Trade Scenarios With 7 Teams

By JD Lagrange – With the news coming out that the Canadiens have acquired 23 year-old left-handed defenseman Nicolas Beaudin, giving up on center Cam Hillis in the process, we can expect anything to happen. Further, last night at the Bell Centre, there were several scouts in the stands taking on the game against the Minnesota Wild.

The acquisition of Beaudin, aside from his place of birth, is rather mind boggling. With the likes of Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj, Otto Leskinen, Mattias Norlinder, Lane Hutson, Jayden Struble, William Trudeau, Adam Engström and Petteri Nurmi already in the system, the Canadiens need another young left-handed defenseman like they need a hole in the head.

Having three scouts from Anaheim, and two from both New Jersey and Edmonton is very intriguing. Off those teams, we will touch on Edmonton further down, as an option. The other two are not Cup contenders and of the two, only the Ducks have plenty of cap space available to take a contract. I’m not sure what the Canadiens would want from the Devils but keep an eye on Max Comtois, who has one goal and is playing less than 12 minutes a game.

Options on RD

Deep on left defense and on the wing at all levels, the combination of Marc Bergevin’s drafting and Kent Hughes continuation has added much needed depth at center as well. Even with the play of Johnathan Kovacevic, and the developing of Justin Barron and Logan Mailloux, the Canadiens’ glaring need, for now and in the future, is clearly for right-handed defensemen.

And that’s what we’ll be focussing on more in this article. The following options are in no particular order by the way. Well, my “out of left field option” at the end is where my heart truly is…

VEGAS Option

TARGET: Daniil Miromanov

Surprisingly enough, the Golden Knights have been very stingy defensively so far. But they don’t score enough goals on offense. The issue is mostly on their bottom six, where the production simply isn’t present. The third line of Amato, Howden, Kessel have combined for two goals all season.

TAMPA BAY Option

TARGET: Nick Perbix

Few expected this, but the Lightning needs help with secondary scoring but also, they allow too many goals. On 2nd line, Stamkos has 7 goals but his linemates, Namestnikov and Killhorn, have one goal combined. The third line of Colton, Paul and Maroon have two goals amongst them.

EDMONTON Option

TARGET: Tyson Barrie

Tyson Barrie

The Oilers score goals as easily as another team in the NHL. It’s defensively that they are struggling a bit more. Yet, their defense has much improved over the past few seasons and much like the old Flyers, they have yet to address their need in net but the Canadiens can’t help there. Good defensive forwards or a better defensive defenseman would go a long way for the Oilers. Edmonton has Evan Bouchard and Cody Ceci on the right side as well, and neither is a third pair defenseman.

For the Canadiens, Barrie would be a great stop-gap until Barron or Mailloux are ready. He would help with this anemic power play and he comes at a very reasonable cap hit too.

CAROLINA Option

TARGET: Ethan Bear

The Canes have a great defense and Bear cannot find a spot and wants to play. It’s on offense that they could use some help with secondary scoring. Second line center Kotkaniemi has no goals and only two assists. The bottom six forwards have a combined two goals together.

For Montreal, Bear is an improvement over everyone currently on the right side except maybe Savard, but he has a higher upside than the Canadiens big defenseman obviously.

LA KINGS Options

TARGETS:

The Kings could use help both with goals’ scoring and defensively. They allow way too many goals right now and we know that it’s not a goaltending issue. They could use some secondary scoring and an improvement on the left side of their defense.

COLORADO Option

TARGET: Samuel Girard (LD)

Newhook is the Avs’ second line center (0 pts, 30.4% FO), Compher is their third line center (1 pts, 47.7% FO). Due to Gabriel Landeskog’s injury (out at least 12 weeks), Lehkonen is filling in on top line left and as well as he is playing, that’s not his seat, particularly not for that long.

As mentioned before, the Canadiens don’t need a left-handed defenseman. But Girard is still young, so he fits in with the core, and he brings more offense than what they already have.

Out of left field

CHICAGO Option

Seth Jones

TARGET: Seth Jones

I know that this won’t sit well with many people in the Canadiens’ fan base but much like Shea Weber while in Nashville, Jones is my favourite defenseman. He brings much of what Weber brought to the table with his all-around game. Yes, he has a high cap hit but sometimes, you must pay for what you have. The Cap will be going up and Jones, in my opinion, would be a great investment. A true number one defenseman for years to come. A Guhle-Jones pairing for years to come gets me drooling…

Conclusion

The likeliness of any of those trades being consummated are very slim, admittedly. Completing trades between now and trade deadline is not an easy task, particularly not with having 19 teams with less than a million dollars of cap space.

The Canadiens have a huge surplus of wingers, left-handed defensemen and they still hold 11 picks at the upcoming NHL Draft. That’s a lot of assets to complete a substantial trade to address a need.

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Three Players to Target Right Now

By JAG – Like every fan, at one time or another, I find that some players on other team would look rather good in a Habs’ uniform. Just wishful thinking you might say, but here it is. My short list of targets and why I think a trade can and should happen.

LAWSON CROUSE, 25 years old, 6’4’’, 220 lbs, LW, ARIZONA

He is a bruising top-9 forward that scored 20 goals for the Coyotes. As a junior, he was named ‘’The Marshall’’ by his teammates for his discipline and leadership. Getting out of Arizona could be the trigger for him to blossom into the dominating player that he can be. Picture him on a ‘’deluxe’’ third line with any of the Habs centers and Anderson on the right side, Schtroumphs (or Smurfs) no-more I say!

Arizona is weak at center past the top two lines. Dvorak could be that center and give the Yotes a good veteran to support a young team. Also, Arizona is rich in good prospect that are very young and will not be NHL ready for a few years. Montreal has a number of good college prospects that are almost at the NHL ready stage. Tuch, Biondi, Struble or Farrell could help Arizona as early as the end of this year. If need be, they and other assets can be used as a sweetener to also move another veteran player’s salary to the Yotes and/or acquire picks. This is an avenue I would explore as it would benefit the team on the ice and Cap management for the upstairs people.

JORDAN SPENCE, 21 years old, 5’11’’, 175 lbs, RD, LA

He’s not a big man but his game has grown by leaps and bounds since he was drafted. A product of the QMJHL, it’s not surprising that pundits questioned his play without the puck in his draft year. They always do for players from the Q. Well…. questionable no more! His AHL play last year was good enough to get him a lengthy trial in the BIG. At the age of 20, he played with men all year. He put up 42 points in the AHL with a +18 rating and he put up 8 points in LA in the 24 games he played in the BIG. Even considering his size, this type of player is NOT normally available ….

Unless you’re LA and you have prospects named Helge Grans and Brent Clarke. Both jumbo sized, highly talented RDs that jumped over Jordan Spence in the Kings depth chart the minute they were drafted. Another reason why the trade could be done is that LA is very short on NHL-ready talent at left defense. Outside of Tobias Bjornfot and an aging Alex Edler, it’s pretty slim. Finally, Spence was drafted in the fourth round. It is always easier for management to justify a low draft pick trade to improve the team now.

The best deal would be a swap of defensemen that doesn’t impact the Cap for either teams. Montreal would have to include a left defenseman that has NHL experience. Norlinder or Scheunaman would fit the bill but LA would also require another prospect and/or a mid-draft pick to make it a fair trade. Notwithstanding this steeper price, in my opinion, Spence is definitely worth it and he would greatly improve the RD depth chart for the Habs for years to come.

MAXIME COMTOIS, 23 years old, 6’2’’, 215 lbs, LW/RW, ANAHEIM

Maxime Comtois

He is a bruising top 9 forward that can score 20 goals. He can play both wings, he’s got wheels and grit and he’s in dire need of a change after a very ‘’hohum’’ season. Plus, he was rumoured to be on the trade market last season. Montreal needs this type of player. This would be a riskier acquisition but the upside is very interesting. For Anaheim, the third line would greatly benefit from a veteran experience to support Mason MacTavish’s first year in the NHL. Anaheim has Cap space and could use any of Drouin, Dadonov, Armia or Hoffman. A sweetener maybe in order, prospect or mid-draft pick but size, grit and speed are hard to teach. The trade is worth the risk.

IN CONCLUSION

Montreal is still small and they have a plethora of smaller, talented players in the pipeline. Many past managers have tried to build a contender with teams smaller than the league average. They were entertaining to be sure and some of these teams got very close but, in the end, they all failed.

This management team has professed that they want to play quick and fast and they have also recruited for size that can play this way. Signing Condotta shows the same philosophy as drafting Slafkovski, big men that can play a fast pace game. Of course, their upside is vastly different but Condotta may become a great fourth liner, prized by fans and management alike, the same way that Slafs can become a top liner prized by fans and management alike, it’s all part of the PLAN. 

Drafting big men that can play this style is not always feasible, they are a prized commodity! And the better a team gets, the lower the draft picks become and choice becomes limited. So, if you’re a manager, trading for this kind of player remains the best option …. And grabbing them when you can remains the best strategy! The same can be said for young, extremely mobile and offensively gifted defensemen. So, if you’re smart, you draft for talent, you trade for position, that’s how you make it work.

All three players I targeted fit immediate and long term needs for the Habs. They fit the right age bracket for this group and improve the team at two positions. Now you know why I would target them.

Thanks for reading,

Keep your stick on the ice, the puck is coming.

JAG

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