Did the Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights open the NHL trade floodgates Thursday night?
About two hours before the Montreal Canadiens announced Thursday evening that the team had traded Shea Weber and his contract to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Evgenii Dadonov, an NHL executive source wondered to Montreal Hockey now if the proverbial NHL trade damn was about to break? Or would it simply be more substantial NHL trade talks, laying the ground work for ’11th hour’ trades at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal July 7-8?
“I think to this point, it’s simply been the usual feeling out process to be honest,” the source told MHN. “I mean you know the NHL; every thing usually goes down to the 11th hour when it comes to getting trades done whether it’s the NHL trade deadline or the draft. There’s usually plenty of chatter leading up to the draft, but until we’re actually at the draft, that’s all it is. Am I getting more calls now? Yeah and I will get even more in the next three weeks. But when they actually become a laid out plan for two teams to accept? I’m not sure we’re quite there yet.”
Two hours later Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes basically pulled off a NHL trade coup by unloading the final four seasons of Weber’s contract that carried a $7.8 million salary cap hit. They now inherit the final season of Dadonov’s three-year contract that he signed with the Ottawa Senators in the 2020 offseason and that carries a $5 million cap hit. As a result of the trade, the Canadiens have gained $2.8 million in cap space.
So what does that same NHL executive think now in terms of the NHL trade market opening up earlier than expected?
Take that for what it’s worth, but it sure sounds like maybe Hughes and Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon may have at least created a leak, if not some trades flowing a bit earlier than usual.
“I expect more action now because a lot of teams have major cap issues and they don’t want to miss a chance to find a way out of them,” another NHL executive told MHN just after 5 PM ET on Friday night. “I know I picked up the phone more than I planned [Friday]. Let’s see where this goes.”
It should be noted that as far as the Canadiens go, Hughes echoed what the first NHL executive said in terms of trade talks for players like Jeff Petry and Josh Anderson, who have become mainstays in NHL trade rumours again. My partner-in-scribe, Marco D’Amico will have more on that throughout the weekend.