Ranking Trade Bait Probabilities

By JD Lagrange – In hockey, things can change in a hurry when it comes to player availability. Injuries, contract negotiations and performances by the player in question or others at the same position are just a couple of examples of how the dynamic of the value of a player to a team can be affected.

As Kent Hughes works the phones to try to unload his surplus of wingers and defensemen, let’s have a look at most of the team’s players and their chances of being traded, 30% of the season played.

Not being traded

Kaiden Guhle

Notice that I didn’t use the term “untouchable” here. If Wayne Gretzky got traded, it is better to making such claims. But on the Canadiens, those that I feel can sleep tight at night knowing that they’re not going anywhere are, in no particular order:

  • Nick Suzuki: The captain is having a breakthrough season and will lead this team for years to come.
  • Cole Caufield: Expect an announcement for a contract extension in the next few weeks, with a cap hit slightly below Suzuki’s.
  • Kirby Dach: Acquiring him for the 13th overall pick was a gamble by Hughes but it seems like he will win his bet.
  • Juraj Slafkovsky: Do I really need to explain why? First overall pick who keeps on improving as he gains experience.
  • Mike Matheson: You need some veteran leadership on this young defense. He’s a quality one.
  • David Savard: See Matheson and he’s right handed, worth gold on this team. Not playing in his seat is not his fault.
  • Kaiden Guhle: This guy is already playing like the team’s number one defenseman. Happy retirement Shea Weber.
  • Arber Xhekaj: The biggest surprise this season, the team grows two inches when he’s in the line-up. Leads all NHL rookie defensemen with four goals.
  • Jake Allen: Yes, some dream of seeing him gone but that’s all it is: a dream. His new two-year contract starts next season.

Most probable

Going from one extreme to the other, here are the players whom, in my humble opinion, are the most likely to find a new home from now until trade deadline. Again, in no particular order:

  • Mike Hoffman: Admittedly, not an easy guy and contract to move. But he was heating up prior to his injury and $4.5M is not that much for secondary scoring.
  • Christian Dvorak: Truthfully, his future in Montreal hinges on if Monahan is retained or not as the Canadiens are exploring that option. A third line center who wins you some faceoffs does have value and $4.45M is reasonable.
  • Joel Edmundson: Before the season started, had you told me that I’d have him in this category and I would have laughed at you. But the way the young defensemen have been playing, considering the depth on the left side of the defense, he’s now a good candidate to fetch a good return.
  • Sean Monahan: There have been plenty of debates to know if the Canadiens should consider re-signing the former Flames. But the way he has fit into the team, with his leadership, experience, the way he wins you faceoffs and provides secondary offense, more and more people are changing their mind. He could very well be traded too though, which is why he’s in this category.

Need an severe overpayment

I only have one name on that list but he’s a big one, in more than one way. I debated putting Jordan Harris in there but he has been a healthy scratch lately and after a strong start to the season, his play has levelled off a bit.

  • Josh Anderson: He’s in the rumours everywhere and there’s a reason for it. Likely the most underrated and unappreciated player on the Canadiens, Anderson is one of a kind. A big guy who can skate, hit, fight, score goals are rare in this league. Since acquired for Max Domi, only Suzuki has played more games amongst forwards for the Canadiens. He has a pace of 24 goals per 82 games since in Montreal. His 335 hits since the 2020-21 season are miles ahead of second place Joel Armia who has 194. So saying while some fans will try to convince you that he’s expendable, don’t buy it as NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun informed Cheering The Logo that Hughes has declined several serious offers for his power-forward.

Very unlikely

The following players would likely be available but due to a combination of performances and salary, the Canadiens would have to sweeten the deal by throwing in a draft pick or prospect to make a trade happen. And listening to Kent Hughes, it’s not something he’s willing to even discuss. It is interesting to note that doing that same exercise before the season started, Dadonov and Drouin would have been on top of the list of the “most probable”.

  • Evgenii Dadonov: Who wants a guy who is afraid of his own shadow, doesn’t get into the dirty areas and doesn’t produce offensively for $5 million? Even as a pending UFA, he would have to seriously head up in order for a team to offer even a late pick with half his salary retained.
  • Jonathan Drouin: You can read the Dadonov description above, change the salary to $5.5 million and add his mysterious injuries. I had hopes for him under Martin St-Louis but he just never lived up to expectations (his own included) in Montreal.
  • Brendan Gallagher: One thing no one will ever be able to blame Gally for is his dedication and willpower. He works as hard as ever, he skates better than ever, he creates scoring chances… but the puck isn’t going in for him. At $6.5 million long term, no one will take a risk.
  • Joel Armia: So much potential, so little consistency. That would be a way to sum up Armia’s career so far. With one meagre assist and no goals to show for in 13 games, and two more years at $3.4 million, the Canadiens are stuck hoping he finds his game.

There you have it. There are several players I didn’t mention. The rest could be packaged up in a trade or stay, either way is fine. Will we see some trade action in December, or will we have to wait to February and March, when teams are more set in their playoffs’ positions and decide if they’re going for it or not? Time will tell. But many of the trades that we will see at trade deadline are being worked on right now.

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A Case For Brock Boeser

By JD Lagrange – Living in British Columbia has its disadvantages when it comes to following the Montreal Canadiens. It’s impossible to get a job covering the team through any traditional media outlets as you don’t have access to the dressing room for interviews, for example. But with the internet and technology, we still have access to the same information just as easily as any fan out there living in La Belle Province, particularly when you also speak “la langue de Molière”.

But living in BC, aside from the unmeasurable amount of Crown Land for outdoor activities and its amazing mountains and views, has other advantage when it comes to hockey. For one, we get to watch the games at 4:00 PM our time instead of having to wait to 7:00 PM. We then have the freedom to watch games from the Western Conference at a “normal” time. This alone often gives us a better insight to the teams and players in the West.

Boeser seeking a trade

Last night, during the second intermission of the Oilers and Canadiens’ game, NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman informed hockey fans that the Vancouver Canucks have given permission to Brock Boeser and his agent to speak to other teams about the possibility of facilitating a trade. The Canucks’ right winger is not having a good season and he was going to be a healthy scratch last night against the Coyotes until Bruce Boudreau (possibly told by GM Patrik Allvin) changed his mind and inserted him into the line-up.

In 19 games so far this season, Boeser has four goals and 11 assists for 15 points. The points total is fine, but it seems like a pace for 17 goals is not enough for the Canucks… particularly not when you’re carrying a cap hit of $6.65 million for two more seasons after this one. Admittedly, that’s not enough to justify his salary and when you’re tight against the cap the way the Canucks are, people search for scapegoats and GMs, for solutions.

A tough time

Hockey fans, particularly those who aren’t following a team some 5,000 kilometers away from their home, are not always aware of the small details in a player’s life. I say small only because it’s often outside of hockey, but it can be major. Fans look at the stats’ sheet and immediately make a judgement on the said player(s).

For 12 years, Boeser’s father Duke had been battling Parkinson’s Disease. Brock was 13 when Duke was diagnosed. That was just the initial attack by a relentless wave of challenges that would include a brain injury suffered in a car accident, cancer, a heart attack and dementia. Duke Boeser’s battle for life ended at home in Burnsville, Minnesota, on May 27, 2022. He was 61 years old. Brock is 25, still far too young to be losing his father.

When he was 17, Boeser lost a close friend, Ty Alyea, in a car accident in Minnesota. Brock was away playing for the U.S. Under-18 team in Europe. Another close friend, Cole Borchardt, suffered permanent injuries in the accident.

“Brock has had some life scenarios where he had to be older than I wanted him to be. He had a maturity about him, anyway, but then had to endure some of those things at a pretty young age. When you have experiences like that, you can’t help but grow as you deal with them.” ~ Brock’s mother, Laurie Boeser

This, inevitably, has affected him and ultimately, his play on the ice. You see, we tend to forget that these players are also human beings. Fans, particularly on social media, like to come across as cold, ruthless people with little to no sympathy, even even less empathy, hiding under the pretext that the players are getting paid a lot of money to perform… no matter what. But those who have some living experience under their belts know that it’s not the right attitude, that there is more to hockey in life.

Canadiens’ possibility?

I have been given the opportunity, due to my location, to watch quite a bit of Boeser since he’s joined the Canucks. Of course, my colleagues Bob Trask and JAG could also tell you a lot about him as well, both living here in Beautiful BC.

But for those of you who don’t know him as well as a hockey player, Boeser is a sniper from the wing who has a great shot with a quick release and good puck skills. He knows how to find the dead spots in a defense and he can score from in close and from distance. He will get his nose dirty, especially on the power play where he gets a lot of his points.

Josh Anderson

The 6-foot 1-inch, 208 lbs right-hand shot winger was selected 23rd overall by the Canucks in 2015. He will only be turning 26 in February and has plenty of great hockey in him. I have been hoping for the Canadiens to trade for him for several years now and now, he seems to be available. But what to give?

As we know, the Canadiens are very deep on the wing and with left-handed defensemen. And let’s get one thing out of the way: Kent Hughes will not be trading a first round pick. If the Canucks insist on that, Montreal will be out of the picture in a hurry.

Some people on social media last night were bringing forward the name of Brendan Gallagher. Gally, although born in Edmonton, moved to Vancouver and played his junior hockey for the Giants in the WHL, where he was the team captain. Of course, cap-wise, it works. But if the Canucks aren’t happy with Boeser’s production for his salary, how do you think they will feel about an older Gallagher with more mileage and a similar cap hit? It’s a non-starter, in my humble opinion.

So look more towards Josh Anderson to tip the balance in the Canadiens’ favour. As opposed as I might be to trade Andy, getting Boeser, a more natural scorer, would help with the pain of losing a player that I really like. The prospect of seeing Boeser on the right of Sean Monahan, and the option of moving Dach back to the middle and the prospect of trying the Minnesota native with Caufield and Suzuki is also appealing.

Of course, you might have to add here or there on either sides, but I feel like the Canucks and Canadiens could be suitable trade partners, with Boeser and Anderson as centrepieces.

Of course, I fully expect Boeser’s agent to reach out to the Minnesota Wild, as he would likely welcome a trade to go back home. But that doesn’t mean that the Canucks will be able to accommodate him, particularly if the Wild lowballs them. Boeser has no trade protection on his current contract.

The Canadiens are playing in Vancouver on Monday…

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