Let the Hanzal-to-Habs speculation begin in earnest
Sergei Belski / USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens' roster took a massive hit down the middle Wednesday, as centers Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais will both miss six-to-eight weeks with knee injuries.

If anyone knows just how much an injury to a top player can derail a season, it's Habs general manager Marc Bergevin. While his club's currently atop the Eastern Conference with 37 points - tied for most in the NHL - the real heavy lifting begins now. Montreal's without its top scorer and his replacement for potentially two months.

Enter Martin Hanzal.

The 29-year-old Coyotes pivot is playing out the final year of his contract, and is thought to be available on the trade market. Arizona is languishing at the bottom of the Pacific Division with only eight wins in 25 games, so it's no surprise Hanzal is a candidate to be moved.

He's earning a salary of $3.5 million this year, but costs just $3.1 million against the cap. The Coyotes are rumored to be seeking a young NHLer in return - preferably a center - who can slot into their lineup immediately.

One option could be Phillip Danault, who's 23 years old, can play center, and has five goals and four assists in 26 games. Problem is, with Desharnais and Galchenyuk out, it doesn't make sense for Bergevin to deal one of his remaining centers for another one.

Fueling speculation about Hanzal, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun took to Twitter after the Galchenyuk and Desharnais injuries were announced:

Make no mistake - the losses of Galchenyuk and Desharnais are huge, especially for a team that's hardly a possession monster (Montreal's 14th in the league with a 50.38 Corsi For rating, according to Corsica Hockey):

Bergevin doesn't have to make a trade, especially not one out of desperation. But Hanzal makes sense. He did before, and he especially does now - but only at the right price.

Another option is to simply hold the fort, and go forward with what the Canadiens have got. Paul Byron can play some center and he's been a pleasant surprise this season. Tomas Plekanec needs to step up - now. Andrew Shaw and Torrey Mitchell may have to take on more responsibility.

The Canadiens host New Jersey on Thursday, Colorado on Saturday, and Boston on Monday, before three days off and then a visit from San Jose. How the club fares over its next three games will be very interesting to watch, and may determine the road Bergevin decides to travel.

Never a dull moment in Montreal, right?

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Let the Hanzal-to-Habs speculation begin in earnest
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