The Fourth Period has released its most recent trade watch list of the NHL’s top-30 players most likely to be traded this summer. Off that list, they have two Montreal Canadiens’ players: Jeff Petry sits at number five and Mike Hoffman is number 25. The also have Montreal as potential destinations for two Quebecois players from that list: Jets’ center Pierre-Luc Dubois and Islanders’ winger Anthony Beauvillier.
Based on that list and on the Canadiens’ needs, let’s have a look at which players Kent Hughes might – or perhaps should – have some level of interest for. In no particular order…
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Yesterday, we mentioned a few right-handed defensemen available on the free agents’ market. Barrie is a trade option as the Oilers are trying to shed some cap space, and already have Evan Bouchard and Codi Ceci on the right side. He has two years left to his very affordable contract which lacks trade protection.
He puts up points on a consistent basis like few other NHL defensemen thanks to his mobility, offensive instincts and an ability to quarterback the power play. It’s important to note that last season was the first time since 2013-14 that Barrie played under 21 minutes per game, due to sharing time with Bouchard and Ceci. He is clearly a capable top-4, although not known for his stellar defensive play.
I won’t hide it, I’ve always liked Dubois and I still do. Some are concerned that it would be his third team in a short period of time but he was playing under John Tortorella in Columbus, hated by most players. In Winnipeg, there’s something wrong in that dressing room. Blake Wheeler and Mark Sheifele don’t have the best reputations and head coach Paul Maurice abandoned the team (and his guaranteed contract) in mid-season. The only reason why the Jets would trade him is because he won’t re-sign with them beyond his UFA year and according to Elliotte Friedman, speaks openly in the dressing room wanting to play in Montreal.
Dubois, who just turned 24 in June, is 14 months older than Nick Suzuki so it would give the Habs a one-two punch at center immediately, which is not the case if they draft and develop another center. He’s a lefty (Suzuki shoots right) giving options for offensive zone faceoffs. Big, strong and talented, he owns excellent offensive instincts and can play either center or wing. He has the strength and speed to get to the front of the net and the skill to finish, and he is also a good passer. His 28 goals would have topped the Habs last year and his 60 points are one single point back of Suzuki who was best on the Canadiens.
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While the Red Wings are not actively shopping their captain, Steve Yzerman has just about everyone available including Larkin. Young veteran center with a 52.3% faceoffs success rate, he can play in all situation. He has speed to burn, making him a breakaway threat any time he has the puck in open space. He will go to the net and get his nose dirty. In his case though, he only has one year left to his contract so buyer beware. Better do your homework and see if you can extend him first.
The sixth player taken in the 2015 NHL Draft is a late bloomer who is finally beginning to show his talents as he approaches his prime. Standing at 6-foot 3-inches and 210 lbs, his size and strength make him tough to move in the offensive zone, and he is willing to go to the dirty areas. His shot is his biggest weapon. He is playing more limited quality minutes as he is behind Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, both centers, on the depth chart.
As we reported recently, the Canadiens are open to doing a flip of first round pick with the Devils, who apparently want to ensure selecting Juraj Slavkovsky. As the Devils are deep at center, perhaps the cost of flipping the first and second overall pick between the two teams could be New Jersey adding Zacha?
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I like Comtois, I won’t deny it. At 6-foot 2-inches, 215 lbs, the Longueuil, Quebec native is a big-bodied forward who is also quick and skilled. He is reliable in all three zones, sees the ice well and generates scoring chances for himself and his linemates. He is more than willing to go to the front of the net and is useful on the power play.
He had a very tough season last year and was even a healthy scratch at times. He did manage 16 goals and 33 points in 55 games the previous season, his first full one in the NHL. I loved what I saw of him at the recent World Championship. He was one of Team Canada’s most consistent forwards.
Kent Hughes is on record saying that he wants to add a veteran goaltender as insurance in case Carey Price can’t start the season. Having lost his starter’s position to Igor Shesterkin, the pending RFA Georgiev is on the trading block as the Rangers have several UFAs to sign. Reports everywhere claim that they are asking too much in return but if the asking price drops, he could be a good option for the Canadiens.
This is my personal preferred option for the Canadiens’ needs. The former first round pick has yet to live up to expectations but he has shown flashes of what he’s capable. It is not unusual to see goaltenders coming into their own between the age of 25-28 so Samsonov would be a very good gamble. And if Price comes back, Jake Allen could be used as trade bait.
There are a few more trade options that didn’t make TFP’s list and that I would strongly pursue. Guys like Vitali Kravtsov in New York, for example, or John Marino in Pittsburgh, Ethan Bear in Carolina, or even Filip Zadina in Detroit.
So if you include the list of pending unrestricted free agents we put together yesterday, combined with this list today, it provides a pretty good pool of good candidate to not only improve the team next year, but for years to come.