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Bergevin: Canadiens not in rental market, may trade veterans

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Despite a surprising first half that has the Montreal Canadiens just a point out of a playoff spot, general manager Marc Bergevin doesn't foresee making a big splash at the trade deadline to improve his club.

"I don't think I'll be in the rental business," Bergevin said at a press conference Monday, according to The Athletic's Arpon Basu.

He added he's already considered the possibility of trading away veterans for future assets at the deadline, according to Basu.

Bergevin isn't keen on giving up long-term assets for short-term gain, in part because he knows GMs around the league would inquire about Montreal's impressive group of prospects who dazzled at the World Junior Championship, according to TSN's John Lu.

United States forward Ryan Poehling, a 2017 first-rounder, was named tournament MVP, while Russian blue-liner Alexander Romanov, a 2018 second-rounder, took home top defenseman honors. The Canadiens had five other prospects participate in the tournament: forwards Jesse Ylonen (Finland), Nick Suzuki (Canada), Jacob Olofsson (Sweden), defenseman Josh Brook (Canada), and goaltender Cayden Primeau (United States).

Even if the Habs were to part with one or more of these prized prospects to make the postseason as a wild-card team, they'd likely find themselves with a tough first-round matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, or Pittsburgh Penguins.

In the more realistic scenario where the Canadiens sell off veterans to acquire future assets, there probably wouldn't be a whole lot available for other teams. Their list of pending unrestricted free agents over the next two years isn't all that enticing:

Player Pos. UFA year
Kenny Agostino F 2019
Matthew Peca F 2020
Nicolas Deslauriers F 2020
Michael Chaput F 2020
Jordie Benn D 2019
David Schlemko D 2020
Antti Niemi G 2019

It's also possible that Bergevin stands pat at the deadline. In what was supposed to be a re-tooling year, the Canadiens trail the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders by a point in the wild-card race and are just three points behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division.

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