By JAG – Like every fan, at one time or another, I find that some players on other team would look rather good in a Habs’ uniform. Just wishful thinking you might say, but here it is. My short list of targets and why I think a trade can and should happen.
LAWSON CROUSE, 25 years old, 6’4’’, 220 lbs, LW, ARIZONA
He is a bruising top-9 forward that scored 20 goals for the Coyotes. As a junior, he was named ‘’The Marshall’’ by his teammates for his discipline and leadership. Getting out of Arizona could be the trigger for him to blossom into the dominating player that he can be. Picture him on a ‘’deluxe’’ third line with any of the Habs centers and Anderson on the right side, Schtroumphs (or Smurfs) no-more I say!
Arizona is weak at center past the top two lines. Dvorak could be that center and give the Yotes a good veteran to support a young team. Also, Arizona is rich in good prospect that are very young and will not be NHL ready for a few years. Montreal has a number of good college prospects that are almost at the NHL ready stage. Tuch, Biondi, Struble or Farrell could help Arizona as early as the end of this year. If need be, they and other assets can be used as a sweetener to also move another veteran player’s salary to the Yotes and/or acquire picks. This is an avenue I would explore as it would benefit the team on the ice and Cap management for the upstairs people.
JORDAN SPENCE, 21 years old, 5’11’’, 175 lbs, RD, LA
He’s not a big man but his game has grown by leaps and bounds since he was drafted. A product of the QMJHL, it’s not surprising that pundits questioned his play without the puck in his draft year. They always do for players from the Q. Well…. questionable no more! His AHL play last year was good enough to get him a lengthy trial in the BIG. At the age of 20, he played with men all year. He put up 42 points in the AHL with a +18 rating and he put up 8 points in LA in the 24 games he played in the BIG. Even considering his size, this type of player is NOT normally available ….
Unless you’re LA and you have prospects named Helge Grans and Brent Clarke. Both jumbo sized, highly talented RDs that jumped over Jordan Spence in the Kings depth chart the minute they were drafted. Another reason why the trade could be done is that LA is very short on NHL-ready talent at left defense. Outside of Tobias Bjornfot and an aging Alex Edler, it’s pretty slim. Finally, Spence was drafted in the fourth round. It is always easier for management to justify a low draft pick trade to improve the team now.
The best deal would be a swap of defensemen that doesn’t impact the Cap for either teams. Montreal would have to include a left defenseman that has NHL experience. Norlinder or Scheunaman would fit the bill but LA would also require another prospect and/or a mid-draft pick to make it a fair trade. Notwithstanding this steeper price, in my opinion, Spence is definitely worth it and he would greatly improve the RD depth chart for the Habs for years to come.
MAXIME COMTOIS, 23 years old, 6’2’’, 215 lbs, LW/RW, ANAHEIM
He is a bruising top 9 forward that can score 20 goals. He can play both wings, he’s got wheels and grit and he’s in dire need of a change after a very ‘’hohum’’ season. Plus, he was rumoured to be on the trade market last season. Montreal needs this type of player. This would be a riskier acquisition but the upside is very interesting. For Anaheim, the third line would greatly benefit from a veteran experience to support Mason MacTavish’s first year in the NHL. Anaheim has Cap space and could use any of Drouin, Dadonov, Armia or Hoffman. A sweetener maybe in order, prospect or mid-draft pick but size, grit and speed are hard to teach. The trade is worth the risk.
Montreal is still small and they have a plethora of smaller, talented players in the pipeline. Many past managers have tried to build a contender with teams smaller than the league average. They were entertaining to be sure and some of these teams got very close but, in the end, they all failed.
This management team has professed that they want to play quick and fast and they have also recruited for size that can play this way. Signing Condotta shows the same philosophy as drafting Slafkovski, big men that can play a fast pace game. Of course, their upside is vastly different but Condotta may become a great fourth liner, prized by fans and management alike, the same way that Slafs can become a top liner prized by fans and management alike, it’s all part of the PLAN.
Drafting big men that can play this style is not always feasible, they are a prized commodity! And the better a team gets, the lower the draft picks become and choice becomes limited. So, if you’re a manager, trading for this kind of player remains the best option …. And grabbing them when you can remains the best strategy! The same can be said for young, extremely mobile and offensively gifted defensemen. So, if you’re smart, you draft for talent, you trade for position, that’s how you make it work.
All three players I targeted fit immediate and long term needs for the Habs. They fit the right age bracket for this group and improve the team at two positions. Now you know why I would target them.
Thanks for reading,
Keep your stick on the ice, the puck is coming.