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Canadiens Mailbag: Monahan, Dubois, NHL Trade Market



Montreal Canadiens forward Sean Monahan

Welcome back to another edition of the Canadiens Mailbag.

This week we cover Sean Monahan’s potential trade value, the Pierre-Luc Dubois situation, Brendan Gallagher’s future, the Retro Reverse curse, and much more.

Monahan’s Value

The Horvat trade is GREAT news for the Canadiens.

First off, I wasn’t around on Monday, but checking the reaction on Twitter, I get the impression people think it was a bad trade for Vancouver.

It wasn’t bad.

Nor was it excellent.

Horvat is unsigned, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be in a New York Islanders jersey beyond this season. If Horvat is looking to maximize his value, a wise approach given his recent scoring and current age, he may want to hold off from signing an extension at the moment, which lowers his value.

But the exciting part for the Canucks, and the Canadiens, is the inclusion of the 2023 first-round pick. It’s top-12 protected, which means it won’t be a lottery pick, but it still has the potential to be a good pick in what is expected to be one of the best drafts in recent history.

Recently, teams have hesitated to move first-round picks for the upcoming draft, and the mere fact that one was involved in this deal may push other teams to gamble.

As for Monahan’s trade value, there’s no doubt this is a positive shift.

Very few centers will be available at the NHL trade deadline, and with Horvat out of the picture, you could argue Monahan is the best of the rest.

Jonathan Toews and Max Domi will also be available, however, both have struggled to maintain decent underlying numbers this season. For example, with Toews on the ice, the Chicago Blackhawks have only managed to control under 35 percent of the high-danger chances.

Monahan, on the other hand, has very encouraging stats.

We’ll delve into the subject shortly with an in-depth look at what Monahan could fetch as a return on the NHL trade market, but for now, we can safely say there’s a high demand for centers and a clear lack of supply.

Hated Habs

Translation: “Which Canadiens player did you hate the most?”

I don’t think I’ve ever hated a Canadiens player, per se, though I have hated interviewing certain players, mostly due to their lack of interest in providing exciting answers.

On that note, I tend to blame myself whenever I receive an underwhelming answer, reasoning that it’s due to a poor question.

But some players simply hate doing interviews, and that’s quite reasonable.

Imagine having to deal with someone like me all the time. I wouldn’t wish it upon my greatest enemy.

For example, Shea Weber gives you very little to work with. The same can be said about Carey Price later in his career, though he had been burned by the local media so many times that it’s easy to comprehend why he wasn’t interested in giving media more ammunition that could be misinterpreted and used against him.

Personally, I think it’s such a privilege to work in this industry that I really can’t complain. It’s also worth noting that just like us, players have good and bad days. I couldn’t bring myself to criticize their availability when I know mental health is in play.

There was also a situation several years ago with the Laval Rocket that was particularly frustrating, involving a player that should have been made available to the media on several occasions according to the rules but was consistently kept away from the local scribes without an explanation.

However, even when a player is not made available for a quote, you still have a story, so it’s difficult to whine about poor media relations. It’s simply a matter of pivoting and changing your approach to the story.

Gallagher’s Goal

In the short term, I’d argue there’s very little chance Gallagher is traded, and even less when it comes to a possible buyout, even if it’s a potential money saver for Kent Hughes and Co.

As it stands, Gallagher probably has little to no value on the trade market given his recent string of injuries and lack of production.

That doesn’t mean his value will remain low going forward, but for now, it’s doubtful the Canadiens would receive many offers.

I’d suggest the best approach would be to let him heal, and by heal, I mean letting a doctor decide when he’s ready to return to play because it’s clear Gallagher will constantly put his health on the line to hastily recover from his injuries.

The biggest issue for Gallagher is his lack of shots in recent seasons. He’s hovering below 10 shots per 60 at 5v5, which is the lowest shot rate since his rookie season.

He increased his 2022-23 shot rate slightly compared to last year, but his individual high-danger chances remained quite low, indicating that the increase in quantity was not tied to an increase in quality.

To get back to scoring, Gallagher must be among the league leaders in high-danger shots, which is more a matter of positioning and usage than health, although health is definitely a key factor.

If he fails to produce next season, then you’d have no choice but to evaluate the options going forward, and that includes a possible buyout.

Burgeoning Blueline

This is a VERY interesting question from Charles.

I’ve done long-term projections in the past, and every single time I have underestimated the amount of movement on NHL rosters. Most times, one, or perhaps even two players remain with the team by the time the projections can be verified.

Obviously, the Canadiens are in the midst of a rebuild, but there are only three defencemen on this year’s roster that were featured regularly in their 2021-22 lineup (David Savard, Joel Edmundson, Chris Wideman).

But I don’t think there will be as much movement as there has been in the past.

Kaiden Guhle is here to stay, so he’ll be part of the 2025-26 roster.

But what about the rest of the rookies on the blue line? Jordan Harris and Arber Xhekaj have fared well this year under difficult circumstances, but neither is expected to develop into top pairing defencemen. In this scenario, Harris has been traded for a young forward, but Xhekaj is still with the team, featuring on the bottom pairing, although he’s been shifted to the right side.

That leaves five spots on the blueline if we’re including a spare.

Lane Hutson will have made the team and established himself as the club’s best defenceman.

I also expected Adam Engstrom to make his way to North America and earn a spot on the roster, thanks to his creativity and smooth skating.

We’re down to three spots available, with only one defenceman playing on the right side, which leads me to believe Logan Mailloux will be given a chance to prove his worth.

I also think Justin Barron will stick with the team, which leaves a single spot on the right side of the defence, which will be filled via a free-agent signing or a trade. Ideally, the Canadiens will be able to find an established talent that can log heavy minutes on the right.

The projected defensive lineup in three years (which will definitely be wrong):

Lane Hutson – Free Agent/Trade

Kaiden Guhle – Logan Mailloux

Adam Engstrom – Arber Xhekaj

Justin Barron


Hectic Schedule

I always appreciate it when fans take a moment to think about the person behind the screen, and I genuinely appreciate this question.

You may have noticed I’m not that active on Twitter lately, and for that, I apologize. I’ve been running around trying to fix an issue that arose when a former employer sent sensitive information to the wrong address for almost a year.

Consequently, my identity was stolen, which has caused an endless stream of headaches that have forced me to travel back and forth between two provinces.

However, I have food in the fridge and a roof over my head, so I’m quite lucky in the grand scheme of things. It could always be worse!

Mango Mojo

I don’t buy mango juice, mostly because I find it tastes awful, at least compared to the real thing.

On that note, I am excited that mango season is right around the corner because no other fruit comes close to matching its explosive flavour and juiciness.

As for the sandwiches, try DiRienzo’s on Beech. For $7 you’ll enjoy one of the best sandwiches of your life. Personally, I suggest going for the Diavolo with spicy eggplant. I’ve heard they’re not the best sandwich shop in town anymore, which is likely since my intel on Ottawa is close to a decade old.

Farmboy used to have excellent sandwiches available, but for the most part, you’re right, the deli-counter sandwiches in Ottawa are to be avoided.

As for the train issue, it’s ridiculous we do not have a high-speed rail that covers the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, seeing as the majority of the Canadian population resides in that stretch of land.

But there are two significant issues at the moment.

First, passenger trains are not given priority in Canada. Freight trains always have the right of way, which forces passenger trains to defer to them whenever there’s a conflict on the rails, thus causing delays.

Secondly, those freight trains are rough on the infrastructure. Canada did look into getting a high-speed rail in the 70s, but the lack of maintenance on the tracks and the overall quality of the infrastructure meant the speed at which those trains would travel would be considered unsafe.

With a significant investment in train infrastructure, which is long overdue, the project becomes a little more realistic, but as it stands, investing in that particular infrastructure will not win you an election, and thus, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

Edmundson’s Ending

If the Canadiens are willing to retain salary, not only will there be many suitors for Edmundson, there’s a decent possibility the Habs end up putting their hands on yet another first-round pick.

That may sound quite high, but NHL Insider Chris Johnston recently opined a first-round pick will probably be in play.

Snubbing Shutt

Both players probably deserve to have their numbers retired, but Montreal has established a certain standard for sending another number to the rafters.

And it’s unreasonable.

Shutt and Lemaire played pivotal roles for the Canadiens, and it must be noted Shutt still holds the single-season goal-scoring record (60).

They won several Stanley Cups, and if they’re deemed unfit to join other Canadiens greats, we can simply put an end to the idea of celebrating players that were not lucky enough to be part of the best teams in league history.

We need to separate the modern era from the years following the expansion beyond the original six teams, or else an entire generation of players (and fans) will be left out of their rightful spot in the team’s history.

Dubois Decision

I assume the Jets would ask for a top prospect (among other things), and that means someone like Lane Hutson.

It would not be an unreasonable ask, especially since Dubois is about to enter his statistical prime.

On that note, for now, I would bet on his desire to play for the Canadiens, taking a patient approach that would allow the Canadiens to maintain control of their top prospects while also testing Dubois’ intentions.

I see no rush to acquire Dubois. If he wants to play for the Canadiens, let him prove it.

Retro Record

More than anything, NHL players like consistency. They’ve lived their entire lives with a strict routine, and they rarely change their approach.

When it comes to the powder blue jerseys, I think the truth is simply that the team is awful this season, and the poor results are a result of a team that simply doesn’t have an above-average NHL roster.

The players probably don’t love changing jerseys for a marketing ploy, but I doubt it hinders their performance.

When it comes down to it, I’d suggest that it’s the fans that are annoyed with the constant flood of jerseys that count upon nostalgia for sales.

Nostalgia is a strong influence when it comes to purchasing merchandise, but there’s definitely a point of diminishing returns, especially when the recently introduced jerseys are far from creative.

We’ve hit that point. Canadiens fans have made it clear.

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Hey Marco,

Do you feel that Matheson won’t be part of the plans moving forward? I noticed he wasn’t in your projection for the D in 2025-2026. You don’t think we’ll resign him?

PS I’ve been squawking for years to have Shutt’s number retired. I agree on Lemaire, and I think Toe Blake’s #6 deserves it too. Everyone thinks about the managerial magic, but his on-ice exploits were pretty darn awesome too.

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