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01-27-2004, 08:02 AM
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I keep coming back to this thread because I'm confused, honestly.

Confused that the word 'trade' is, for one of the very few times, not synonymous with the name 'Koivu'. I read and I read and his name never pops up. Perhaps this is dementia. Can someone help me?

So now it's Ribeiro for Bergeron.

Let's start by saying this has to be a hypothetical because in no way, even should the Earth freeze over and the Leafs win consecutive Cups, will this ever happen. There are two teams the Habs will not trade with unless they are fleecing the other so completely it becomes a laughable matter in the papers: Boston and Toronto.

So, suspending reality for a moment, let's have a look.

These are both young players who still have their best years in front of them, though in the case of Bergeron it's somewhat less defined. As mentioned, many players have started with a bang and whimpered into nothingness in the history of the NHL, and while his robust style and certain talent would seem to defy that sad end, there are no guarantees in this game for the rookie. In the case of Ribeiro, we see a very slowly developing player, yet to reach his potential, but with a habit of not giving his all and not being overly coachable.

Bergeron is a gritty player, with some good skill, who will probably work into a decent two-way forward with solid offensive upside. Ribeiro is nearing his peak, I would guess, as a super-slick forward with Downy-soft hands (I expect the check in the mail for that blatant advertisement) and a lack of a real defensive game. Both probably have 'soft' ceilings as second line players, but with an outside shot, if progression and circumstances dictate, of first line ability.

If you prefer a player who fits in a system, plays that gritty game, will chip in solidly on the board, and will probably even be able to take a shift or two on the PK, then Bergeron is your man. If, however, you want pure scoring talent from a player who is not quite up to snuff in other areas of his game, then Ribeiro is your guy. The question then becomes, what talents comprise your team and where are your needs?

Ribeiro, quite honestly, will always be a tough sell in Montreal due to his size and lack of any strength whatsoever. Until he's surrounded by much larger players, he'll remain a target and will ultimately hold back his team from the Cup. Certainly, he can put the points on the board, and in goal-starved Montreal that's a good thing - and the number one reason he's still here. If we had serious front line talent to go with Koivu, plus a couple of real second line players, I have to wonder if Ribeiro would fit into the system that Gainey and Julien are in the process of creating.

Bergeron would be more to the liking of the Montreal management and coaching staff, but only if there was more scoring on the team. Right now, the obvious choice should be Ribeiro just for that factor alone. However, as time goes on and we fill the roster with better overall players, it might come to the point where Bergeron is the more desired commodity since his gritty style and demeanor seem to better mesh with the ultimate plan.

Based on all that, would I trade for Bergeron using Ribeiro as the bait? No.

We need what Ribeiro brings to this team at this moment in time. Take him away and you take away the leading scorer and since we have no ready replacement and Bergeron is not in the same calibre at this point, it's a poor choice.

Some would argue that we'd be getting younger in the deal and we should go with that potential. My counter-argument would be that we can only go so young before we have an AHL-calibre club. Ribeiro is not old, and we need that age group on the club as much as we need the kids.

Furthermore, and quite possibly the nail in the coffin in such a deal, we have a youngster by the name of Chris Higgins who, for all intents and purposes, will challenge for that second line spot in the very near future. Some might argue that on another organization, he'd already be in the NHL at this point - particularly since it's a well documented fact that the Habs are very careful with their kids and almost always give them at least one year of seasoning in the AHL.

In fact, if we did make this trade today, I would say there would be an extremely high chance that Bergeron would find himself in the AHL before the season ended. And then the trade falls into the realm of the silly, since you've traded an NHL-calibre player for someone who may just be working on his game with other kids of his age.


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