The Montreal Canadiens find themselves with 16 NHL-calibre forwards and some youngsters pushing to surprise; something’s got to give before the end of training camp.
The Montreal Canadiens currently sit at 15 forwards on their roster with about $4.4M in projected LTIR relief space with Kirby Dach left to sign. Currently, the Canadiens have $57.8M committed to their forward group and not enough room for them to stay on their main roster. That number could increase once they sign Dach to his extension, which is likely to be a bridge deal. It’s concerning that the Canadiens have such a high percentage of their total expenditure dedicated to forwards, as the group was one of the least efficient in the NHL last season.
Still Looking To Move
It would be surprising not to see the Montreal Canadiens attempt to move a forward before the start of the NHL season, as members of the Canadiens’ management team have expressed a desire to add a defenceman in recent interviews. Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes recently expressed a desire to continue tweaking his roster, specifically as he looks to add another defenseman to his group.
“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.”
Executive vice president Jeff Gorton echoed the same desire to make more moves during his recent visit to the Bob McCown Podcast.
“Yes, you can always do more. We’d like to add a few things before the start of next season,” said Gorton when asked if the Canadiens were done moving players this offseason. “Whether that happens, I don’t know. We have 15-16 forwards up front already and we have some young players we want to take a look at on defence and at forward. We could do something in the next little while too.”
On top of mentioning that they have a logjam at forward, and this was before the acquisition of Sean Monahan, Gorton even expressed the desire to give younger players, like Juraj Slafkovsky or Jesse Ylönen, a chance to show what they can do at training camp. If there are a few surprises at camp. the Canadiens would be forced to move a forward, it’s just a question of the Canadiens being able to find the right deal to ensure the short-term and long-term well-being of the club.
Who Could The Montreal Canadiens Ship Out?
According to various NHL sources, the three Canadiens forwards being talked about as available on the trade market are Christian Dvorak ($4.45M), Mike Hoffman ($4.5M) and Joel Armia ($3.4), with varying degrees of interest surrounding each player. Out of the bunch, Dvorak is the name that has gotten the most amount of attention around trade circles in recent weeks, as the acquisitions of Dach and Monahan have created a logjam of top nine centres on the club. Armia is also a name to keep in mind, as he increased his stock since the second half of the NHL season, as his play vastly improved under new head coach Martin St. Louis, and he took that momentum with him to the World Championships, where he was a standout for Team Finland.
Of the three, Dvorak is the most intriguing piece in the bunch and could serve as a solid trade piece to contenders looking to shore up their centre line. Montreal will likely try to push Dach or Monahan in the lineup, making Dvorak the odd man out. That being said, for such a trade to work, the Canadiens will likely be looking to acquire a young, right-shot defenceman or a veteran on a short-term contract along with some futures to even the value.
On the flip side, one of the golden rules in hockey is that you can never have enough centres on your club. If you have too many, simply move one to the wing. The Canadiens’ existing excess of wingers could prompt them to move one of Hoffman or Armia instead of Dvorak in an attempt to free up future cap space and a much-needed roster spot for some training camp surprises without hurting their centre depth. With Paul Byron looking unlikely to be ready for camp and Carey Price to be put on LTIR, there may be potential for the Canadiens to carry 14 forwards to start the year; meaning that a move will have to happen if someone like Slafkovsky or Ylönen forces management’s hand at camp.
It will be interesting to see how the Canadiens will make room prior to the start of the season, but sources have indicated that the Canadiens do not appear done tweaking their roster just yet.