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Canadiens Trade Talk

As Tempting As Alex DeBrincat Is, Timing Isn’t Right For Canadiens



NHL Trade

As tempting as acquiring a 24-year-old, two-time 40-goal scorer like Alex DeBrincat on the NHL trade market may be for the Montreal Canadiens – and NHL team for that matter – the timing and the price just isn’t right for the Canadiens.

As of Tuesday afternoon, multiple NHL sources confirmed to Montreal Hockey Now, that in addition to the Los Angeles Kings (reported first by Pierre LeBrun), the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres are interested in acquiring DeBrincat on the NHL trade market. The Montreal Canadiens are not currently an NHL trade suitor for the Chicago Blackhawks winger.

DeBrincat has suddenly become a hot name on the NHL trade rumour circuit thanks to a report from Athletic NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun last Friday. As new Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson begins a rebuild in the Windy City, he is starting to listen to offers on DeBrincat. Here’s LeBrun on this last Friday:

‘The re-building Blackhawks are having ongoing discussions with teams on a potential Alex DeBrincat trade. No guarantee they move him, but they’re listening for sure. If it happens, it would be a future assets type deal. The Blackhawks would want a young player/high picks/top prospect type return.

It would take a serious haul if they decide to make that move. As it should for a 24-year-old winger coming off a 41-goal season. He’s got one year left on his contract at a $6.4-million AAV and then next summer he’s RFA with salary arbitration rights. So part of what teams are trying to figure out within their pursuit of DeBrincat is what that next contract may look like. This might scare off a team or two, but overall my sense is the interest is pretty significant nonetheless.

The Kings are one of several clubs that I believe have shown interest.’

What LeBrun didn’t mention there is that DeBrincat will earn an actual salary of $9 million for 2022-23, and that’s what it will cost the Blackhawks to qualify his rights next summer. As my partner-in-scribe at MHN, Marco D’amico wrote on Tuesday, the Canadiens will already be dealing with some difficult decisions on qualifying offers in a few weeks and even more so in the next few years. While Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes seems poised to unload more salary cap space on the NHL trade market, he also seems intent on maintaining the cap flexibility he may gain as he rebuilds the most storied franchise in NHL history.

DeBrincat will also be a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility next summer. There’s already speculation that if the Blackhawks’ rebuilding process appears to be a long one, he will only sign a one-year deal with the intent of signing a lengthy one with a Stanley Cup contender for 2023-24 and beyond. Knowing that, the Blackhawks could still move him as a rental or in a sign and trade at the 2023 NHL trade deadline if they don’t unload him on the NHL trade market this offseason.

The odds that DeBrincat gets moved by next season are rising at, and make no mistake, it would’ve been poetic justice for the Canadiens and their fan base if they were somehow able to acquire Alex DeBrincat who was drafted 39th overall with the 2016 second round pick that the Blackhawks acquired from the Canadiens in the Andrew Shaw trade. However, the Hughes-Jeff Gorton regime is focused on cleaning up the mess the Marc Bergevin regime left behind and not creating a new one on the NHL trade market.


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