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Report: Habs could make Plekanec available before deadline

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 7: Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 7, 2017 in Toronto,Ontario, Canada. The Canadiens defeated the Maple Leafs 5-3. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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Over the last few weeks, the Montreal Canadiens have been hit hard by injuries.

They’re currently without Alex Galchenyuk, David Desharnais, Andrew Shaw, Andrei Markov, Greg Pateryn, Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher. But that didn’t stop them from going 4-1-2 on their latest seven-game road trip, and it should make things interesting once guys start getting healthy.

One of the players that’s seen an increase in minutes is center Phillip Danault, who’s centering the top line with Alexander Radulov and Max Pacioretty.

Also, former first-round draft pick Michael McCarron has looked good in a fourth line role.

When everyone comes back, where will that leave Desharnais and Tomas Plekanec?

Once Desharnais is ready to return, there’s a chance he’ll have to settle for a spot on the wing if he wants to get back into the lineup. He’s played a few games there before, but there’s no doubt he prefers playing down the middle.

Plekanec has been an underrated two-way player for years. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t been the same player since the midway point of last season.

If he can’t get going, there’s a chance he can find himself on his way out of Montreal, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.

“(The Canadiens) are going to start to get healthy with (Alex) Galchenyuk coming back,” Kypreos said on Hockey Night in Canada. “But there’s a sense that if (Plekanec) doesn’t get re-engaged that he might be available by the trade deadline.”

Finding a taker for Plekanec might be easier said than done. The 34-year-old has just three goals and 14 assists in 40 games this season, and he has one year remaining on his contract at $6 million.

Even if they trade one or two of their veteran centers, there’s no doubt that the Canadiens would like to add one that can play on the second line behind Galchenyuk. Even though they like what Danault’s been able to do, it seems clear that he’s best-suited to play on a third line.

Names that keep popping up in Montreal are Avalanche center Matt Duchene and Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Neither player will come cheap though.