The Montreal Canadiens don’t appear to be done tinkering with their defensive unit, as Kent Hughes has confirmed that they would like to add a right-shot defenceman before the start of the season.
In the aftermath of trading Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Michael Matheson and a 2023 4th round pick, the Montreal Canadiens are a little thin on the right side of their defence. With Shea Weber and Petry now both gone, what was once a strength for the Canadiens has quickly become the organization’s biggest weakness. Hughes had already identified that weakness and made moves to rectify it when he traded Artturi Lehkonen to the Colorado Avalanche for a right-shot defenceman in Justin Barron and a 2024 2nd round pick.
Currently, the Montreal Canadiens have David Savard, Chris Wideman and Barron as right-shot defencemen with a legitimate chance of playing regular NHL minutes. Despite the lack of depth on the right side, Kent Hughes pointed out during his latest press conference that he wasn’t too concerned to start the season with an abundance of left-shot defencemen, as he feels a few of them could easily be moved to the right side in a pinch.
“I think Mike is one guy. Corey Schueneman played some on the right side. Jordan Harris has played a lot on the right side in his way up through pro hockey,” said Kent Hughes on who he sees being able to play on the right side of the defence, if need be. “We’ve got Savard and Justin Barron, who we believe will be able to play a role on our team. We’ve also got Wideman. One of the reasons we also signed Otto Leskinen and brought him back was because he also plays on the right side, despite being a left-shot defenceman.”
Despite his comfortability with his current roster, the desire to add a right-shot defenceman remains, as Hughes mentioned that he remained on the lookout for a right-shot defenceman on the trade front, and would also look to the waiver wire at the start of the season to see whether the Canadiens can snatch a right-shot defenceman from one of their rivals for free.
“If we can find, and we believe that there will be, either via trade or the waiver process, right-shot D that become available to us, then we’re going to continue to study that,” said Kent Hughes in his desire to add another right-shot defenceman before the start of the season. “In the interim, we feel like, even if we have an injury, we do have the capacity to put one of our guys on that right side.”
An interesting point to remember is that the Montreal Canadiens will remain first in the waiver selection process up until November 1, as they finished last in the NHL standings last season. That means that, if a team were to put an interesting player on waivers at the start of the season or shortly thereafter, the Canadiens would be able to swoop in and add said player to their roster immediately, giving them the depth they need at that position. Although the waiver priority remains an advantage, one shouldn’t rule out a trade for a right-shot defenceman just yet, as teams are still looking to tweak their roster during the offseason.
Kent Hughes s'adresse aux médias en direct via Zoom.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) July 16, 2022