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CANADIENS LET GO OF KEY PLAYERS IN FEBRUARY WITHOUT KNOWING THEY COULD BE ELIGIBLE FOR PLAYOFFS

The Montreal Canadiens are set to play their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins when Phase 4 of the Return to Play Plan begins.

In February, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin decided to let go of four players before the NHL trade deadline of February 24. At that time it appeared the Canadiens had no chance of securing a post-season spot, so Bergevin let go of Ilya Kovalchuk, Nate Thompson, Nick Cousins and Marco Scandella.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have a crystal ball, but we let a lot of good players go just before the trade deadline that you wish you still had had you known that was going to happen,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said during Thursday. “But, again, everything has a purpose and a reason. What that’s going to do is it’s going to allow us to give some of our younger players some experience, which they probably wouldn’t get if we had kept those players. So you take what you have. I think we have a great opportunity here, honestly, to grow as a team. And the only way to grow is to go out there and go out there to try and win and move forward here.”



Kovalchuk was traded to the Washington Capitals on February 23 for a third-round pick in this year’s draft. He had 6-7-13 totals in 22 games with the Canadiens.

Thompson was traded on February 24 to the Philadelphia Flyers for a fifth-round pick in the 2021 draft. He had 4-10-14 totals in 63 games with the Canadiens.

Cousins was traded on February 24 to the Vegas Golden Knights for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft. He had 9-13-22 totals in 58 games with the Canadiens.

Scandella was traded on February 18 to the St. Louis Blues for a second-round pick in this year’s draft and a conditionnal fourth-round pick in 2021. He had 1-2-3 totals in 20 games with the Canadiens, after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for a 2020 fourth-round pick just a little earlier, on January 2.

“I think for us it’s really about taking advantage of this situation that’s been given to us,” Canadiens Coach Claude Julien said. “A few months back, our minds were probably in an area where you’re saying: ‘Oh, boy, it’s another long summer here,’ and all of a sudden you get an opportunity to be in the playoffs. So there’s excitement there, there’s opportunity to grow. I think we need to take this situation and really run with it. I think we need to take advantage of what’s been given to us right now and make the best of it.”

source: Montreal Gazette
ASHLEY SANDERS
JULY 3, 2020  (13H35)
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