Summer of Lateral Moves for Hughes

By JD Lagrange – Well here we are, all set for yet another hockey season. For Habs’ fans everywhere, it’s a time of dissension once again. Some wish for the team to go through another miserable season to, hopefully, get another high draft pick. For most (my assumption here based on social media), fans wish for some kind of improvement over the past two – miserable- seasons.

Canadiens’ General Manager Kent Hughes has completed a few trades to adjust his roster, prospect pool and draft picks. But how successful of a summer was it for the second year GM? Let’s dive right into it, shall we?

Summer of 2023 – Trades

Hughes has completed five NHL trades this off-season.

June 27, 2023:

In their biggest trade of the summer, the Canadiens acquired Alex Newhook for prospect defenseman Gianni Fairbrother, a 1st round pick (#31) and early 2nd round pick (#37).

Analysis: Fairbrother had no chance in Montreal but the two picks were good ones. Newhook better work out…

July 1st, 2023:

Hughes then traded veteran defenseman Joel Edmundson (50% cap retained) to the Washington Capitals for a 3rd round pick and 7th round pick. 

Analysis: Perhaps Hughes’ best trade of the summer and here’s why: he created a spot on defense while shedding $1.75M of cap space. Definitely a good trade.

August 6, 2023:

The Canadiens’ GM convinced his counter-parts in Pittsburgh and San Jose to be the third wheel to facilitate a big trade, one involving Erik Karlsson. Hughes ended up trading Mike Hoffman and Rem Pitlick and received Jeff Petry, Casey DeSmith, Nathan Légaré and a 2nd round pick.

Analysis: When the dust settled on this trade, the Habs added $890,000 to their cap.

August 15, 2023:

It quickly became evident that the Canadiens had no intention in bringing back Petry, who had requested a trade from Montreal just a few months earlier. So Hughes traded the veteran defenseman to his home state of Michigan, getting defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and a 4th round pick from the Red Wings.

Analysis: The Canadiens had to retain 50% of Petry’s salary ($2.34M) to make this happen. Ultimately, it’s like getting Lindstrom for $3.29M instead of the $950k he’s making, to gain a 4th…

September 19, 2023: 

In a trade consumed a few days ago, Hughes traded newly acquired goaltender Casey DeSmith to Vancouver for Tanner Pearson and a 3rd round pick. 

Analysis: So the Canadiens traded a goalie they didn’t need and took on a forward that they didn’t need either, while adding $1.45M to the cap… for a 3rd.

Value of draft picks

Of course, you will always have those who value draft picks more than they should, ignoring the statistical analysis of the value (or lack of thereof) of any pick outside the first round. So allow me to refresh your memory.

According a research done by Dobber Prospects (in 2020), here are the odds of draft picks making it to the NHL and playing at least 100 games, per round selected:



So when the dust settled at the start of training camp, here’s what the big picture looks like for the Habs and Kent Hughes:

Alex NewhookFMike Hoffman
Tanner PearsonFRem Pitlick
Gustav LindstromDJoel Edmundson
Nathan LégaréProspectGianni Fairbrother
2024 3rd (MIN)2023 1st (#31)
2024 7th (WSH)2023 2nd (#37)
2025 2nd (PIT)
2025 3rd (VAN)
2025 4th (DET)

No matter how we try to twist this, Hughes made one good trade (Edmundson). The others are heavily hinging on Alex Newhook becoming a good NHL player, let’s face it.

While the number of picks acquired may seem impressive, the Canadiens traded away the best two picks (and odds of becoming NHL players) and received a bunch of picks that aren’t as likely to play in the league one day.

Last but not least, if the goal was to create roster spots or shed salary, the Canadiens’ GM has not accomplished any of it. At least not at the time of writing this. So while many are still on the honeymoon stage and feel like everything management does is gold, on the big scheme of things, this was a very underwhelming summer for Hughes and the Canadiens. But the off-season isn’t quite over yet… fingers crossed.

Hold My Beer – Six Pack Camp Edition

By JD Lagrange – Rookie Camp is set to start on Wednesday, September 13, with medical and fitness testing at the CN Sports Complex in Brossard. Then, the Habs hopefuls will travel to Buffalo on September 14 to take part in the 2023 Prospects Challenge from September 15-18. The rookie tournament also includes rookies from the Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Surprise candidates

Every year, you have players who have good training camps and make the organization think twice before cutting them. And with the numerous quality prospects in the system, we can expect much of the same. It is even possible that there could be a few who will open the eyes of the Canadiens’ decision-makers this year.

I have dressed a list of half a dozen young men who could do this, or at least get further up the radar than they currently are and that, for different reasons.


Davidson had a good camp a year ago but the Canadiens decided to send him back to junior with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL where he had a great season. Assuming more a role of a leader, the Canadiens’ fifth round pick in 2020 accumulated 38 goals and 82 points in 60 games. He plays much bigger than his 6-foot, 183 lbs frame suggests and he’s not afraid to go in traffic. The Edmonton-native just turned 21 in July and will most likely start the season in Laval, but rest assured that he’s planning on leaving a good impression with Martin St-Louis and the Habs’ brass.


Much as been said about Reinbacher since the Canadiens, for a second year in a row, went against what the majority of fans wanted and selected him with the 5th overall selection at the NHL Draft. To be fair, few knew much about him and we ensured to help fans discover him in an earlier article. The 6-foot 2-inches 18 year old defenseman has received much praize from people around the NHL since the Draft and fans are warming up to him, particularly seeing Matvei Michkov being a healthy scratch in three of his team’s four games in the KHL, and seeing the ice for only six minutes in the game in which he was dressed. It is doubtful to see Reinbacher make the big club but I’m fully expecting to see him do well.


Beck open the eyes of many at camp last year but was sent back to his OHL junior team. After being traded to Peterborough, his offence plummeted. His style of play is mature and that’s why many feel like he could make the jump to the NHL sooner than later. But much like the Canadiens did with Nick Suzuki after the 2018 camp, I’m expecting that they will return Beck to junior with a list of things to work on, including his offense. After all, it didn’t hurt Suzuki one bit, did it?


When he was drafted, there were a lot of question marks about Roy and that’s why he slipped to the fifth round. But let’s give credit where credit is due, the young man took his career in his own hands and put in the necessary work to succeed. He got into a better shape, and worked on different aspects of his game, to the point that he’s been one of the CHL’s top players the past couple of years. He outshined most players at the last World Junior Championship, being a key contributor for Team Canada. The St-Georges-de-Beauce native, who just turned 20 in August, is set to give it all to stay in Montreal straight from camp and seeing what he’s done the past couple of years, I wouldn’t be too quick to count him out.


Let’s admit it, Marc Bergevin knew what he was doing when he took advantage of Mailloux falling in the 2021 Draft to select him at #31 overall. The then Canadiens’ GM knew that it would cause controversy (for the reasons that we know) and did it anyway because he knew the type of player, and even character, the young man had. Now, seeing the work that Mailloux has put in off-ice to improve (and prove) himself, most have rallied behind the player, or at least agree to give him a second chance. And the 6-foot 3-inches, 212 lbs defenseman intends on showing why Bergevin took that chance. Both key player development personnel Rob Ramage and Francis Bouillon have, not long ago, qualified Mailloux as the Canadiens’ prospect the closest to being NHL-ready.


Admittedly, this guy is my long-shot. He had a great camp a year ago and went back to Europe to work on his game. At the end of his SHL season, Heineman joined the Laval Rocket where he was a dominant player for Jean-François Houle, who said that the young Swede was NHL-ready. Good skater with strong hockey IQ, there’s a maturity to his game that you don’t often see from a 21 year-old. He has been playing against men in the SHL for a couple of years now, and that should be a definite advantage for him. I’m actually expecting Heineman to make the big club from camp.

There you have it folks. There are plenty of other young men who could cause a surprise, but those are the six I feel can really open some eyes, with some of them having a legitimate shot at forcing the hand of Kent Hughes to make room for them. It all starts this upcoming week. Hockey is back!