Meet The Newcomers

By JD Lagrange – As training camp gets underway, there is one shiny new toy that is on everyone’s mind – and rightfully so – and that’s this year’s first overall pick, Juraj Slafkovsky. But he’s not the only new face at camp this year as four other very good players are going through the motions at the Canadiens’ training facility in Brossard for the first time.

So without further ado, let’s meet meet Mike Matheson, Kirby Dach, Sean Monahan and Evgenii Dadonov. The scouting reports are from Sportsforecaster.com.

MIKE MATHESON
POSITION:DefenseAGE:28
SHOOTS:LeftHEIGHT:6’2″
WEIGHT:188 lbs

Scouting Report: Has all the skills needed to be a solid two-way defenseman but has yet to develop the consistency needed to thrive at the NHL level. Is very mobile and aggressive with good offensive abilities. However, he drives coaches crazy at times by getting caught out of position. Needs to improve his defensive-zone coverage to make the most of his attacking skills. Can play big minutes in any situation, so he does have value.

Matheson was acquired in the trade that sent Jeff Petry to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With Joel Edmundson, he provides quality top-4 play from the left side of the defense. This is perhaps his biggest opportunity to step into a major role as the Canadiens certainly don’t have the defense that Pittsburgh had.

KIRBY DACH
POSITION:CenterAGE:21
SHOOTS:RightHEIGHT:6’4″
WEIGHT:197 lbs

Scouting Report: The third player taken in the 2019 draft was in the NHL as an 18-year-old and shows increasing flashes of why he was so highly regarded as he moves into his early 20s. He is big, skates well and is strong on the puck, a trait that should get even better as he matures. Is an excellent passer but must learn to take more shots in order to keep opponents from dropping off him in coverage. Has been plagued by injuries, including a broken wrist.

The only reason why Dach was traded by the Chigago Blackhawks is… who knows what the Hawks are doing? They also traded 24 year-old, two-times 40 goals’ scorer Alex DeBrincat! Yes, Dach’s development was slowed down by serious injuries but the skills didn’t go away. How many big 21 year-old centers are there on the market? This has the potential to be a homerun by rookie GM Kent Hughes who gambled by giving Dach a four-year contract, with a cap hit of $3.36 million.

SEAN MONAHAN
POSITION:CenterAGE:27
SHOOTS:LeftHEIGHT:6’2″
WEIGHT:200 lbs

Scouting Report: Injuries, including surgery, have taken a toll on his game; he is no longer the scorer who put up seven straight 20-goal seasons. However, he still knows how to find the quiet spots on the ice to get his shot off and can still produce in a diminished role. Consistency remains an issue, and if he is not putting up points he is not likely making an impact on the game.

This one is mind boggling. The Canadiens did receive the Flames’ first round pick in order to take Monahan’s $6.375 million contract, but they already had a surplus of forwards on their roster. Even with Carey Price placed on LTIR, this acquisition puts the Canadiens right back against the cap, scrambling to create more room. If Monahan can return to form, the Canadiens could get a good return at trade deadline, as he’s scheduled to become a UFA next summer.

EVGENII DADONOV
POSITION:WingAGE:33
SHOOTS:LeftHEIGHT:5’11”
WEIGHT:185 lbs

Scouting Report: The Russian forward improved markedly after returning to the NHL following a stint in the KHL. Is very dangerous with the puck, owns a good shot and knows how to get it off quickly and accurately. Also, he complements other skilled forwards well. His biggest problems come when the opposition has the puck; he is often a defensive liability and lacks the size to win puck battles on a consistent basis.

Acquired in the cap dump of Shea Weber’s contract, Dadonov has one year left to his own contract, coming with a cap hit of $5 million. He will then become a UFA. He better not buy a house in Montreal as his stay is likely to be short lived, as he would be good trade bait at trade deadline. If you’re wondering what type of player he is, think Tomas Tatar.

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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.

Overview

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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