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Despite Price injury, lengthy struggles, playoffs remain goal

Canadiens NHL Trade Deadline outlook

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, NHL.com is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the Montreal Canadiens:

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Record: 27-25-4, 58 points; 5th in Atlantic Division, 5th in Eastern Conference Wild Card

Unrestricted free agents: Dale Weise, RW; Paul Byron, LW; Tomas Fleischmann, LW; Tom Gilbert, D; Ben Scrivens, G

Restricted free agents: Devante Smith-Pelly, RW; Daniel Carr, LW; Sven Andrighetto, LW; Lucas Lessio, LW; Mark Barberio, D

Projected 2016 draft picks: 7 (1 first)

Projected 2017 draft picks: 7 (1 first)

Needs: Top-six right wing, power forward

Surpluses: Depth forwards and defensemen

Players Potentially in Play: Smith-Pelly, Weise, Gilbert, Alexei Emelin.

Likely status: Buyer

Skinny: General manager Marc Bergevin has the same goal at the beginning of every season: get to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A postseason spot appeared to be a given when Montreal won its first nine games and started 19-4-3. The Canadiens sustained their torrid pace despite losing goalie Carey Price, winner of the 2015 Hart and Vezina trophies, to a lower-body injury Oct. 29. Price returned after nine games but was re-injured Nov. 25, the same day Bergevin signed a contract extension that runs through 2021-22. Rookie goalie Mike Condon started 9-2-3, including the first three games after Price was injured the second time. Then the Canadiens lost 21 of their next 26 games (5-20-1). In the midst of the prolonged slump, Bergevin gave his players and coach Michel Therrien a complete vote of confidence, placed the full blame on himself, and reiterated he would not sacrifice the future for a short-term fix. But earning a playoff spot now will depend in large measure on a strong return by Price, who was expected to miss six weeks but has yet to take to the ice in full equipment. When it became clear Price's recovery would take longer than predicted, Bergevin acquired goalie Ben Scrivens from the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 28. Scrivens lost his first four starts but helped Montreal to a three-game winning streak Jan. 6-9, its first consecutive wins since late November. Buyer or seller? As long as Bergevin believes the Canadiens have an opportunity to make the playoffs, he will cautiously do what he can to improve their odds of achieving that goal.  

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