By JD Lagrange – We are less than two months away from the NHL Trade deadline, which is set this year to March 3rd. With the Montreal Canadiens well out of playoffs’ contention, rumours are already swirling around the team as General Manager Kent Hughes is preparing to unload some contracts and continue working towards getting a younger lineup.
As it’s too easy to claim, after the fact, that one has predicted something with no or little proof, I’ve decided to get my feet wet so readers can throw it back in my face when my predictions don’t happen. So without further ado, here are my predictions leading up to the roster that we will see comes March 4th, the day after trade deadline.
1- Joel Edmundson
Due to the Canadiens’ depth on the left side of the defense, Edmundson will be traded by trade deadline not because they want to trade him, but because they won’t be able to resist the return, as he will fetch the Canadiens a first round pick. But as for any first round picks acquired for the 2023 NHL Draft, Kent Hughes will have to be creative and fans might have to accept less of a return in order to get their hands on one.
2- Sean Monahan
While the Canadiens are genuinely contemplating offering him a contract extension, his recent time on the injured reserve, combined with the demand for a quality veteran center, will sway the bar towards trading him. And like Edmundson, Monahan will also fetch a first round pick. Don’t be surprised though if the pick is conditional, based on the number of games he plays due to his health status. For example, if Monahan doesn’t play “x” number of games with his new team, the first turns into a second.
3- Jonathan Drouin
This will shock many, myself included, but Hughes will find a taker for Drouin. Of course, the Canadiens will have to keep half his salary, a small price to pay to unload a veteran who will obviously not be back next season. The return will be very minimal, and Hughes might have to take a bad contract until the end of the season to make it work.
3- Canadiens will acquire a young goalie
By trade deadline, there will be added depth in net for the organization. There are a few options out there but I’ll go further with my prediction to say that you shouldn’t be shocked if the goaltender they acquire is none other than Devon Levi, a Dollar-des-Ormeaux native, prospect of the Buffalo Sabres. A seventh round pick and former Team Canada Junior goalie, Levi will be yet another later rounds project. In fact, his story resembles Cayden Primeau’s a lot. But he’s smaller in stature, which seems to be an issue in today’s NHL.
4- Evgenii Dadonov
This will come across as a fairy tale story in addition to a prediction but here it goes… Dadonov will soon be given permission to talk to other teams about a potential trade, then he will be placed on waivers just before trade deadline. He will then agree to have his contract terminated once he sees that he had no takers, instead of being sent to the AHL. Either that, or he will mysteriously go on LTIR for the rest of the season. Either way, he won’t suit up for the Canadiens comes March 4th and beyond. By March 4th, the Canadiens will have 20 games remaining to their season, so Dadonov, if terminated, would forfeit approximately $1.5 million. Okay, that prediction might not happen…
5- Veterans staying put
Josh Anderson, Jake Allen, Mike Hoffman and Christian Dvorak, all in trade rumours at one point or another, will still be with the Canadiens on March 4th, after trade deadline. The Canadiens will revisit trying to move Hoffman during the off-season and if they can’t, they might even buy him out at that point. But I fully anticipate that the other three will be at training camp in October 2023… unless the Habs have a change of hearts and re-sign Monahan, then Dvorak will be traded.
6- Second round pick coming
The career-ending injury to Carey Price has put the organization in deep trouble, even forcing them to do what this new management team is doing, rebuilding. Right now, every single prospect the Canadiens has in net has been drafted in the fifth round or further and at the NHL level right now, you have a career 1B in Jake Allen and a waiver pick-up in Sam Montembeault. So my prediction is that in one of his upcoming trades, Kent Hughes will go get a an additional second round pick, and he will ultimately use one of his seconds to select a good goalie prospects at this summer’s NHL Draft.
Like with any prediction, all or none of them could come true of course. I am not one to pretend knowing the future as we too often see on social media. And that’s why I entitled it a prediction game, as games are for fun and entertainment purposes. With that in mind, I hope that you’ve enjoyed and I would be curious to know your own predictions along the same lines.