The Montreal Canadiens are still looking for a veteran right-shot defenceman, and there could be some interesting options available on the NHL trade market.
It’s interesting to point out that, even after the claiming of Jonathan Kovacevic on waivers, the Canadiens are still in the hunt for another right-shot defenceman to bolster their depth on the right side. Even though Kovacevic has handled himself well on a pair with Jordan Harris so far this season, they’re still looking to add a veteran presence on the back end, at least in the short term, without significantly improving the team.
Montreal Hockey Now reported last month that Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes was in the hunt right-shot defenceman that could bring a veteran presence into the locker room and help bring along the youngsters that will be rotating in and out of the lineup. Here are some possible options available on the NHL trade market the Canadiens could look at to bolster their lineup:
Justin Braun – Philadelphia Flyers
The 35-year-old would be an interesting look for the Montreal Canadiens, not because he would greatly improve the team, but exactly the opposite. Justin Braun would be a good stopgap on the right side that could provide a ton of experience to the many left-handed defencemen on the Canadiens’ back end, just like he’s done for Travis Sanheim for parts of the last year in Philadelphia.
With Rasmus Ristolainen likely to return from IR in the next week or two, the Flyers could be tempted to move Braun for some help at forward and keep Egor Zamula and Louis Belpedio with the big club, as their lineup currently lacks some much-needed experience up front, something the Canadiens have in abundance.
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Mark Friedman – Pittsburgh Penguins
Some will say that the Canadiens could have picked up Mark Friedman for free on waivers a week ago, and that is true, but that would have forced the Montreal Canadiens to keep him on the roster and send down a youngster like Arber Xhekaj or Jordan Harris without properly evaluating them. Now that Friedman has cleared waivers, the hard-hitting defenceman can be traded for while in the minors and recalled at will, similarly to what the Canadiens are currently doing with Corey Schueneman.
That kind of flexibility, along with Freidman’s defensive prowess and physical play, could be an attractive and subtle type of move that Hughes could look to in order to bolster his club’s right side without necessarily improving his team. With Friedman in the minors, Montreal could look for a swap of minor-league contracts, as the Canadiens have too many forwards with the Laval Rocket, and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have a need for more quality forward depth.
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Ethan Bear – Caroline Hurricanes
The 25-year-old defenceman has been in a weird situation, as the Carolina Hurricanes have had Bear on the NHL trade market since the summer. In the meantime, the rugged rearguard has yet to suit up for a game this season, making him a very expensive 7th defenceman at $2.2M on the cap. However, during his time with the Edmonton Oilers, Bear proved to be a physical and stable defenceman who could hold down the third pair, with the upside to get better.
The logjam on defence and the lack of available cap space across the league has made it difficult for the Hurricanes to extract prime value for their defenceman, but perhaps a deal could materialize with the Canadiens, who could provide a combination of roster players, picks or prospects to acquire the defenceman without hurting their rebuild. It could be a good gamble for the Montreal Canadiens, who could easily recoup any of the assets they spent on acquiring Bear by flipping him at the trade deadline should the Canadiens be sellers.
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