What’s today? It’s Monday. To be precise, it’s March 14th 2022. It’s one week away from the NHL trade deadline. The team that you see, the one that went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals just a few months ago, the one which has suffered through a record of well over 500 man-games lost so far, will be dismantled. And it will all start this week. No Carey Price all year. No Shea Weber either. Joel Edmundson has played one game. Paul Byron has missed most of the season. And the multitude of other injuries and COVID cases…
And it keeps piling on. Artturi Lehkonen, who is having a career year, didn’t play against the Flyers, the team reporting that it was an upper-body injury. Ryan Poehling did start the game but had to leave with what was also described as an upper-body injury. Will they risk Ben Chiarot, perhaps their biggest trade bait, getting hurt or has he played his last game in a Habs’ uniform?
The new management of Jeff Gorton as V-P of Hockey Ops, and his General Manager Kent Hughes, have been working the phones. So far, only Tyler Toffoli has packed his bags and he’s filling the net in Calgary instead of Montreal, the place he wanted to be. It’s not over. Far from over. As the Canadiens embark into a six-games home stretch (three of which before trade deadline), the team should start looking quite different.
Ben Chiarot, Brett Kulak, Chris Wideman and Mathieu Perreault are all pending UFAs. Lehkonen, Mike Hoffman, Joel Armia, Christian Dvorak and Jeff Petry are all part of trade rumours. Not all will depart by next Monday, but some will for sure.
So what is the plan? What we know, is that both Gorton and Hughes want “to play fast” and add “skills”. We also know that Hughes doesn’t want a rebuild. In fact, he doesn’t like any of the “R-words”. Perhaps he’ll come out with one of his own.
My personal concern? The Habs have spent years being referred to as the smurfs. Prior to Bergevin, they spent decades being push-overs and not protecting their skilled players.
In came Brandon Prust, Andrew Shaw, Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Josh Anderson. All guys who can play hockey but will also bring respect on the ice. I’m hoping that Hughes doesn’t fully revert back to that. But I can’t help but worry about it. That’s why the Leafs got eliminated by a tougher Habs’ team. The physical pounding took its toll in a 7-games series.
What will the team look like against the Boston Bruins on March 21st? I guess we’ll find out soon enough. The clock is ticking and changes will start happening. Let’s keep our fingers crossed in hope that Hughes is half as good as Bergevin when it comes to getting the better in trades.
The moves made this upcoming week will go a long way into influencing the decisions of UFAs this upcoming summer on whether or not considering Montreal as a potential destination.