The Montreal Canadiens are being led primarily by their youth this season, while some of their most desirable vets continue to attract attention across the league.
This is the time of the year when teams begin to go from kicking tires to taking names when it comes to their NHL Trade Deadline shopping lists.
The unprecedented parity in the NHL this season means that there could be many more buyers this season than in past years, putting sellers at a net advantage.
General Manager Kent Hughes continues to look to the future, rather than needlessly waste assets on the present, and could be tempted, like he was last season with Artturi Lehkonen and Brett Kulak, to let some of his prized veterans go for valuable, age-specific assets that could help the team next season.
Here are the three players that are receiving the most attention on the NHL Trade Market right now.
This isn’t to say Joel Edmundson is the most valuable piece on the Montreal Canadiens, but the extra year he has on his contract, worth $3.5M per annum, makes him more valuable than a simple rental.
Edmundson has had an abundance of playoff experience over the last five seasons, winning a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues and helping the Montreal Canadiens reach the Finals two seasons ago.
His leadership and stable defensive play would be of great value to playoff clubs needing a veteran presence on the back end. His extra year on his contract makes him more of a guarantee, a player you can hold onto for two kicks at the cans in the playoffs.
Given the Canadiens quickly emerging left-shot defencemen and the uncomfortable rotation of defenders for head coach Martin St-Louis, it may just prompt Hughes to listen a little more on offers for his rugged rearguard.
Josh Anderson is a peculiar case for the Montreal Canadiens.
The issue is that he is a valuable player to the team right now, but runs the risk of being a problematic player for them down the road.
That being said, the Canadiens have played their cards well with Anderson, holding the position that they like the player and would gladly keep him in the short term.
However, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Hughes has used Anderson’s name in public before as an example of a player they aren’t implicitly shopping, but that teams are calling on a great deal.
It’s been reported that the Canadiens have refused offers for Anderson in the past, with some even including 1st-round picks.
As the season progresses and teams become more aggressive in their pursuit of a playoff spot and a Stanley Cup, the offers could yet again increase for Anderson and Hughes will be left weighing his options once again.
If the Canadiens get an offer too good to refuse, they may be forced to make a move, despite their appreciation for the player, to liberate cap space for the future and continue funnelling elite youngsters into the lineup.
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.
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.
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.
If General Manager Kent Hughes plays it safe with his health and continues to wait out the market, he’ll significantly increase his chances of extracting an attractive return for Monahan, one that is simply too good to pass up,