’ve received calls [about him].”

Taking those phone calls doesn’t bother Bergevin at all. He fully understands the intense interest in a player of Subban’s caliber. After all, the 27-year-old Toronto native is coming off his third consecutive 50-point campaign, one in which he also took part in the NHL All-Star Game for the very first time.

“He’s an All-Star defenseman. He’s extremely good. If I would be another team, I’d be calling, too,” cracked Bergevin, before adding that he’s perfectly comfortable with Subban continuing to be exactly who he is already – charismatic, flamboyant and a world-class athlete to boot. “There’s nothing wrong with having personality. We want players to be themselves. They’re not robots. As long as they perform on the ice, and do what they’re supposed to do as a team, we have no issues with that whatsoever.”

When it comes to the Canadiens’ opening-round pick in the No. 9 spot on Friday night, however, Bergevin isn’t ruling anything out in terms of possibly shaking things up in order to better his group heading into the 2016-17 campaign. The option is still there – for the right price, of course.

“There’s a possibility that I’ll trade our first pick [for immediate help], if the player can help us and he’s relatively young. Teams call, but there hasn’t been anything concrete,” confirmed Bergevin, who isn’t feeling any pressure at all to make a splash of some sort over the next few days in Western New York, especially with his All-World netminder set to return to active duty in a few months’ time. “I got some good news the other day that one of our best players is going to be back 100 percent. I think we’re a better team with Carey Price in net.”

Admittedly, if Bergevin holds steady and selects ninth, he doesn’t expect the young gun to be NHL ready as soon as October. That being said, he believes the newest addition to the Canadiens’ fold will undoubtedly be a top-notch prospect with plenty of potential going forward.

“We feel the player we’re going to get at nine is going to be a very good player for a long time. Is he going to be a franchise player? If you asked today, I’d say probably not,” concluded Bergevin, who insisted he’d be “shocked” to see a potential No. 9 pick ply his trade in Montreal this year. “But, we’ve seen players being drafted like Jamie Benn. He was a fifth-round pick. He’s a franchise player, so you never know what can happen.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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