Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has admitted to having a surplus of left-shot defencemen, and he’s willing to use it to his advantage.
During his mid-year press conference, Kent Hughes was asked whether the emergence of Arber Xhekaj, Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris could make other defencemen in the lineup more expendable.
His answer was straightforward: they have a surplus of left-shot defencemen, and that’s a good thing.
“Yes. We, of course have many prospects on the left side of our defence. We have Mike Matheson, (Kaiden) Guhle, (Jordan) Harris; we have Arber (Xhekaj); so we have a surplus of left-shot defencemen,” said Hughes when talking about about the emergence of his young defencemen. “It’s one of the reasons we felt comfortable trading Alexander Romanov, even if we liked him very much.”
Hughes isn’t kidding. It could be argued that the Canadiens have even more quality depth right now than they did when he acquired Kirby Dach in a three-way trade that included Alex Romanov.
The Canadiens have Matheson, Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris and Arber Xhekaj at the NHL level, but they also have Nicolas Beaudin and William Trudeau impressing with the Laval Rocket this season.
That’s just at the pro level, as Lane Hutson and Adam Engstrom have also taken important steps in their development and have quickly risen up the Canadiens prospect rankings.
The Million-Dollar Question
But would the Montreal Canadiens have the appetite to move a veteran player like Joel Edmundson or even right-shot defender David Savard?
When pressed on the subject, Hughes provided an honest answer to the idea of a trade, while doing his best to prop up the value of his veterans to the Canadiens; both on and off the ice.
“If a trade presents itself where we can either acquire picks or a player that could help us in other areas in our lineup, it’s possible and we’ll look at it,” said Hughes regarding his readiness to use his excess of defencemen to his advantage. “But, we don’t necessarily need to make a deal, and we need to keep that balance as well, because those two are important players for our kids in the room and as teachers on the ice.”
The last bit of his explanation, regarding the maintenance of balance in his lineup remains interesting, as it was the same positioning used when asked about the availability of Arturri Lehkonen or Brett Kulak last spring.
In this case, transparency is an important negotiation tactic, as Edmundson, for example, is indeed worth much more to an NHL club than the 20+ minutes he spends on the ice.
Nonetheless, with the acquisition of Matheson this past summer, a trio of young defencemen making their mark in the NHL and the significant growth of prospects like Beaudin, Trudeau and Hutson; the writing seems to be on the wall.
Suivez le bilan de mi-saison du directeur général Kent Hughes en direct.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 18, 2023