First Order of Business: Who Stays And Who Goes

New management will be meeting with each and every veteran on the team, if it hasn’t already been done. There will be a few questions asked and one will be to find out if they want to be part of the Canadiens’ future… at least to most of them. Here’s a list of 11 key veterans on the team, for which the future right now is uncertain, at least to us.

NAMEPOSITIONCONTRACT STATUS
Carey PriceGoaltender$10.5M cap hit until 2025-26
Jake AllenGoaltender$2.875M cap hit until 2022-23
Ben ChiarotDefenseman$3.5M cap hit until 2021-22
Joel EdmundsonDefenseman$3.5M cap hit until 2023-24
Jeff PetryDefenseman$6.25M cap hit until 2024-25
David SavardDefenseman$3.5M cap hit until 2024-25
Brendan GallagherRight Wing$6.5M cap hit until 2026-27
Tyler ToffoliRight Wing$4.25M cap hit until 2023-24
Jonathan DrouinLeft Wing$5.5M cap hit until 2022-23
Mike HoffmanLeft Wing$4.5M cap hit until 2023-24
Christian DvorakCenter$4.45M cap hit until 2024-25

Further to that list, I would add Paul Byron but my feeling is that his contract will be bought out next summer. He has one year left (after this one) with a cap hit of $3.4 million. Here’s the cap implication of a buyout in his case:

SEASONBASE SALARYINITIAL CAP HITSAVINGSCAP HIT
2022-23$2.8M$3.4M$1.87M$1.53M
2023-24$0$0-$933,334$933,334
TOTAL$2.8M$3.4M$933,333$2.47M

Personal preference

First and foremost, you have to understand that I don’t think that the Canadiens need to go through a full “rebuild”, as many suggest. We’ve mentioned it before, but the Habs have drafted 45 young prospects since the 2018 reset and they’re just starting to trickle in. Many more will be ready to help in the next year or two. So I’m going with a continued reset, by keeping some key veteran in hope to be competitive again, while drafting and developing well.

We all have our thoughts on who should stay or who should go. My choices are no better than anyone else’s and can very well change based on a single decision or move made by the organisation. If player “A” is traded, it could affect my take on the future of player “B”, in my books. So this is based on no moves or decisions having been made public yet, as of today.

Goaltending

Carey Price

I would not trade both Carey Price and Jake Allen. In fact, I would prefer keeping both. For years, the Canadiens have been searching for a suitable backup for Price and Marc Bergevin finally found one. Even better, he convinced him to sign a contract extension at rebate. Primeau might or might not be ready. If one of the top-2 are traded, I’d be somewhat comfortable with a tandem of Price (or Allen) with Montembeault (or Primeau) for next season. But not Montembeault and Primeau as the primary goalies. If I was going to trade one of Price or Allen though, I wouldn’t give them away. I would want a good return… or you keep them both!

Defense

Ben Chiarot is gone. Expiring contract and high demand, therefore excellent value, make him an automatic trade by trade deadline in my opinion. I would keep Joel Edmundson as he’s a similar player.

Ideally, I’d keep Jeff Petry and play him with Edmundson. I believe this rough season is a one off and quality right-handed defensemen are few and far between. This is the worst depth position on the Habs currently. If you need to clear salary, Chiarot’s $3.5 million could be added to Savard’s $3.5 million. Savard has lost a few too many steps and he’s expandable.

Forwards

I personally would trade one of Gallagher or Toffoli, but not both. And when I say trade, I mean trade, not give them away. You only trade one of you get maximum value for him. Gallagher is a Bergevin-type of guy and we’ve discussed before that the LA Kings could be a good destination… as would Toffoli. They have some very good prospects out there that the Habs could target.

Jonathan Drouin

I would like Hughes to do the same with the two left-wingers mentioned above. Both Drouin and Hoffman are similar in a way: they don’t bring much if they don’t put points on the board. Drouin is more of a playmaker while Hoffman, a goals’ scorer. So depending on who you get in trades, and based on trade value, I would trade one of them. Drouin’s name has recently surfaced in trade rumours.

As for Dvorak, he leaves many of us perplexed. He’s by far the Canadiens’ best faceoffs center and for that reason alone, I’m not keen on trading him. But with the up and down season – mostly down – he’s having, one could find a cheaper faceoffs’ specialist. While not necessarily slow, he’s certainly not going to win many races to the puck. But centers are at a premium and the Canadiens paid a hefty price to acquire him. I would not give him away, that’s for sure.

Other

One guy that didn’t make my list but I would consider trading is Joel Armia. Just as we thought that he had finally turned the corner with his play in the playoffs, he’s having a horrible year. Worse, he just signed a long term deal with a $3.4 million cap hit! This contract is not without reminding us of the one given to Byron a few years ago, although Byron was producing more. If they can unload him, I’d definitely consider it.

So there you have it folks. Ideally, those are the players I would consider trading. If I had to choose today, it would go this way:

  • Chiarot (pending UFA, high return)
  • Savard (too slow, expansive 3rd pair)
  • Gallagher (sacrificed to keep Toffoli)
  • Drouin (the experiment should be over, he is what he is)
  • Dvorak (depending if the Habs get another good center)

Yes, I know, the language police will be all over me, daring to trade two Quebecois. But that would be possibly over $23 million in cap space leaving, leaving room for Nick Suzuki’s contract to kick in next season and add a few good pieces. Hang on to your hat folks, it’s about to get busy in Montreal as both Gorton and Hughes prepare for trade deadline.

More reading…

Carey Price: The Man Behind The Mask

Artturi Lehkonen In High Demand

Hughes Already In Discussions With Other Teams

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