By Bob Trask – The Montreal Canadiens will be making some changes over the summer and Kent Hughes is likely to be active in the trade market. Some players like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alexander Romanov, Justin Barron and Jordan Harris won’t be traded but the list of untouchables is short.
When making trades, a general manager has to do more than shuffle the cards he holds; he has to make strategic transactions designed to improve the team in the short or long run, depending upon his objectives. However, trading jokers, deuces and threes for aces and kings doesn’t happen very often.
We can take a look at what the trade value of some players might be and draw our own conclusions on what might be expected in return.
These are contracts that a team might have to pay to rid themselves of. The trade of Patrick Marleau by Toronto to Carolina is an example of a contract with negative value. It’s not that the player is necessarily bad, but it’s a case of where the performance and the contract are out of line. It could be a player the team would happily keep for $1 million but not for $7 million, when the $6 million difference could be utilized to beef up the team in other areas.
No one on the Canadiens seems to fit this bill although Brendan Gallagher and David Savard may be flirting with it.
These are pending UFAs – players that a team could bid for in the free agent market simply by waiting until early July when the players become available. Tyler Pitlick, Mathieu Perreault, Laurent Dauphin, Chris Wideman, William Lagesson, Cedric Paquette, Lukas Vejdemo, Alex Belzile, Sami Niku, Xavier Ouellet and a couple of others with the Laval Rocket fall into this category. It’s a long list.
Players who have limited value are those who would appeal to only a few teams and only if the cost was low. Their value could be limited by a combination of the contract they carry, their age, the skills they bring to the team, the trend in their production and their unknown injury status. Players in this group include Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin, Joel Armia, Paul Byron and Savard.
Also of limited value are those RFAs whose chances of making the team seem remote. They might have little value in a one-for-one trade but could be added as a sweetener to make a deal happen. Michael Pezzetta, Kale Clague and Samuel Montembeault would have varying degrees of value but it would be limited in all three cases.
This is a group of players that a team would want to hang on to but would grudgingly trade if the right deal was offered. Among players currently on the roster, Josh Anderson, Christian Dvorak, Rem Pitlick, Jake Evans, Ryan Poehling and Joel Edmundson would fall into this category. Cayden Primeau and Jesse Ylonen would be on the list, too.
Mike Hoffman seems to fall somewhere between limited value and good value – with his value closer to limited at this point. His contract isn’t horrible in terms of price or length and he has displayed flashes of good play without much in the way of consistency. An optimistic GM may be convinced that Hoffman can return to the offensive form he has shown in the past.
Many will disagree with this assessment but it could be argued that Jeff Petry has jumped all the way from negative value to high value with his play over the past three months. Solid, offensively capable right-handed defensemen are a rarity in the NHL and Petry fits squarely in that category. Forget the contract; there are A LOT of less productive defenseman than Petry who make the same amount or more on their current contracts. He has the potential to be a leader on the Montreal defense or to bring a healthy return in any trade.
Edmundson also borders on the high value category but is less productive offensively and is coming off a back injury and a tough year in his personal life (loss of his father).
The unknown health status of Carey Price combined with his contract situation make ranking his trade value virtually impossible. Jake Allen is unranked because the likelihood of trading him is completely dependent on what happens with Price. Shea Weber is also unranked but he may have some value for a couple of teams in unique situations.
These are the cards that Kent Hughes holds; we’ll see how he plays them this summer.
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