Trades And Salary Cap Dump Prove Challenging

As we are well aware, there are plenty of rumours surrounding the Montreal Canadiens. While nothing has yet to materialize, it doesn’t mean that talks aren’t happening as they certainly are. As the team isn’t anywhere close to being competitive, the pressure is mounting for the Canadiens to do something… anything. They have finally fired Dominique Ducharme to replace him with Martin St. Louis but the team needs help on the ice. It’s fun to toy around on social media and exchange on trade rumours or on pure speculations. After all, what else are fans to do when games aren’t enjoyable to watch?

Trade protection

For example, I have read that when Jaroslav Halak plays his next game with the Vancouver Canucks, he will be owed a $1.25 million bonus and he has another performance bonus of $250,000 if he keeps a saves percentage of .905 or higher. I made the suggestion that it would be great to get Halak back in Montreal for the rest of the season. That’s until someone rightfully pointed out that Jaro has a no-movement clause (NMC) to his contract. No reason for him to waive it to come to Montreal. On a side note, who in their right mind gives a backup goaltender a NMC?

Jaroslav Halak

Then one of my followers shared a great idea. What about Mikko Koskinen from the Edmonton Oilers, as a cap dump in a bigger deal? That’s makes tons of sense since Koskinen is in the final year of his contract paying him a whooping $4.5 million cap hit. But wait… when I looked closer, the Oilers’ scapegoat has a modified no-trade clause (M-NTC) where he must submit a list of 15 teams where he won’t accept to be traded. What are the odds that Montreal is on that list, you think?

So unless the team manages to convince their player(s) to waive to come to the circus that is Montreal, it would likely take a clown to accept to do so. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, fans, media and teams will have to look at players without a trade clause in their contract in any trades with the Canadiens, even when it comes to cap dump in bigger deals.

Teams specific examples

We know that the Vegas Golden Knights are needing to make room for the return of Jack Eichel whom, according to Pierre LeBrun, should be back playing within a couple of weeks. Vegas must clear cap space to make room for Eichel. If they are to trade with a team like the Habs, it means that you can pretty much eliminate William Kalsson, Evgeni Dadonov, Alec Martinez and even perhaps Jonathan Marchessault (unless he waives to play at home), who all have so trade clauses. It would pretty much only leave Reilly Smith, who is a pending UFA.

In Tampa Bay, forget Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn or Ryan McDonagh (not that any would be targeted by the Habs) which leaves only Anthony Cirelli or Erik Cernak.

In Washington, it eliminates Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov, leaving Lars Eller, Carl Hagelin, Justin Schultz and Nick Jensen with somewhat substantial contracts without a trade clause.

The Panthers are interesting as they have few players with trade protection and those who have it wouldn’t be available. So it would be open season if they needed to send salary back in any type of trade. 

John Klingberg

Out west, you have the Dallas Stars who have their top forwards with trade clause, including Alexander Radulov and Radek Faksa. Pending UFA John Klingberg doesn’t have trade protection but he’s a pending UFA so unless the Habs can negotiate with him and re-sign him prior to a trade, forget about him.

Calgary has been in trade rumours with the Canadiens. Most of their top forwards have trade protection, leaving Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dubé. On defense, only Chris Tanev has a M-NTC. 

St. Louis is also in rumours for Habs’ players. At forward, Ryan O’Reilly, Pavel Buchnevich, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Oskar Sundqvist and Ivan Barbashev lack trade protection and they all make over $2 million per season. Only Colton Parayko has no trade protection but he just signed a contract extension which starts next season. That makes them a good trade partner candidate for the Canadiens.

There are more I’m sure, but this gives you an idea of what Kent Hughes might be dealing with when it comes to completing trades, limiting the potential cap dump coming back to Montreal in any trade. Now add to this the Canadiens’ own NMC and NTC, limiting where they would accept to be traded to and you have a pretty puzzle to navigate your way through in order to complete trades. But every team has to deal with this and the best GMs find ways… Jeff Gorton did back in 2018 while with the New York Rangers, remember.

More reading…

Organizational Analysis by Bob Trask

Rookie GM, Rookie Coach – 1995 Flashback

Seravalli: 5 Canadiens’ Players Most Likely to Leave