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Bold trade brewing between the Habs and Kings?

When an early playoff exit changes everything...

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The Montreal Canadiens were quite ahead this postseason - only in one aspect - when it came down to evaluating what went wrong and how to fix the many issues in time for next season. As fans now realize, the Los Angeles Kings weren't far behind, despite clinching a playoff spot this spring. Unfortunately, L.A. did not manage to win a game in their first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights, who swept them in four contests to advance to Round 2 where they will face off against the San Jose Sharks. 

And here is where the Canadiens and Kings meet now. Earlier this season, the two teams completed a trade in which the Habs sent forward Torrey Mitchell to the Kings in return for a conditional fifth round pick in this summer's NHL draft. While this transaction was somewhat minor, it now appears that both teams could be working on another trade. And a much bolder one. 

For months ahead of the trade deadline, there was chatter that Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty would be on the move. However, the deadline came and went and Pacioretty remained with the team, only to miss the last weeks of the regular calendar with a knee injury. Some believed it would quiet the trade rumors, however, they haven't stopped. 

"The current market could change with the results from the series," noted Habs general manager Marc Bergevin earlier this month. "Some of the 16 teams in the playoffs could get eliminated early on and some players who aren't available now could become available this summer."

They seem to make more sense now that there are reports that the Kings are looking to move some core players to get a better offensive boost. Pacioretty would certainly fill that void, but pundits wonder who the Habs could land in return for their captain. One man on Twitter suggested a trade option that now seems to make more and more sense. 

Rumors circulating between the Kings and the Canadiens saw the Habs get their hands on the young center player Gabe Vilardi, first-round pick (11th overall) in 2017, in a deal that would send Pacioretty to Los Angeles. If by the deadline Kings management was not ready to include Vilardi, one of their best prospects, maybe their lastest performance in the postseason could make them change their minds and suddenly be more flexible in their negotiations. 

It will be interesting to see if the talks will suddenly hit a stride between the two teams.