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NHL Trade Talk

NHL Trade Talk: Who Could Canadiens Target from the Hurricanes?

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NHL Trade

The Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes are talking leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline, and word is Carolina is looking for defensive help. With Montreal having rental options like Ben Chiarot and Brett Kulak, as well as veteran Jeff Petry, the Hurricanes could indeed look to link up with the Habs to shore up their defense.

With the Canadiens willing to retain 50% on Chiarot’s contract, a $3.5M Cap hit according to our friends and Puckpedia, the Canadiens are looking for a 1st round pick or equivalent in return for their defenseman. With the Hurricanes not having a 1st round pick in 2022 thanks to the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet, Carolina would need to entice Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes with prospects to secure Chiarot, something they have in abundance.

Hughes has not been shy to point out that, in an ideal world, he would prefer prospects to picks, and Carolina has a few prospects that could fill a major need in the Canadiens organizational structure moving forward.

Scott Morrow – RD

Scott Morrow is perhaps the hottest prospect that Carolina has at the moment. The 40th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft has had a monster freshman season for UMass-Amherst in the NCAA, putting up 31 points in 33 games as a defenseman. Being that coveted right-shot defenseman with offensive abilities, he would be at the top of Hughes’ list of players, but the Hurricanes would have to really like Chiarot to let their best defensive prospect go for a rental. However, it wouldn’t be outlandish to see the Hurricanes try to sell high on the prospect in order to go all-in this season.

Morrow plays a very smart and effective game predicated on moving the puck up the ice as quickly as possible. He has all the tools the offensive tools to be a capable top-4 defenseman at the NHL level, possessing great skating, puck skills, and a booming shot. His stick-handling is particularly eye-catching, especially for a defenseman, as he’s able to dangle the opposition to create space for himself and push the pace of the play forward.

It would be a pleasant surprise if Morrow were to be available in such a deal, but you can bet that Hughes would target him immediately leading up to the NHL trade deadline.

Ryan Suzuki – C

The former 28th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and brother of Canadiens top centre Nick Suzuki, Ryan Suzuki seems to be another top target the Canadiens could look at before NHL Trade Deadline. Suzuki is currently buried in the AHL due in large part to the great depth at center in Carolina with Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trochek, Jordan Staal, and more. With the Kotkaniemi Offer Sheet adding yet another centre to the fold, Suzuki could likely use a change of scenery to get the necessary opportunity he needs to show his worth.

His stats don’t jump off the page, with 18 points in his first 45 games in the AHL, but the 20-year-old has the potential to be a top- player at center in the NHL. He’s been unfortunate with freak injuries and a very deep Chicago Wolves roster. Still, he would certainly get prime-time usage with the Laval Rocket to end the season, as they desperately need a centre like Suzuki.

He plays a very intelligent game, like his brother, but is a far faster and more agile player on the ice. Suzuki uses his speed and vision to create plays at high speed, utilizing his soft hands and exceptional vision to set up his teammates regularly. His skills would be better suited for the NHL than the AHL, and he would likely express himself better offensively in Montreal’s new offensive concept.

Anttoni Honka – RD

Anttoni Honka would be yet another right-shot defenseman that the Montreal Canadiens can target from Carolina. Like Morrow, he fits a glaring organizational need and could join the Canadiens as early as next season and try to crack the roster. The 21-year-old has been one of Finland’s best offensive defensemen in the defensive-minded Liiga, putting up 32 points in 51 games.

Honka plays a very up-tempo game predicated on skill and elite transition. He can move pucks out of the zone and often likes to join the rush as a fourth man. His wrist shot is one of his best attributes, and he’s able to rip his shot from anywhere in the offensive zone. Some teams may question his defensive ability, as he’s not the most physical or the most aggressive when it comes to defensive coverage. A player with Honka’s skillset can be taught defenspower-playe once in North America, but you can’t teach that offensive talent.

He wouldn’t necessarily replace the value of a 1st round pick, but in addition to Carolina’s 2nd round pick, it could be a very attractive package for the Montreal Canadiens leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline.

Natural Trade Partners

Despite the controversy of the Kotkaniemi Offer Sheet in the summer, the Hurricanes and Canadiens make for natural trade partners. The past rancor has dissipated as Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell even completed a move with the Canadiens a year after their Aho Offer Sheet when he shipped for Joel Edmundson to Montreal in the fall of 2020. With former general manager Marc Bergevin no longer with the club, there shouldn’t be any bad blood or closed communications.

Anyone of the prospects mentioned above, along with a draft pick, could be just as valuable as receiving a late 1st-round pick from a rival club. They all have legit NHL potential and are farther along in their development, which Hughes said he would prefer over the uncertainty of a draft pick. With Suzuki being a former first-rounder and Morrow/Honka’s developmental curves taking significantly positive turns, they could be just the pieces to get Hughes to pull the trigger on a Chiarot trade, finally.

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