With the NHL Trade Deadline just an hour away, the Montreal Canadiens made a splash by trading Artturi Lehkonen to the Colorado Avalanche for 20-year old defenceman Justin Barron and a 2024 2nd round pick per Colorado Hockey Now reporter Adrian Dater.
Any trade involving Lehkonen was likely the maximum value the Canadiens could ever hope to get for their two-way winger, and Hughes had said in the past that he was in the business of selling high and buying low. Justin Barron is precisely the type of prospect that could get the Montreal Canadiens to consider moving a player like Lehkonen, and the added bonus of a 2nd round pick was simply too good to pass up for general manager Kent Hughes.
A+ Return for Kent Hughes
Justin Barron, the former 25th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, fits a real need for the Canadiens, who lack right-shot defenders with top-4 potential in their prospect pool. In his first, full season in the AHL for the Colorado Eagles, the youngster has 20 points in 43 games while playing a very sound game predicated on transition and puck movement. He instantly vaults himself to the top of the Canadiens prospect list with the likes of Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris and will have every opportunity to grow in Montreal’s system moving forward.
*whistles* Justin Barron can skate. pic.twitter.com/B1guqw4rn9
— Nathan Rudolph (@Nathan__Rudolph) December 12, 2021
Barron plays a style that is also unique in the Canadiens’ prospect pool, as he isn’t the most physical, but can quarterback a powerplay and log significant minutes when called upon. He plays the puck aggressively and is all about the counter-attack on the rush. His first pass is excellent, and his reads inside the defensive zone have improved by leaps and bounds. It must have been tough to let a piece like Barron go for the Avalanche to let go, but Canadiens fans should be excited about this acquisition.
The 2nd round pick is a bonus for the Canadiens, who continue to stockpile picks leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline and move towards the future of this roster transformation.
Colorado Avalanche Get Their Man
The Avalanche needed to add a significant piece at forward to help put them over the top. In past playoffs, their secondary scoring has left fans wanting more, and that is likely why they were so aggressive in their offer for Lehkonen. Lehkonen has scored a few series-clinching goals over the year, most famously his OT series winner against the Vegas Golden Knights in last year’s 2021 NHL Playoffs.
— NHL (@NHL) June 25, 2021
Artturi Lehkonen has been one of Montreal’s most consistent two-way players for years now, and teams like the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, and Colorado Avalanche have taken a significant interest in his services. Lehkonen is the type of player championship teams trades for to put them over the top. His value was never going to be higher, and his game has been at its peak over the last two months leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline, and Hughes succeeded in cashing in.
For the Avalanche, they now have a player who can play up and down their lineup and can control beyond this season due to Lehkonen’s restricted free-agent status. He will provide much of what former Avalanche Joonas Donskoi once brought to their lineup, which is superb defensive ability coupled with timely offence. Lehkonen’s prowess at even strength, like the most coveted aspect of his game, made him a can’t miss acquisition for Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic, and helps vault his team to the next level.