In case you missed it, earlier today the Montreal Canadiens traded forward Tomas Plekanec, along with Laval Rocket forward Kyle Baun, to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Kerby Rychel, Rinat Valiev and a 2nd round pick
According to a report from TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the Habs retained 50% of Plekanec's salary in the trade:
LeBrun is also reporting this morning that there were three teams in the running for Plekanec's services, but that the Leafs ultimately stepped up to pay the price:
The 35-year-old center who has played his entire career with the Habs' organization has just six goals and 24 points this season, but was a perennial 15-25 goal scorer for years in the NHL. He's just two seasons removed from a 54 point performance and could find himself reinvigorated playing for a young, fast and uptempo Leafs squad.
Plekanec's two-year, $12 million deal expires this summer and he'll hit the open market as an unrestricted free-agent, meaning he's more or less a "rental" acquisition for the Leafs. The interesting thing is... Plekanec may already have his next team in mind.
According to Sportsnet's Eric Engels, the "he parameters have been set for [Plekanec] to return [to Montreal] he so wishes".
Would anyone be really surprised if Plekanec ended up back in Montreal when everything is said and done? It certainly sounds like Habs general manager Marc Bergevin has a trick up his sleeve...
Of course, if there were any proof that the Habs and Plekanec have conspired on a return, the NHL would surely exact punishment. While it's not unheard of for players to return to their former teams, it's against the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement to engage in this types of discussions while under contract. And let's be clear about something, maybe the Habs and Plekanec did something wrong... maybe the didn't. But, if they did... you can GUARANTEE that the Montreal media will uncover the truth. Stay tuned, things could get interesting in La Belle Province.
Could you imagine?
If things work out that way, Plekanec’s 1,000th NHL game will indeed be played in a Canadiens uniform. That’s certainly what Montreal would hope for — for sentimental reasons, sure, but mostly because they know he can still contribute as a relatively inexpensive depth addition to their desperately wanting centre line. That the Maple Leafs only have 18 games remaining on their schedule makes it all possible. Assuming Plekanec plays in all of them, he’ll hit 999 when the Canadiens visit Toronto on the final day of the regular season.
As for the return, the Habs acquire two mid-level prospects in Rychel and Valiev.
The 23-year-old Rychel was acquired by the Leafs from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Scott Harrington back in the summer of 2016. Since then, Rychel has played a season and a half for the Leafs' farm team the Toronto Marlies, but has yet to earn himself an NHL callup. The former first round pick (19th overall in 2013) has 10 goals and 30 points in 55 games with the Marlies this season. His AHL teammate, Valiev is a prototypical shut-down defender. The 22-year-old Russian has five goals and 15 points in 40 games with the Marlies this season.