I Believe… What The Habs Will Do

By JD Lagrange – So much uncertainty these days surrounding the Montreal Canadiens. Who will they chose to pick with the first overall selection at the upcoming NHL Draft? They need to shed some much needed salary. They need to address Jeff Petry’s situation. They don’t know if their All-Star goaltender will be available to play. They have a shortage of right-handed defensemen. Now, news comes out that the Chicago Blackhawks have asked and received permission from the Canadiens to speak with assistant-coach Luke Richardson for their head coaching position.

So I’ve decided to play a game. A game of predictions, if you will. So since it’s my game, I make the rules. I pick several topics and chose the most likely outcome. Yes, basically, it’s a game of predictions. The results are based on a blend of wishful thinking on my part, information readily available through what’s known to the public, and gut feeling. Without further ado, here we go…

First overall pick

In spite of the talks about the Canadiens liking Juraj Slafkovsky or Logan Cooley, Kent Hughes will announce the selection of Shane Wright with the first overall pick. They will not risk having a packed Bell Centre in shock by selecting one of the other two prospects at number one. Unless, of course, they trade down, gaining additional asset(s) in the process. That would allow them to get one of Slafkovsky or Cooley.

Draft picks traded

The Canadiens will not be speaking 14 times at this year’s NHL Draft. They will be trading some of their picks. Here are 3 potential scenarios:

  • Trading multiple picks to move up to get the prospect that they want
  • Trading picks to get a someone young established player
  • Trading some of this year’s picks for picks in 2023 or 2024.

Carey Price

His career is over. He will be joining Shea Weber on the permanent (until his contract expires) LTIR. But that won’t be decided until a few months into the season as Carey being the competitor that he is, will work his butt off to come back healthy. But his knee simply won’t allow him to do that. A knee for a skater is one thing, but for a goalie, it’s a whole different issue.

Jeff Petry

Yes, he will be traded. Oh I’d love to keep him, particularly with the way he’s played since Martin St-Louis has taken over the team. But his family will (and should) come first. He will be heading to the US of A. Likely destinations could be Dallas, Detroit and, if they can’t re-sign Kris Letang, Pittsburgh.

Mike Hoffman

He will be sacrificed and the Canadiens will chose to keep Jonathan Drouin instead… unless Drouin himself requests a trade. One year to Drouin’s contract compared to two years to Hoffman’s will give the Canadiens better flexibility down the road. Further, if he has a good season and the Canadiens are not in the playoffs’ picture at that time, Drouin could fetch a good return as a rental for a playoffs’ bound team.

Veteran right-handed defenseman

The departure of Petry will leave a huge hole on the right side of the Canadiens’ defense. Kent Hughes will try signing pending UFA John Klingberg but the likeliness of him signing with a last place team is very low. I’m guessing that Colin Miller, of the Buffalo Sabres, will end up wearing the CH on his jersey as a UFA. A contract similar to Joel Edmundson and David Savard.

Shea Weber’s contract

Shea Weber

The Canadiens will be trading Shea Weber’s contract to the Arizona Coyotes. This trade, if it occurs prior to the NHL Draft, has the potential to be much bigger as the Canadiens have more salary to shed. Arizona has the third overall pick, Carolina’s first round pick (#27) and Colorado’s first (likely #32 if they win the Cup). They also have 24 year-old defenseman Jakob Chychrun on the trade market. Could the Canadiens trade down to #3 from #1 at the Draft, and select one of Slafkovsky or Cooley? Sure they could.

Trade for a young forward

The Canadiens will trade some picks and/or prospects for a young, offensive-minded player. Look towards the New York Rangers and Vitali Kravstov, Detroit Red Wings for Filip Zadina or the Anaheim Ducks for Maxime Comtois as examples.

RFA without offers

According to capfriendly.com, the Canadiens have 32 players under contract for next season. Teams are allowed a maximum of 50 contracts. Here are their pending restricted free agents (RFAs). Scratched are the ones I believe will not be offered a contract and will, therefore, become unrestricted free agents.

  • Josh Brook
  • Kale Clague
  • Samuel Montembeault
  • Michael Pezzetta
  • Rem Pitlick
  • Cayden Primeau
  • Alexander Romanov
  • Corey Schueneman
  • Nate Schnarr
  • Joel Teasdale

We are just over three weeks away from the NHL Draft and off course, the first day of the Draft (July 7th) will be the busiest day. But you can expect rumours and perhaps some moves to be made just prior to that. Stay tuned folks, it will be a wild ride. Agree? Disagree? What do YOU predict will happen?

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