The Montreal Canadiens may very well get their second lottery pick, as rumblings of the Florida Panthers potentially selling at the NHL Trade Deadline have started to increase.
It started early in December when an NHL source mentioned to Montreal Hockey Now that Florida Panthers General Manager Bill Zito could be aggressive yet again at the NHL Trade Deadline, but in a different way this time around.
It was reported that the struggles of the club through the first half of this season, and the growing odds that the Florida Panthers miss the playoffs, could lead to a potential retooling in Florida.
At the time, Montreal Hockey Now didn’t see fit to report on it, because it was still early, but, despite the Panthers being on a two-game winning streak, the teams around them have continued to win as well, meaning their odds, despite winning haven’t improved at all.
Retool In South Florida
Then, earlier this week, Daily Faceoff‘s Frank Seravalli pointed to the Florida Panthers as being a team to watch, as they could try to sell off some pieces in order to recoup some draft capital leading up to the 2023 NHL Draft,
“The Florida Panthers don’t have a first-round draft pick until 2026 and as last season showed when they were involved with sending Max Domi to a potential Eastern Conference playoff foe, they could be the middle man in an attempt to recoup as many bullets as possible in the Draft,” wrote Seravalli about the Panthers situation.
Seravalli continued on his thought process again on Daily Faceoff Live, where he pointed to some of the Panthers’ forwards being sacrificed so that they could instead secure a top defensive player moving forward; a clear need for the Panthers to support Aaron Ekblad on the top pair.
“But do they rebalance their roster a bit? Do they potentially trade a forward like Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett? One of the Sam’s, in order to potentially take those assets and they don’t have a first-round pick until 2026, and maybe leverage them to get a top-flight defenseman to play with Aaron Ekblad moving forward,” said Seravalli on Daily Faceoff Live earlier this week. “I think the Panthers have something in their back pocket for either Reinhart or Bennett. That would be my guess. And whether or not that comes to play over the next 59 days, we’ll see.”
Why The Canadiens Benefit
The Montreal Canadiens own the Florida Panthers‘ 1st-round pick thanks to some tidy business from General Manager Kent Hughes at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.
Securing an unprotected 1st-round pick in 2023, along with other assets, for the rental of Ben Chiarot may go down as one of the best trades in the modern era of the Montreal Canadiens; even more so if said pick wins the lotttery or the player selected with the pick becomes an impact player.
If the Florida Panthers do decide to sell off a piece or two, it would hurt their chances of keeping pace in the heated playoff race in the Eastern Conference, meaning the Canadiens would be sitting with two lottery-eligible draft picks come May, when the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery is set to take place.
It’s a surefire way for the Canadiens to inject some top-end skill to their organization, as they look to take their rebuild to the next level.