With the 2022 NHL Entry Draft less than three weeks away, NHL trade chatter is picking up and after unloading Shea Weber’s contract on the NHL trade market this past Thursday, the Montreal Canadiens appear to be far from done with the wheeling and dealing.
As my Montreal Hockey Now partner-in-scribe, Marco D’Amico wrote on Saturday, Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is poised to gain more salary cap space via the NHL trade market in the coming weeks. However, that may not be all Hughes, Canadiens executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton and their staff are up to. Speculation and buzz has been building around the NHL that the Montreal Canadiens may try to make a gigantic splash and acquire the second overall pick at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft from the New Jersey Devils. That would allow the Canadiens to open the NHL Draft picking first and second overall at the Bell Centre and potentially land the top two prospects in Shane Wright and Juraj Slafkovský.
TSN Insider Darren Dreger touched on this topic in the latest ‘Insider Trading’ on Friday:
“Habs general manager Kent Hughes may not sleep until August. He’s got a lot going on right now, including looking at the draft, to augment the first pick overall. The Montreal Canadiens are going to try and move up in other areas of the draft. They’ve got 14 picks. You’re not going to sign 14 drafted players. A crazy thought that’s been drifting around the National Hockey League – what if Kent Hughes and management of the Montreal Canadiens were able to land the second pick overall as well from the New Jersey Devils? It seems a tad absurd, but anything is possible. If New Jersey is moving that pick, they’ve got to get a real significant impact player in return.”
Yours truly had already heard this NHL trade scuttlebutt recently and ironically this past Thursday I did some digging on whether or not a monster trade like this could actually occur?
“Well, I can tell you this, in talking to general managers around the league recently, there’s teams calling ‘Fitz’ [Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald] but right now that’s really all it’s been – like, hey ‘Fitz’ are you willing to move the pick? – and that’s it for now. You’re looking at an impact NHL roster player, a second rounder and prospect, or if not an impact guy in the NHL, a good player at least, a first round pick and prospect. I know they really want D and a goalie.”
Coincidentally, as this NHL trade rumour of a potential blockbuster gained some steam this past week, so did the Josh Anderson NHL trade rumours. Marco had this to write as well on that topic Saturday:
Earlier in the week, NHL Executive confirmed to Montreal Hockey Now that the Montreal Canadiens had been receiving a high quantity of calls on Josh Anderson dating back to February. On Thursday night during a press conference, Hughes was asked whether or not recently acquired Evgeny Dadonov would be flipped before training camp, and his answer was very interesting.
“I think it was reported that we could trade Josh Anderson because we’re getting a lot of calls on Josh in the past, but we never moved him,” said Hughes while addressing the rumours that have been flying the last week. “We’re in 32nd place, we need to evaluate all options we have to create flexibility under the Salary Cap. It’s not our plan.”
Hughes voluntarily brought up Anderson’s situation to help contextualize the status of Dadonov leading up to training camp in September, however, in both cases, he didn’t categorically rule out a move. When asked to follow up on his comments regarding Anderson, Hughes’ answer seemed to indicate that teams have been active in trying to acquire the player, but none of their offers had blown them away.
“I think we have to listen. We’re in 32nd place. We have to listen to all options to improve the teams,” said Hughes on whether or not he’d entertain calls on Josh Anderson. “We had many teams call on Josh, up until the TDL, and some have called recently too. That should tell you how much we like Josh.”
That same NHL executive above believes the Devils are interested in Josh Anderson but clearly any offer for the second overall pick from the Canadiens, would need to include a lot more than Anderson and would likely be a multi-player, draft pick, prospect type package going both ways. At this point though, Fitzgerald appears to handling the trade inquiries for the second overall pick in the same manner that Hughes is handling those regarding Anderson.
For now, the NHL betting odds on the Devils trading the second overall pick are 80-1 but that could change as we get closer to the NHL Draft. If it does, the Canadiens could be a key reason why.