By JD Lagrange – It has been a busy year for the Montreal Canadiens. New General Manager, new Hockey Operations’ staff, new head coach, and several other changes in the organization, including a few big trades. You will find it all here, in chronological order, in the Montreal Canadiens’ 2022 year in review.
January 5th: Canadiens hire Chantal Machabée as V-P, Communications. Chantal has been a breath of fresh air for reporters, players, coaches and managers as we have more media availability and better insight.
January 19th: Canadiens hire Kent Hughes as General Manager. His hiring was a bit of a surprise to many, but so far so good for the rookie GM and former players’ agent.
February 10th: Canadiens fire head coach Dominique Ducharme, replace him with Martin St-Louis as interim coach. Of course, we think Cole Caufield’s turnaround but his unique and fresh approach seems to be custom made for a young team in transition.
February 12th: Kent Hughes completes his first trade, acquiring goaltender Andrew Hammond for AHL tough guy Brandon Baddock. The ice was broken as the Canadiens were in dire need for a goaltender, with both Carey Price and Jake Allen injured.
February 14th: Hughes completes his first big trade, sending Tyler Toffoli to Calgary. In return, the Canadiens got Tyler Pitlick, prospect Emil Heineman, 2022 1st round pick (#26 – Filip Mesar) and the Flames 2023 5th round pick. Heineman has looked good at rookie camp before his injury and Mesar also had a great camp.
February 18th: Canadiens hire Nick Bobrov as Co-Director of Amateur Scouting (with Martin Lapointe) and Vincent Lecavalier as Special Advisor of Hockey Operations. As we’ve seen in the video behind the scene at the NHL Draft, Bobrov was very involved in the decision to pick Slafkovsky ahead of Shane Wright.
March 4th: Canadiens hire Adam Nicholas as Director, Hockey Development. Nicholas is very, very involved in practices not only with up and coming players, but with seasoned veterans as well.
March 16th: Hughes trades away pending UFA Ben Chiarot to the Florida Panthers for Ty Smilanic, 2022 4th round pick (NYR – #127 – Cedrick Guindon) and the Panthers’ first round pick in 2023. Few saw that coming but the Panthers are currently in real danger of missing the playoffs, giving the Canadiens another chance at a lottery pick at the upcoming NHL Draft.
March 21st: Hughes completes another big trade, this time sending Artturi Lehkonen to the Colorado Avalanche. In return, the Canadiens received then 20 year-old defenseman Justin Barron and the Avalanche’s 2024 2nd round pick. With this trade, Hughes attempted to fill a huge need in the organization, a right-handed, former first round pick, highly skilled defenseman.
March 21st: Hughes also traded pending UFA Brent Kulak to the Edmonton for William Lagesson, 2022 2nd round pick (#62 – Lane Hutson) and the Oilers’ 2024 7th round pick. Hutson could be a steal at #62 in that Draft.
May 10th: Canadiens win the number 1 pick in 2022 NHL Draft in lottery and Gary Bettman looks surprised, although they had finished last overall in the standings, therefore having the best odds.
May 13th: Canadiens hired Christopher Boucher who is appointed the title of Director of Hockey Analytics.
June 7th: Canadiens announce the hiring of Canadian female hockey all-star Marie-Philip Poulin as a player development consultant. Poulin has been on the ice quite often, particularly with the team’s young players during rookie camp.
June 16th: Hughes trades Shea Weber’s contract to the Vegas Golden Knights for Evgenii Dadonov. Even Hughes didn’t expect Dadonov, a pending UFA, to play this poorly but unloading Weber’s contract gave the team some cap relief on LTIR.
July 7th: With the NHL Draft held at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Hughes showed huge backbone as the Canadiens surprised many by making Juraj Slafkovsky the 1st overall pick of the 2022 NHL Draft instead of fans’ favourite Shane Wright. They also selected countryman Filip Mesar with the Flames pick, #26 overall.
July 7th: Hughes wasn’t done shocking Canadiens’ fans, when he traded Alexander Romanov and the Canadiens’ 2022 4th round pick to the New York Islanders for 2022 1st round pick (#13 overall)
July 7th: Hughes wasn’t done, trading that Islanders’ 2022 1st round pick (#13 overall) and the Canadiens’ 2022 3rd round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for 21 year-old center Kirby Dach, addressing the concern at center by not picking Wright.
July 13th: Hughes signed first overall selection Juraj Slafkovsky to his 3-year Entry Level Contract.
July 16th: Hughes trades disgruntled defenseman Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Mike Matheson and the Penguins’ 2023 4th round pick.
August 18th: Hughes acquires pending UFA center Sean Monahan – and his $6.375 million contract – and a conditional 1st round pick in 2025 from the Calgary Flames for future considerations. The Flames needed to shed cap space to sign UFA Nazem Kadri.
September 7th: Hughes signs Kirby Dach to a 4-year, $13.45 million contract extension.
October 5th: Hughes signs Logan Mailloux to a 3-year Entry Level Contract.
Preview for 2023
With the team in the midst of a rebuild (or re-whatever-you-call-it), 2023 will also come with plenty of changes, particularly with the on-ice product. Pending UFAs Jonathan Drouin, Evgenii Dadonov and Sean Monahan could find another place to play. Rumours are rampant about the future of Mike Hoffman, Joel Edmundson and even Josh Anderson. And Kent Hughes is on record saying that he is seeking another first round pick to add to the two he already has.
Then, once the season is over and the playoffs’ teams are confirmed, we will have the Draft lottery. If the Florida Panthers continue to struggle, the Canadiens could get not one, but two chances at the first overall pick, and getting Connor Bedard.