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Canadiens Could See Uptick In Trade Leverage Thanks To Blues

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Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes

National Hockey Now is reporting that the St. Louis Blues aren’t interested in selling at the NHL Trade Deadline, which indirectly provides even more trade leverage to Kent Hughes and the Montreal Canadiens.

It was recently announced that Ryan O’Reilly had sustained an injury that would keep him out until the NHL Trade Deadline or shortly prior to it. It was also reported that, despite the St-Louis Blues being outside of the playoff picture, they are still weighing the possibility of adding pieces to go on a run, rather than selling off their top assets.

However, National Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy has now released exclusive information, stating that the St. Louis Blues are not looking to be sellers at this year’s NHL Trade Deadline, and, even with O’Reilly and Tarasenko injured, have willed themselves into a tie for the final Wild Card spot in the West.

It’s a big deal for the Canadiens, as O’Reilly would have been a big piece on the trade market.

Having removed O’Reilly from the board ensures that Sean Monahan, whom the Canadiens very much want to move at the NHL Trade Deadline, will be even more valuable, as Bo Horvat looks to be the only other clear-cut top-six centre available come March 3rd.

More Instability On Trade Front

Horvat and Monahan are indeed available, but the same can’t be said with certainty about Jonathan Toews.

In an article from Scott Powers of The Athletic, there is growing traction that Patrick Kane and Toews may not be available at the NHL Trade Deadline after all.

“The Blackhawks are open to trading Kane and Toews, but it doesn’t sound like their front office is convinced Kane and Toews will actually ask to be traded. It’s one thing to put a lot of thought into being moved, it’s another to ask to execute it,” wrote Powers on the situation. “Time will tell, but the Blackhawks are prepared for Kane and Toews to ride out this season in Chicago. The Blackhawks aren’t going to pressure them into leaving.”

The other thing to keep into consideration is the very unique set of circumstances with Toews.

He has a $10.5M cap hit that will require a third team to come in to eat an additional 50% of his cap hit just to fit under a team’s salary structure; and then there’s also his No Movement Clause, which means he will ultimately decide where he wants to go, not the quality of the offer provided to the Blackhawks.

That sways the market, but also puts pressure on other clubs looking to get strong up the middle to seek out other alternatives early; putting Sean Monahan in a far better light and putting the Montreal Canadiens at an advantage.

Monahan’s Value

That kind of leverage is good news for Hughes, as the signs may align to help him flip Monahan, as planned, to achieve his goal of going into the 2023 NHL Draft with three 1st-round picks.

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.

With the Canadiens’ ability to not only retain on Monahan’s contract ($6.38M), 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, and current injuries. He’s shown that his hip issues are now behind him, but his recent foot injury, which had kept him out for a month now, is seen to negatively impact his value by some.

That being said, the easy counter-argument to be made: the Canadiens completely folded offensively without Sean Monahan on the team; and, despite being out for the last 12 games, he still remains 4th in team scoring with 17 points in 25 games.

If the Montreal Canadiens remain patient and ensure Monahan remains healthy and productive when he returns in a few weeks, there’s no reason, based on precedent of the last five NHL Trade Deadlines and the way the market is shaping up, that they couldn’t get a good return for Monahan.

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