The Toronto Maple Leafs had a good plan ahead of the trade deadline as they were getting ready to head into the postseason, looking for a much longer run than they finally got. The Boston Bruins unfortunately eliminated the Leafs in seven games, and now Toronto is left looking at what went wrong and how to fix it for next season. While the Maple Leafs did not address their issues on the back end, they did manage to acquire a veteran forward, who ended up winning important face-offs at crucial times, in Tomas Plekanec.
However, when Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin traded Plekanec to the Maple Leafs on the trade deadline, there was some indication that he intended to bring him back with the Habs during the summer when he wast set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
And it all makes sense now: first of all, the Habs GM traded the veteran forward just a few hours from his home in Montreal, allowing him to stay close to his family without having to move them. Then he waited at the last minute before completing the deal, making it impossible for Plekanec to play his 1000th career game with Montreal this year. It may be all worth it for the 35-year-old.
The Canadiens absolutely need to fill that void down at centre, and could certainly have a place for Plekanec at training camp, if the Czech player accepts a pay cut and a more defensive role with the team. Once again, Plekanec managed to prove how good he could be during the postseason, and how his experience is a valuable one for young players growing in the National Hockey League.
In an interview this morning on the Destination Coupe Stanley AM show on TVA Sports, Plekanec made a major statement about his immediate future, saying his priority this summer was to sign a new contract with the Canadiens:
"Of course, as I said before, my priority is to play for the Montreal Canadiens. But I do not know what will happen. I do not know the plans of Marc (Bergevin) and Claude Julien. So everything is open from now until July 1st. My heart is in Montreal. As I said, my priority is Montreal. [...] But things can happen differently. ''
Plekanec also reitirated his desire to play his 1000th game with the Canadiens, where he all began for him after he was selected in the third round, 71st overall by Montreal in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
"It would be incredible. It would be an accomplishment, something I never dreamed of when I was a child. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been part of the teams in the two largest markets in Canada or around the world. I am a lucky person."
Let's see if his luck keeps going on the opening day of free-agent market...