Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bergevin Faces Extra Heat Going into Second Draft as Canadiens General Manager

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Bergevin Faces Extra Heat Going into Second Draft as Canadiens General Manager

Article excerpt

Bergevin under pressure in his second draft

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MONTREAL - Holding the third overall draft pick made things relatively simple for Marc Bergevin a year ago at his first NHL draft as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens.

This time may be trickier, as Bergevin and his staff go into Sunday's draft holding the 25th overall pick. However, having six picks in the first three rounds could make it interesting.

"Last year we only had two picks before ours and we had a good idea of what we were going to do," said Bergevin, who selected forward Alex Galchenyuk. "This year, it's completely different."

And this time there is unexpected extra pressure on Bergevin in the form of centre Vincent Lecavalier.

Montreal fans are pushing hard for the Canadiens to sign Lecavalier, who entered the unrestricted free agent market on Thursday when the Tampa Bay Lightning announced they were buying out 33-year-old's hefty contract.

The Canadiens have not had a French-Canadian star in many years, and Lecavalier would fit that bill. They also want to get bigger up front, and Lecavalier is six-foot-four. And, with 20 players signed and $9 million in salary cap space open, they should be able to afford him.

Even Mathieu Darche, a former Canadien and Lightning, urged Bergevin on his blog for RDS to sign the slick centre who scored 52 goals in 2006-07.

The temptation to make a play for his former teammate in Tampa would have to be enormous, even if it seems to go against Bergevin's philosophy.

Only a week ago, Bergevin said he was leery of using free agency for anything but acquiring role players to fill gaps in the roster, as he did last summer with Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong.

"To me, free agency is a tool, but it's not a way to make your team a top team," he said. "It's overplayed. You have to be really careful with free agency."

He does not rule out making a deal to move up in the draft, however. The Canadiens have three second round picks, including the 34th and 36th overall from previous deals, as well as their own 55th pick. They also draft 71st and 86th overall in the third round.

"I can say we're always looking to improve our position, but there's a price to pay," he said. …

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