If Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price were to waive his no-movement clause again, as he did for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, who would be the leading NHL trade suitors to acquire Price?
While numerous sources tell Montreal Hockey Now that new Canadiens executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton and the Habs star goaltender have not broached that subject yet, the topic is already starting to gain some steam once again on the NHL trade rumor circuit.
Remember, former Canadiens general manager and executive vice president Marc Bergevin already enticed Price to waive his no-movement clause to be exposed in the 2021 Seattle Kraken NHL Expansion Draft, in an effort to shed Price’s $10.5 million salary cap hit this season and the remaining four after. So why wouldn’t Gorton, tasked with digging one of the NHL’s most storied franchises out of their current fall from grace, at least explore his options and maybe ask Price to do it again?
Despite Price leading the Canadiens on a Cinderella run to Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final last summer, the Habs star netminder hasn’t played a game during this dismal and historically bad Canadiens season.
So would any team on the NHL trade market even be interested in him?
“You’d be surprised,” one NHL Executive source told Montreal Hockey Now on Wednesday. “It’s no secret the Oilers and the Avalanche are looking for a goalie that can get them to play for the Cup. They’re both in a crucial window to go for it right now and from what I hear, that’s exactly what they’re about to do.
Also, if not them, then why not the Kraken? They passed on him, yeah, but now they could probably get him for less of a cap hit because Gorton may be willing to eat cap space. They’ve got some space and picks and prospects too.”
So what’s the read here?
Let’s say this NHL Executive is on to something (and we have no reason to believe he isn’t) and the suddenly increasing speculation about Price’s future with the Montreal Canadiens gains even more steam, could the steam turn to smoke and then fire? Look what Gorton did for the NHL-leading New York Rangers during his six-year stint as GM on Broadway. Would it really be surprising if trading the Canadiens franchise goaltender to retool for the future is explored. … if it hasn’t been already?
Obviously, Gorton will want to have a new general manager in place and secure his support staff before making a franchise-altering move like trading the face of the current Canadiens away. There’s no need to end up in infamy like former Habs GM Réjean Houle did when, on December 6, 1995, he traded away the last cornerstone goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, Patrick Roy, and then-Habs captain Mike Keane to the Avalanche in exchange for forwards Andrei Kovalenko and Martin Rucinsky, and goalie Jocelyn Thibault. Imagine the irony if Price ended up going to Colorado and then instantly won the Stanley Cup as Roy did in 1996, if Gorton, like Houle, got a marginal return in such an impactful trade once again?
All of this is hearsay for now, and based on other conversations with some NHL scouts, a lot would like to see Price play some games as the March 21 NHL Trade Deadline nears. That will probably need to happen for any substantial trade talks on Price to manifest. Also, a trade of this magnitude likely wouldn’t happen until the offseason. That being said, if the Oilers goaltending continues to struggle or Avalanche starter Darcy Kuemper falters or battles injuries again, this is definitely an NHL trade rumor to start paying more attention to.