The Montreal Canadiens made a few big announcements today that could directly impact their NHL Trade Deadline strategy leading up to March 21.
First off, they confirmed the return of goaltender Jake Allen who had been out for over a month with a lower-body injury. They then followed up on this news at 2 pm with the announcement that they had placed veteran winger Mathieu Perreault on waivers. Both moves could impact the club going into the final week before the NHL Trade Deadline, as the Canadiens begin to prepare the playing field for some future moves.
The Return of Jake Allen
The Canadiens Goaltender, whom TSN Insider Darren Dreger believes is a very coveted commodity around the league, was confirmed to be starting tomorrow night’s game against the Dallas Stars.
“There’s got to be interest in Jake Allen on the trade front,” said TSN Insider Darren Dreger last week on the Montreal Hockey Now Podcast. “Given the resume, the history of Jake Allen, any of these middling teams like Toronto or Edmonton, teams that don’t have the Cap space to go big game hunting[could be interested]. You can kick tires all day on Marc-André Fleury, that’s just managers doing their due diligence, but Jake Allen would make sense to me.”
The veteran goaltender was tasked with holding down the fort for an injured Carey Price, and his return will have a few teams interested in seeing if he’s in good form leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline. Dreger, amongst others, believes that interest would not be lacking toward Allen and that he could fetch the Canadiens an interesting return, given his experience and the affordability of his contract. His $2.85M Cap hit contract, which continues through the 2022-2023 season, would provide an acquiring team with more than just a simple rental opportunity and thus could position him as one of the more valuable goaltending options on the market.
So far this season, Jake Allen has performed admirably for the Montreal Canadiens, posting a 5-16-2 record on an underachieving Canadiens team with a 3.15 GAA and .901 save percentage. His experience in the playoffs and ability to perform well in one of the most pressure-filled markets in hockey will make him a player to watch leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21.
Mathieu Perreault On the Move?
The Canadiens are currently right up against the 23-man roster limit and are likely looking to open up a roster spot for a returning player by putting Perreault on waivers, as Jonathan Drouin and Christian Dvorak’s returns appear to be imminent. When a player is placed on waivers at this time of year, it usually indicates that there wasn’t a trade market for the player. That’s not to say that the Canadiens cannot move Mathieu Perreault should he clear waivers; in fact, it likely makes it easier.
The reason being is that many teams can use a player like Perreault as depth on their roster, but simply don’t want to sacrifice any of the precious Cap space they have left to incorporate his $950,000 contract. By waiving Perreault, his entire Cap hit comes off the books, and he can then be traded to another team looking for depth in the playoffs. That’s because the NHL’s Salary Cap is no longer enforced in the playoffs, allowing NHL Clubs to carry 26 to 30 players without worrying about going over the Cap. Having an experienced player like Perreault could help a contending team if they’re hit with the injury bug down the stretch.
If Perreault is claimed, the Canadiens free up a contract slot, allowing them more flexibility in trades to add a player, should the deal require Montreal to take on a contract to make the money and value work. The Canadiens currently sit at 47 contracts, but with the possible signings of some prospects before the end of the season, such as prospect Jordan Harris, you can never have too many contract slots available.