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Canadiens Sean Monahan’s True NHL Trade Value At Deadline

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens are mulling over what to do with Sean Monahan, but history shows they could be getting a very interesting return for their Top-6 centre.

Over the past five seasons, there have been a small handful of arguable top-six centres available near the NHL Trade Deadline, as most are usually moved in the summer in bigger hockey deals.

Monahan carries a $6.3M cap hit until the end of the season, but the Canadiens have the ability to retain 50% of his salary and take on extra contracts to make the money work, likely allowing General Manager Kent Hughes to gain top value for his prized asset.

Here’s what that return could look like:

2022 NHL Trade Deadline

As an example, the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline saw two centres moved in Claude Giroux and Andrew Copp, which you can arguably classify as Top-6 pivots.

Giroux is being used primarily on the wing nowadays, but is a pure centre at base and that added versatility helped push up his value. The Philadelphia Flyers were able to extract a fair package for their franchise player, despite Giroux limiting the Flyers’ trade options with his trade protection.

After some back and forth with the Florida Panthers, the Flyers eventually got Owen Tippett, a 2024 1st-round pick and a 2023 3rd-round pick for the rental of Claude Giroux.

Tippett, a former 10th overall pick in his own right, with a 1st and 3rd-round pick is likely the top-end of what one could expect for an impact Top-6 forward and not a reasonable expectation for Monahan.

But the Flyers weren’t the only team to cash in during the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.

The Winnipeg Jets also sold high on centre Andrew Copp.

At the time of the trade, the 27-year-old had never once put up a 50-point season in his career, but had been trending toward an increased offensive output, coupled with a physical, two-way game.

The New York Rangers, who wanted to shore up their centre line, waited to the 11th hour to send over an offer that consisted of two conditional 2nd-round picks, forward Morgan Barron and a 5th-round pick in 2023 in exchange for Copp and a 2023 6th-round pick.

Due to the Rangers reaching the Eastern Conference finals, one of the conditional 2nd-round picks became a 2022 1st-round pick, meaning the Jets got a prospect, a 1st, a 2nd and a 5th for Copp and a 6th.

That’s quite the return for a player who had only ever hit 50 points once in his career, (shortly after being acquired), but it shows you the value of centres during this time of the year.

The Trend Is Strong

The high cost for a Top-6 centre is nothing new however, it’s simply just rare that they’re available.

If we look back through time, Paul Stastny was flipped by the St-Louis Blues at the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline for Erik Foley, a 2018 1st-round pick and a 2020 4th-round pick.

Stastny was 32 at the time and hadn’t put up more than 60 points in a season in over four years, but returned a a valuable package due to Winnipeg’s huge need for a centre.

Statsny wasn’t the only centre moved for a haul that spring, as Derrick Brassard netted the Ottawa Senators defenceman Ian Cole, goaltending prospects Filip Gustavsson, a 2018 1st-round pick and a 2019 3rd-round pick in a three-way trade that also included the Vegas Golden Knights.

Even Tomas Plekanec, who was far from a Top-6 centre in 2018, returned a 2nd-round pick and two prospects for the Montreal Canadiens from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Moral of the story, centres don’t come cheap, even if there are a multitude of options on the market.

Verdict On Monahan’s Value

The Montreal Canadiens have the benefit of options. Despite being on the outside looking in, they could very well decide to keep Sean Monahan, rather than being a full-blown seller like Philadelphia and Ottawa in 2022 and 2018, respectively.

Monahan’s return to form this season is likely to reassure some hesitant general managers, as he’s currently trending for 56 points this season with a career-high 55% in the face-off circle.

He’s clearly superior in value to that of Stastny and Brassard in 2018 and Andrew Copp last spring, which gives the Canadiens a benchmark for what to table as an asking price.

With the Canadiens’ ability to not only retain on Monahan, but also take on a contract to make the money work, it’s not outlandish to believe the Canadiens could extract a 2023 1st-round pick and a legitimate prospect/ 2nd-round pick from a club in need.

Yes, the 2023 NHL Draft is considered to be a strong one. So to was the 2015 NHL Draft, which was propped up as the best Draft since 2003, and yet still saw five 1st rounders moved at the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline.

Teams like the Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders, just to name a few, all need a bonafide Top-6 centre that can play in all situations and will likely pay top dollar to one-up their competition.

The only thing working against Monahan are his past injuries. He’s shown that his hip issues are now behind him, as his mobility is back to what it used to be, but he needs to remain generally healthy this season to convince general managers to ante up.

If the Montreal Canadiens remain patient and ensure Monahan remains healthy and productive, there’s no reason, based on precedent of the last five NHL Trade Deadlines, that they couldn’t get a good return for Monahan.

Verdict:

a) 2023 1st-round pick + good prospect + cap dump*

b) 2024 1st-round pick + 3rd round pick + good prospect + cap dump

c) Former 1st-round pick + 2nd round pick  + cap dump

* If the 1st round pick is for 2023, you can expect less added assets, given the strength of the 2023 NHL Draft.

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