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Could Jonathan Huberdeau Be the Montreal Canadiens’ ‘Panarin Signing’?

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NHL Trade

The Montreal Canadiens are looking for many ways to fix their roster, but patience and a focus on clearing cap space this season could prove fruitful next summer with Jonathan Huberdeau possibly available.

The Calgary Flames made a blockbuster move trading for franchise winger Jonathan Huberdeau, defenceman Mackenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a conditional 2025 1st round pick in exchange for star power forward Matthew Tkachuk and a 4th round pick. They were able to recoup some top assets in a very difficult situation where Tkachuk had basically handcuffed them, providing a specific list of teams he’d be interested in signing long-term with. That being said, the caveat in this deal is that both Huberdeau and Weegar are both unrestricted free agents by the summer of 2023, and the Flames just lost two top wingers who didn’t want to stay in Calgary.

It’s interesting to note that Jonathan Huberdeau has admitted multiple times that he would like to play for the Canadiens one day, and he will have the opportunity to choose his destination next season. The Montreal Canadiens are looking to become competitive likely by the 2023-2024 season and will spend this upcoming season trying to maximize the development of their young players to be ready for that next step. It all seems to be rather familiar, as this seems like the same setup the New York Rangers had under Jeff Gorton right before they pursued and signed Artemi Panarin as a free agent in the summer of 2019.

At the time, the Rangers had a very deep prospect pool after amassing a wide array of 1st round picks and having just won the lottery to select Kappo Kakko 2nd overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. They also had top players entering their prime like Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome and Chris Kreider to count on to bridge the age gap and had quite a few expiring contracts coming off the books simultaneously. It was the perfect storm, and the signing of Panarin helped the team significantly advance the rebuild timeline, as Gorton had zoned in a player who was interested in playing in his market and did everything to sign him.

The Montreal Canadiens will find themselves in a very similar situation in the summer of 2023. They have amassed a pretty deep prospect pool, coming off the 2022 NHL Draft where they had just won the lottery to select Juraj Slafkosvky 1st overall. They have a plethora of contracts coming off the books next season in Jonathan Drouin, Paul Byron, Evgenii Dadonov and Jake Allen; all while having key pieces already in place like Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield on the main roster. If the Canadiens can add another top-10 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft (along with wherever the Florida Panthers’ 1st rounder falls), the Canadiens could be set in terms of their future; thereby allowing them to go big-game hunting in the summer.

If the Canadiens were able to pull off this kind of a signing, it would fit perfectly with what Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton have stated about wanting to be competitive in short order. By maximizing their returns in the 2022 and 2023 NHL Drafts, maximizing the development of players like Kirby Dach and moving salary around progressively, the prospect of signing Huberdeau would greatly speed up the rebuild in Montreal. It will be very interesting to see how the next year plays out for Huberdeau, but, if he does hit the market, you can surely expect the Canadiens to jump on the opportunity to bring in the biggest Quebec-born offensive star in the NHL right now.

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Doug

I wish you media writers would cut out the crap. Now these 3 or so big signings with Calgary and Florida. And Dubious with the Jets. Montreal has no chance in hell of possibly getting any of these guys to sign come UFA it’s not going to happen so stop the rumours!!!!

Hab’s fan from way back!!!

Jimmy Murphy

Hi Doug,

Just curious how you know this? Are you a fortune teller or are you secretly in on Canadiens hockey ops discussions? Please enlighten us. Thanks!

Arthur chilli

Doug either you live under a rock or dont follow hockey at all? My guess is you’re not even a habs fan

Stephen

The habs will do what they can but in the meantime, just win the lottery one more time.
Then we’ll start talking!!!

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