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.

Entry Draft – Team Rankings

By Bob Trask – As the end of the NHL playoffs inch closer, more and more fans will be turning their attention to the NHL entry draft and wondering what the prospects for their favorite team will be. Montreal Canadiens fans focus on the #5 overall pick and the fact that Kent Hughes currently holds eleven picks in the upcoming draft. But how does that stack up with the rest of the league?

I did a little exercise that awarded points to each team based on the following. While it is an arbitrary assignment of values, it does provide food for thought.

  • First round picks – 6 points
  • Second round picks – 4 points
  • Third round picks – 3 points
  • Fourth and fifth round picks – 2 points
  • Sixth and Seventh round picks – 1 point
  • First overall pick – 9 bonus points
  • Second to fifth overall pick – 6 bonus points
  • Sixth to tenth overall pick – 3 bonus points

I’ve presented this will little comment but this draft holds the potential to shift the balance of power in the NHL down the road.

The Top Ten

Chicago Blackhawks47
Nashville Predators40
Arizona Coyotes39
San Jose Sharks37
Montreal Canadiens37
Detroit Red Wings36
Anaheim Ducks35
Columbus Blue Jackets35
St Louis Blues33
Seattle Kraken28

The surprise here might be the Nashville Predators who quietly acquired a multitude of early round picks.

The Middle Twelve

Philadelphia Flyers24
Buffalo Sabers23
Carolina Hurricanes21
Vancouver Canucks19
Minnesota Wild18
Washington Capitals18
Calgary Flames14
Vegas Golden Knights14
Winnipeg Jets14
Pittsburgh Penguins14
Los Angeles Kings12
New York Rangers12

Bottom Ten

Colorado Avalanche10
Dallas Stars10
New Jersey Devils10
New York Islanders10
Florida Panthers10
Toronto Maple Leafs9
Edmonton Oilers8
Boston Bruins8
Ottawa Senators7
Tampa Bay Lightning3


This table exposes some glaring differences among the current draft capital of varying teams. Having said that, trades can substantially alter the landscape but some teams are going to struggle to add talent on draft day.

Given the perceived depth of this draft and the uncertainty surrounding Russian players there are bound to be a few surprises. Some teams will perform better at the draft than what shows in this ranking and some will fall short.

Keep on eye on the post draft commentary by the experts to find out who they rank as the winners and losers in the 2023 NHL entry draft!