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Canadiens trade for size rather than add offense

GM Marc Bergevin hoping slumping players will rediscover early-season form

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / Senior Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens moved in a different direction over the summer, and general manager Marc Bergevin continued down that path before the NHL Trade Deadline.

In the 48 hours prior to the 3 p.m. deadline Wednesday, Bergevin acquired defensemen Jordie Benn from the Dallas Stars and Brandon Davidson from the Edmonton Oilers, and forwards Steve Ott from the Detroit Red Wings, Dwight King from the Los Angeles Kings and Andreas Martinsen from the Colorado Avalanche.

The average height of that group is 6-foot-2. The average weight is 210 pounds.

When Bergevin acquired defenseman Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators for P.K. Subban on June 29, it was a signal he wanted the Canadiens to be a bigger, meaner team.

Video: Canadiens acquire Dwight King from Kings

That is what he has continued to do.

"The trade deadline is a time you can fill your needs, and internally we wanted to fill the need of adding big, physical players without losing any speed," Bergevin said. "So we didn't lose speed and we added some size to our team."

The Canadiens added that size by giving up defenseman Greg Pateryn, center David Desharnais, forward Sven Andrighetto, a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 and a sixth-round pick in 2018. They still have five second-round picks over the next two drafts.

Size has been considered a deficiency for the Canadiens since long before Bergevin arrived as GM in 2012, but what could have been considered a bigger problem lately would be a lack of scoring.

The Canadiens scored 21 goals in 13 games in February, going 5-7-1 without winning any in regulation time. Only four forwards -- Max Pacioretty (7 goals), Alex Galchenyuk (4), Alexander Radulov (3) and Andrew Shaw (2) -- scored goals in that time.

Bergevin is hoping the three-game winning streak the Canadiens ended the month on will help restore the team's confidence and get more players to produce offensively.

"We definitely looked at trying to add some production, but you saw [Wednesday] nothing like that really moved," Bergevin said. "I feel comfortable that our guys are getting more confidence as we move forward and they'll be able to chip in. Down the road there'll be those one-goal games, those 2-1 hockey games, 1-0, 3-2. It's a tight league and it's going to be even more down the road."

That sounds like the type of hockey the players Bergevin acquired are made to play, particularly King.

An impending unrestricted free agent, King has two Stanley Cup rings from his time in Los Angeles and matured in a system that emphasized physical hockey.

Video: Canadiens acquire Martinsen for Andrighetto

"Puck possession and defensive, hard hockey is what I tend to bring," King said. "Just try to chip in where I can and play where the coach wants me to play."

Martinsen felt the same way.

"I'm just going to play my game and bring some size and physicality and try to be a really good bottom six player," he said.

Neither sound like they will solve the Canadiens scoring problems anytime soon.

Even if games get tighter between now and the Stanley Cup Playoffs as Bergevin said, an argument can be made that makes having proven scorers that much more important because they can score that decisive goal when it's needed.

The Canadiens forwards, other than the ones who scored in February, have gone dry for a length of time that should be of some concern. Brendan Gallagher has scored one goal in 24 games, Tomas Plekanec has one in 21 games, Phillip Danault has one in 22 games, Paul Byron has one in 20 games and Torrey Mitchell hasn't scored in 37 games.

All were producing when the Canadiens shot out of the gate with a 13-1-1 record to start the season, but it would be surprising to see all of them find that scoring touch again all at once.

That is nonetheless what Bergevin appears to hope will happen as the Canadiens build their confidence playing a new system under coach Claude Julien.

"We need all our guys that had success earlier in the year to go back and start chipping in offensively like they did and we'll be in good shape," Bergevin said.

The question is, what kind of shape will the Canadiens be in if that doesn't happen?

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