By JD Lagrange – We are 29 days away from the March 3rd NHL trade deadline and rumours are swirling across the league, as they always do at this time of year. One of the biggest fish in the rumour ocean has been caught already, but there are plenty of other fish available. The Vancouver Canucks sent team captain Bo Horvat packing while receiving Anthony Beauvilier, Aatu Raty and a protected first round pick from the New York Islanders in return.
Islanders’ GM Lou Lamoriello has obviously learned from the Florida Panthers last year, ensuring that his first round pick was lottery protected. The Canadiens had traded Ben Chiarot to the Cats in a package which included an unprotected first round pick and up until recently, Florida was in danger of “winning” the Connor Bedard lottery.
Speaking of the Habs, they will find themselves being in a seller’s position once again this year and they have a few interesting pieces to offer. What is very unfortunate for GM Kent Hughes however, is that his two biggest trade assets come with huge question marks due to injuries. Had Sean Monahan and Joel Edmundson been healthy, they could have fetched a good return but the uncertainty surrounding their health situation will inevitably affect the return.
Who and what?
I have mentioned in many occasions that I did not believe that neither Jake Allen or Josh Anderson would be traded, and I still strongly believe that. Although we do read some pretty crazy stuff on social media. Here’s an example I found this morning…
If Hughes gets that return, I think all Habs’ fans will offer to help Andy pack his bags and drive him to the airport, even those like me who love what he brings! But seriously, let’s look at who might get traded by trade deadline and what we can expect as a return. Be prepared to be underwhelmed, folks.
|CONTRACT:||$5.5M – UFA||ASSISTS:||12|
I feel for Drouin, I truly do. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. But things being what they are, he’s injured again and while he does bring something to the table when healthy (unlike Dadonov), he’s likely not often healthy enough to draw much interest. And with so many teams tight against the cap, his cap hit is too high for a team to want to give up something to get him, even for a playoffs’ push.
Return: The Canadiens are unlikely going to find takers for Drouin, even with half of his salary retained. Combination of health and contract are two hurdles very difficult to overlook. Don’t be surprised if he disappears on the LTIR to finish his last season in a Habs’ uniform. What was supposed to be a dream turning into a nightmare for the Ste-Agathe native and the fans. A rare 100% lost big trade by Marc Bergevin.
While he recently showed that he does indeed have a pulse, it is very much an irregular heartbeat and teams won’t know if or when his heart will completely stop ticking. Afraid of his own shadow, he is definitely not built for NHL playoffs. Even if the Canadiens were to keep half his salary (the maximum allowed by the CBA), there is no guarantee that a team would take a flyer on him at $2.5 million.
Return: Habs’ fans should be happy if the team gets anything at all for Dadonov but my guess is that he is carries a negative value and will finish his contract (and the season) with the Habs. I’m just hoping that when everyone is healthy, he is not taking the spot of a younger player trying to prove himself.
|CONTRACT:||$6.375M – UFA||ASSISTS:||11|
When the Canadiens acquired Monahan from the Flames, it’s the first round pick that they wanted. But they got more than they expected as the Brampton native provided them with some very good hockey prior to being shut down due to a foot injury. His 17 points in 25 games was on pace for 56 points on the season, his best since 2018-19. He can play the power play, penalty kill and win you faceoffs in every zone. His injuries, however, will be putting a huge question mark for any team wanting to acquire him, even if his hips seem to be holding up. It’s to wonder if the Habs are still considering extending him.
Return: Prior to being sidelined, the Canadiens could have easily gotten a first round pick for Monahan, maybe more depending if he would have kept his production. But having been shut down since December 5th and no dates of return yet, his value has plummeted big time. Even with half salary retained ($3.19M), it will be a bit of a stretch to expect much. Good thing the Habs already got a first with him in the original trade!
|CONTRACT:||$4.45M until 2024-25||ASSISTS:||13|
If the Canadiens decide to keep Monahan, which seems more unlikely, they could very well trade Dvorak. Although they could wait to the upcoming off-season to make that decision, centers who can win faceoffs are always in high demand by trade deadline and a team might be tempted to make an offer Hughes couldn’t refuse. Waiting to the off-season to see if they can get Pierre-Luc Dubois might be the smarter move.
Return: I think that the Canadiens could get a first round pick for Dvorak from a team desperate for help at the center position, but not much more. The question Hughes needs to ask himself is if it’s worth jeopardizing his newfound depth at that position.
|CONTRACT:||$4.5M until 2023-24||ASSISTS:||9|
While Hoffman has more highs and lows than a toddler learning to walk, his nine goals in 37 games is the equivalent of 20 goals on an 82-games season. He has shown that his shot is still as good and could provide secondary scoring and help on a second unit power play. The hick? He has one year left to his contract and while Hughes doesn’t want to retain salary for more than part of a season, he might be well served to retain around $1.5 million instead of buying him out. Something to think about. At $3 million, a team might take a chance.
Return: Getting little might just be an addition by subtraction in this case. It would free up some cap space for next season and even for the following season if they planned on buying him out. I’d be happy with a 3rd or 4th round pick, but a later pick would be fine too. Or an expiring contract even.
|CONTRACT:||$3.5M until 2023-24||ASSISTS:||5|
Edmundson’s biggest qualities are his defensive presence, his shot blocking and atop his 6-foot 5-inches and 224 lbs frame, he’s a tough customer. He can eat up big minutes in a shutdown role and can make up for a more offensive defense partner’s shortfalls in his zone. He is also a Stanley Cup winner and was relied on heavily by the Habs in their 2021 Cup run. The issue? A bad back, which saw him miss training camp and the first few weeks of the season. He is out again with an upper-body injury, which could be his back again.
Return: There is no doubt in my mind that the Canadiens could have gotten a first round pick and and good prospect for Edmundson prior to him getting injured again. Now, teams will be concerned once again about his health status and they might be more reluctant to throw big assets on a guy they don’t know if he will be able to play. Maybe a first, but maybe less than that. It might be better keeping him until this summer if they can’t get a first.
The 33 year-old veteran has yet to play this season after some unsuccessful hip surgeries. He is on LTIR and a team could be interested in acquiring his $3.4 million contract to allow them to add another piece to their line-up. He is a UFA at the end of the season.
Return: A first round pick would be nice, but a decent prospect closer to the NHL might be even better and more realistic.
There you have it. I refuse to include Anderson and Allen, unless the Canadiens get a gross overpayment. In Allen’s case, it would take a top goaltending prospect closer to being NHL-ready… and even then.