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NHL Trade Chatter: St. Louis Elevating Player Trade Value For Canadiens

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Montreal Canadiens

The hire of Martin St. Louis as the new head coach of the Montreal Canadiens has been a slam dunk for general manager Kent Hughes, as St. Louis has not only improved the on-ice performances of the team but also helped to increase the trade value of many players heading into NHL Trade Deadline and the offseason.

St. Louis’ more open concept of play has allowed players like Jeff Petry, Cole Caufield, and Nick Suzuki to find their games again, which bodes well for this club’s immediate and long-term future. The more the Canadiens can maximize the performances of their top players, the easier it will be to make decisions on who stays and who goes, but also on leveraging on solid return for some of these veterans on Hughes’ trade list.

 

Salvage Player Value

On the most recent Montreal Hockey Now podcast, TSN Insider Darren Dreger pointed out that St. Louis’ appointment as a head coach was a necessary change for the team’s culture and when it came to the immediate and long-term value of veterans.

“They had to make a change,” said Dreger on the coaching situation in Montreal. ” Not just for Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki and the young, impressionable talent, but everybody. For the NHL trade market for some of these guys.”

Being able to change the style of play to be more offensively oriented was a breath of fresh air for Canadiens fans and especially the players. It’s a style of play that’s conducive to utilizing the best aspects of a player’s skill set and also motivates them to give that extra effort on the ice. The players have responded well, and it’s helped salvage their value in the eyes of pro scouts across the league, most notably someone like Petry, who some thought was immovable just a few weeks ago.

 

 

An Investment in the Future

With the NHL Trade Deadline nine days away, the chatter on players like Petry or Artturi Lehkonen has picked up, in large part due to their significantly improved play under St. Louis, but that doesn’t mean the Canadiens need to force moves either.  The Canadiens are riding a nice wave of momentum under St. Louis, which will continue to benefit the teams’ performances down the stretch and help them end the season on a good note.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a high level of urgency to move all those players out,” said Dreger. ” If the NHL Trade Deadline passes and teams don’t have the success in the conclusion of the 2nd half of the season and the playoffs that they thought they were going to have, they have an injury, they’ve got a weakness, they go into the offseason with way more financial flexibility. Then maybe they are looking differently at a Joel Armia or Jeff Petry or a Brendan Gallagher.”

Leaving a very positive impression to end the season would put the Montreal Canadiens in a very strong position leading into the offseason. Teams will be far more aggressive in making changes to their lineups with more financial flexibility. Teams will likely circle back in trade talks leading up to the Draft and into the offseason. A strong finish will give Hughes all the leverage he needs to complete advantageous hockey trades for some of his higher salaried players. It’ll also help him move out salary a little easier than right now, allowing him to dabble in the free agent. market, should there be a fit for the Canadiens.

A Free Agent Magnet?

St. Louis is garnering a lot of buzz by the way he conducts himself behind the bench and how he positions himself to the media when speaking about his concepts, and the way he thinks the game. It’s impressive to see how relatable he is to his players and how he has taken his experience as a Hall of Fame player and applied it to his coaching style to motivate his players.

“I think you have to inspire them a little bit; you’ve got to motivate them,” said St. Louis after his hiring on Feb 10. “I think, at the end of the day, this is the National Hockey League. And every game, they should put their best foot forward to be as productive as possible to help the team win. I think for me right now, it’s getting them excited to play hockey again.”

After a month as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, it’s pretty evident that St. Louis has succeeded in bringing that excitement back to the players and the fans. When free agents choose their preferred destination, coaching and team culture are essential factors in deciding and often make or break the deal. St. Louis’ impact on the team could have a very positive effect on the future influx of free agents and speed up the roster transformation.

Needless to say, St. Louis has been a significant investment in the future of the direction of the Montreal Canadiens, and he’s given Hughes more ammunition to help turn this around quicker than most expected.

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