Two Big Off-Season Gambles

By Bob Trask – Kent Hughes recognized that the Montreal Canadiens needed help at center and moved to address that problem with a couple of moves that could be considered gambles. The first was the acquisition of Kirby Dach on draft day and the second was the acquisition of Sean Monahan from the Calgary Flames.

Kirby Dach

The Dach acquisition could be considered the bigger gamble of the two and required a couple of trades to get it done. Montreal traded Alexander Romanov and a 4th round pick (who turned out to be Isaiah George) for the Islanders #13 overall pick (who turned out be be Frank Nazar). They then turned around and traded the #13 overall pick and a 3rd round pick (who turned out to be Gavin Hayes) to Chicago for Kirby Dach.

Tallying up the results, Kent Hughes traded Alexander Romanov, Frank Nazar, Gavin Hayes and Isaiah George to acquire Kirby Dach. When you examine the trade in that light, it was a major move in an attempt to beef up the center ice position. Based on his play in the NHL to date, it was a lot to give up for Dach but the Canadiens have to be gambling on him reaching his potential. If he does, the gamble pays off.

Sean Monahan

Sean Monahan

The Monahan situation is more akin to buying a lottery ticket with the extra than going all in on a game of Texas holdem. If Monahan doesn’t work out, the Canadiens are out nothing has they still have a chance to win on the extra with the first round pick they acquired in the deal. The cost of the lottery ticket was nothing more than Monahan’s salary, which might be a financial burden but the Canadiens did not have to give up any prospects or picks.

While the odds are long, this trade could be a very, very big win for the Canadiens. In the 2018-19 season, Monahan finished 23rd overall in league scoring as a 24 year old. Players often peak at around 28 years, which is what Monahan will be this season. What makes a rebound to this level unlikely is that fact that Monahan is recovering from two hip surgeries.


Maybe a better way to look at these trades is to combine them and measure the overall cost to the Canadiens.

Players and picks acquired:

  • Kirby Dach
  • Sean Monahan
  • 1st round draft pick

Players and picks moved:

  • Alexander Romanov
  • Frank Nazar (1st round pick)
  • Gavin Hayes (3rd round pick)
  • Isaiah George (4th round pick)

If the first round picks more or less balance out in the long run, then Montreal have given up Romanov, Hayes and George for Dach and Monahan. It was a nice piece of work by Kent Hughes and given the organizational depth on left defense, the trade re-balanced the talent in the organization.

One thing is certain – the trades did not hurt the Canadiens. But it’s still a gamble because if the Canadiens are to be successful, at least one of Dach or Monahan will have to reach their FULL potential… but they were definitely gambles worth taking.

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4 thoughts on “Two Big Off-Season Gambles

  1. Great article, thanks, but, by my math, the cost for Dach was:
    Alexander Romanov
    Gavin Hayes (3rd round pick)
    Isaiah George (4th round pick).
    Adding in the 13th overall pick (Nazar) is double counting. But I do agree with your take on Hughes’ two bets.

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