VANCOUVER — The Montreal Canadiens are not ready to mortgage their future to make a push to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, general manager Marc Bergevin said Monday.
“I don’t believe that I could make a trade today or tomorrow to get assets that would make us a Stanley Cup team,” Bergevin said ahead of the Canadiens’ seven-game road trip, starting Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.
“There’s not one player that you could say ‘I’m going to bring him in and now for sure you’re in the playoffs,’ and the return you have to give to get those type of players, to me, it would be too much.”
The Canadiens (15-12-6) are tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division. Montreal lost 2-1 to the Detroit Red Wings, in last place in the Eastern Conference, on Saturday and is 4-5-1 in its past 10 games. Bergevin said he isn’t willing to “pay an arm and a leg” to upgrade, even if it means missing the playoffs for a third straight season.
“I will not mortgage the future of this team just hoping to make the playoffs because again, I can’t sit here today to tell you that I’m going to make one move that’s guarantee us to make the playoff and I’m going to sell the farm for it,” Bergevin said.
Asked about his biggest disappointments, Bergevin pointed to an 8-8-3 home record and 27th-ranked penalty kill (76.0 percent).
“Are we more stressed at home? Do we squeeze the stick too tight trying to be pretty? I don’t know why but it needs to be better,” Bergevin said. “Our PK needs to be better and for us to stay in the fight, to make playoffs, we need to be more consistent.”
Montreal is 15th in the NHL in goals with 103. Forward Max Domi has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 33 games after he had an NHL career-high 72 points (28 goals, 44 assists) in 82 games last season, his first with the Canadiens.
“If I compare him to the Max of last year, he was playing more of a north-south game,” Bergevin said. “When any players try to be more fancy, try to make cute plays, doesn’t matter if it’s Max or somebody else, usually it doesn’t turn out well.”
As for the rotation of backup goalies behind Carey Price this season, Bergevin said Charlie Lindgren will continue in the job after replacing 20-year-old Cayden Primeau, who was sent back to Laval in the American Hockey League on Saturday despite a .931 save percentage in his first two NHL starts.
Bergevin also hasn’t given up on Keith Kincaid, who signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract on July 1 to be the backup, but went 1-1-3 with an .875 save percentage before being sent to the AHL on Dec. 3.
“I’m not ruling out him coming back but right now he needs some mileage to get his confidence back,” Bergevin said.