Two Big Off-Season Gambles

By Bob Trask – Kent Hughes recognized that the Montreal Canadiens needed help at center and moved to address that problem with a couple of moves that could be considered gambles. The first was the acquisition of Kirby Dach on draft day and the second was the acquisition of Sean Monahan from the Calgary Flames.

Kirby Dach

The Dach acquisition could be considered the bigger gamble of the two and required a couple of trades to get it done. Montreal traded Alexander Romanov and a 4th round pick (who turned out to be Isaiah George) for the Islanders #13 overall pick (who turned out be be Frank Nazar). They then turned around and traded the #13 overall pick and a 3rd round pick (who turned out to be Gavin Hayes) to Chicago for Kirby Dach.

Tallying up the results, Kent Hughes traded Alexander Romanov, Frank Nazar, Gavin Hayes and Isaiah George to acquire Kirby Dach. When you examine the trade in that light, it was a major move in an attempt to beef up the center ice position. Based on his play in the NHL to date, it was a lot to give up for Dach but the Canadiens have to be gambling on him reaching his potential. If he does, the gamble pays off.

Sean Monahan

Sean Monahan

The Monahan situation is more akin to buying a lottery ticket with the extra than going all in on a game of Texas holdem. If Monahan doesn’t work out, the Canadiens are out nothing has they still have a chance to win on the extra with the first round pick they acquired in the deal. The cost of the lottery ticket was nothing more than Monahan’s salary, which might be a financial burden but the Canadiens did not have to give up any prospects or picks.

While the odds are long, this trade could be a very, very big win for the Canadiens. In the 2018-19 season, Monahan finished 23rd overall in league scoring as a 24 year old. Players often peak at around 28 years, which is what Monahan will be this season. What makes a rebound to this level unlikely is that fact that Monahan is recovering from two hip surgeries.


Maybe a better way to look at these trades is to combine them and measure the overall cost to the Canadiens.

Players and picks acquired:

  • Kirby Dach
  • Sean Monahan
  • 1st round draft pick

Players and picks moved:

  • Alexander Romanov
  • Frank Nazar (1st round pick)
  • Gavin Hayes (3rd round pick)
  • Isaiah George (4th round pick)

If the first round picks more or less balance out in the long run, then Montreal have given up Romanov, Hayes and George for Dach and Monahan. It was a nice piece of work by Kent Hughes and given the organizational depth on left defense, the trade re-balanced the talent in the organization.

One thing is certain – the trades did not hurt the Canadiens. But it’s still a gamble because if the Canadiens are to be successful, at least one of Dach or Monahan will have to reach their FULL potential… but they were definitely gambles worth taking.

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Quick Takes On The First Round

By JAG – That’s it, the first round is over, the dust is settled, the deed is done.

First pick

The upside is displayed in plain sight. A giant, physical, skillful winger, with speed, moves and hands reminiscent of Jagr or Ovie, and he plays both wings! His body is NHL ready and he has played against men most of last season. He should play in Montreal this upcoming season.

Juraj Slafkovsky

My take on this. Dwarfs no more! The Habs are slowly turning into a steam roller. With the likes of Kayden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj just around the corner, playing Montreal will no longer be a walk in the park!

I advocated for trading the first pick and getting a young number one or number two center already in the NHL, preferably a big one that can put the puck in the net. I hoped for Pierre-Luc Dubois. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed. No matter, Juraj Slafkovsky brings to the table something that the Habs have been in dire need for almost a decade.

It’s a great pick! Without hesitation, I give it a big A!


Long story short, Mr. Hughes traded Alex Romanov, one of my favorite player, plus a high third round and a high fourth round for the 2019 third overall in one of the best draft years in a long time.

I was surprised. I didn’t think Chicago would ever part with Kirby Dach. He would have made my list instantly. I can see him becoming a Ryan O’Reilly type of player. This will give Montreal a very solid one-two punch at center. I can’t recall a time when Montreal had such a winning combination at center (potentially).

Kirby Dach

Losing Romanov is a bit of a drag but left side of the defense is probably the deepest position on the roster. So, good luck Romie, we loved you! But we finally got the big center we’ve wished for. All is good!

BTW, if you’re curious, as I was, look for the list of the top ten drafted along Kirby Dach that year. Once you’ve seen it, ask yourself this question. If Kirby had been in this year’s draft, what are the chances that he would have gone number one? You’ll probably say yes …. As I did!

In the end, I got my wish! I just had the wrong trade. And knowing now that Mr. Hughes had that ace up his sleeve the whole time (I can only presume), I now give him an A+ on the first pick …. And I give him an A+ on the trade.

I have to admit, he made a better deal that the one I proposed in  ‘’The Wright question – Montreal in a pickle’’. Not bad for a rookie GM!

Second pick

In this new era, Montreal seems to favor two types of players. What I already called the ‘’Dwarfs no more’’ type of players, Kirby Dach being the latest addition to that list and the ‘’Shifty, speedy, scory’’ type of players. Filip Mesar being a good example of the style. You can also list the names of Emil Heineman, Riley Kidney, Joshua Roy and Jan Mysak under this banner.

This pick also gets an A!


So, Montreal added skills, speed and size and, most importantly, one, maybe even two of the players acquired will play in the NHL this Fall.

That is what I call a jump start!

I’m starting to like these guys!

Last thoughts.

  • Big center, big winger, Hughes delivers!
  • Getting Kirby Dach makes room for a Dvorak trade tomorrow to start the day.
  • Jeff Petry may also come into play.
  • There are still some very good players to be had in the top half of the second round. Arizona has 3 picks in the second but have empty cupboards and are below the minimum Cap spending. Montreal has prospects – Farrell, Biondi, Tuch – and NHL players – Dvorak, Drouin, Hoffman – that could be packaged for a mutually profitable deal. I’d like to get Lawson Crouse in the return. Dwarfs no more I say!
  • Don’t be surprised to see some Quebecers and some right Ds on the menu for the Habs tomorrow.
  • My wish list includes Lucas Del Bel Belluz, Tristan Luneau, Rieger Lorenz, Noah Warren, Ryan Chesley, Ty Nelson, Elias Salomonsson and David Goyette.

Thanks for reading.

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