Piling Up On First Round Picks

By JD Lagrange – It is no secret that Canadiens’ General Manager Kent Hughes is trying to get his hands on at least one more first round pick for the upcoming NHL Draft. And who knows, maybe he is looking for another one for the 2024 Draft too? Already having their own first round pick and the Florida Panthers, getting a third might allow him to package a couple of them to move up into the Draft this summer or trade some to accelerate the rebuild, or re-whatever they call it.

Having said that, we must once again bring fans back to reality a bit, particularly those who feel like mid to late first round picks are worth established NHL players. History has clearly shown that they are not, for the most part. So you don’t empty your team to get those picks, particularly not players that you can use in the meantime.

1st round picks

So which current player(s) on the Canadiens could potentially fetch a first round pick, aside of course from the young core the team is building around? For that, we must look at the veteran players who can help a Stanley Cup playoffs’ team. For this exercise, I decided to not only provide names, but also the likeliness of them being traded. Of course, this is only one man’s opinion…

Legend of likeliness to be traded:

  • 🟒 Very likely
  • 🟠 Somewhat likely
  • πŸ”΄ Very unlikely
🟒 Joel Edmundson

It is everywhere on the internet, via reputable NHL Insiders, teams are very interested in the 6-foot 5-inches, 221 lbs defenseman. He brings leadership, physicality and grit, defensive stability and he’s a fixture on the penalty kill while logging big minutes against top lines. When you think that less than a year ago, Ben Chiarot fetched a first round pick, Tyler Smilanic and a fourth round pick, it is not farfetched to expect at least a first for Edmundson. The fact that he has a year remaining at a team-friendly $3.5 million contract is a big plus for a team acquiring his services.

🟠 Sean Monahan

Monahan’s name would be in the green category if it weren’t for the fact that he fits in so well with the team and that the Canadiens are considering extending the veteran center. So everything hinges on the level of interest the two parties have in each other and that, we are not privy of. If I had to guess, I’d estimate the odds of Monahan being traded at 75% right now. A center for the second or third line, winning you faceoffs, defensively responsible, who can play on both special teams, a leader in the dressing room, will certainly fetch at least a first round pick. The Canadiens might have to keep some salary however.

🟠 Christian Dvorak

The only way the Canadiens will consider trading Dvorak at this point is if they decided to extend Monahan. Dvorak has one year remaining to his contract at an affordable cap hit of $4.45 million. For some teams, it can be a negative but for others, it brings cost certainty at a key position for another season. Don’t think that the Canadiens will trade both Monahan and Dvorak however. They will keep one of them.

πŸ”΄ Josh Anderson

We’ve explained it in length, Josh Anderson is very unlikely to be moved by the Canadiens. Kent Hughes is on record multiple times saying that he’s not wanting to trade him. Of course, the old “someone could make an offer the Canadiens can’t refuse” argument is possible. But a first round pick is not an overpayment for a 25-goals’ scorer with his size, physicality, speed and leadership qualities. It’s unlikely a team would come up with an offer that would make the Habs’ brass change their mind. But as we know, there are desperate GMs out there…

πŸ”΄ Jake Allen

Because of the high demand, the Canadiens could get a first round pick for Allen. But he signed his two-year contract extension with the current management. The Canadiens signed him knowing that there is no one close to being ready to step into the NHL and his extension doesn’t start until next season. Unless they get their hands on a young NHL-ready goaltender with potential to be a number one, don’t put too much money on Kent Hughes moving his veteran goaltender.

Other trades

Evgenii Dadonov, Jonathan Drouin, Mike Hoffman and Joel Armia are very unlikely to bring in a first round pick, but any (or all) of them could be gone by trade deadline. The first two are in the final year of their contract so they will be off the Canadiens’ books regardless by the end of this season at the latest. Hoffman and Armia have term left to their contracts, making things more difficult considering their low production.

For the second season in a row, with the Canadiens out of playoffs’ contention after a very cold December, it will be a very interesting time from now until the March 3rd NHL trade deadline as they unload salary and move pieces around to prepare for the summer months.

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