The Montreal Canadiens are likely fielding many calls on many players leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline, but one name that will likely surprise many is Joel Armia.
According to TSN Insider Darren Dreger, the Canadiens have received a few calls from interested teams on Armia ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline, mainly due to his playoff performances for the Habs the last two seasons.
“I know you guys are going to fall off your chair when I say this, but they’re actually getting calls on Joel Armia,” Dreger said on his Friday morning hit on TSN 690 in Montreal. “One thing that we all have to be mindful of is – and I remember [Ray] Ferraro saying this a month ago – and now you guys can see it; we can all see it because now Jeff Petry has played better hockey since they made the coaching change, but even when things were so terrible for Petry and company, Ferraro was among few who said, I’d take him in a second. I look at the body of work and I look at what he’s done historically, and I know that in the right environment, he is going to deliver and the same thing applies to Armia.”
Dreger emphasized that he wasn’t making a direct parallel of Armia’s body of work the last few years to Petry’s, but there is enough similarities to the reason teams are interested in Petry as to the interest in Armia.
“I’m not comparing those two by consistency, I’m saying that people have seen enough in the game of Armia outside of Montreal, and last year in Montreal that if the price is acceptable, you don’t have to overpay, a bigger piece like that for a playoff team,” Dreger said. “Always be mindful here that when you get to this point with the trade deadline looming, you’ve got a tiering process in your top tier that you’re looking for, but the price is too high in the top tier. I think even the second tier.
So if he’s a third-tier player and the price is palatable, why not make the move? Because your pro scouts have told you that he’s getting his game back; he’s getting close and he’s not that far from what he was. So maybe with a restart or the juice that flows with a playoff team or a playoff-contending team, it’s worth the risk. So, whether or not they move him, I can’t be certain but I know that there’s been some interest expressed.”
With a $3.4M Cap hit over the next three seasons, it still might be challenging to move Armia without retaining salary or taking back a contract in the process, but stranger things have happened. Teams may be willing to take on his contract at full value because they believe he will be worth it once he’s put back in an optimal environment. If the Canadiens can get an asset without having to sweeten the pot leading up to NHL Trade Deadline, it should be a no-brainer to move on from Armia and utilize that precious cap space elsewhere in their lineup this summer.