Growth Of Canadiens Young Defencemen Could Force A Trade
The Montreal Canadiens have seen some important growth from multiple prospects on the back end, making the time ripe for them to take advantage of the market.
The rapid progression of youngsters like Arber Xhekaj, Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris at the NHL level has been a story in itself for the Montreal Canadiens.
Then you can also factor in the notable growth of Justin Barron, William Trudeau and Nicolas Beaudin with the Laval Rocket.
Outside of the organization, Lane Hutson is on a historic run, while Adam Engstrom and Logan Mailloux are also having impressive seasons.
Needless to say, the Canadiens are seemingly flush with potential middle-pair/bottom-pair defencemen and a roster crunch is inevitably coming.
Montreal Canadiens Log Jam
At the start of the season, the Montreal Canadiens had four veteran defenders on the club in Mike Matheson, Joel Edmundson, David Savard and Chris Wideman; and they intended on having two rookie defencemen join the fold to start the year, with other youngsters alternating in and out.
That plan did not come to pass, as Xhekaj, Harris and Guhle impressed to the point of forcing their way onto the NHL roster. Taking advantage of long-term injuries to Edmundson and Matheson, the young trio of defenders and waiver-wire pick-up Johnathan Kovacevic came and performed like NHL defencemen right from the first puck drop.
Even upon their return, the Canadiens tried to rotate their prospects in and out of the lineup, but the Canadiens looked notably sluggish with a more mature defensive corps on the ice.
Since then, the injury bug has hit the Canadiens, and Justin Barron has now joined the party in the NHL and has also performed notably better than last season or even training camp.
With nine seemingly capable NHL defencemen pushing and more expected to be serious call-up candidates in the coming year; the timing is now perfect to consider making a move.
Position Of Strength
With Xhekaj, Harris and Guhle looking to all be primed for NHL duty moving forward, the Canadiens have an overabundance of left-shot defencemen.
Last year, the Canadiens made the move to sacrifice youngster Alexander Romanov in a flurry of deals that eventually resulted in the acquisition of Kirby Dach; which is paying early dividends already.
With the emergence of this young trio, and the Canadiens see rapid growth from Trudeau, Beaudin, Hutson and more, the timing is perfect for them to liquidate one of their veteran, left-shot defencemen.
Mike Matheson, who was acquired last summer in exchange for Jeff Petry, doesn’t seem like the right kind of player to be moving at this time; as his mobility and penchant for even-strength scoring make him a unique member of the defensive corps at the moment.
Meanwhile, Joel Edmundson, who still has another year on his four-year $3.5M deal, plays a very similar style of hockey to that of Guhle and Xhekaj; making him more expendable than Matheson.
With interest rising in the former Stanley Cup winner, the Canadiens could look to strike while the iron is hot right now on the NHL Trade market.
As long as Edmundson’s health is in order, there will be interest in the Canadiens’ veteran defenceman.
Must Read: Potential Suitors For Joel Edmundson On NHL Trade Market
He’s currently been out of action for the last two weeks due to a lower/upper-body injury, but was labelled as day-to-day.
If Edmundson can return after the All-Star break and play some meaningful games for the Canadiens, it could help general manager Kent Hughes deal from a position of strength once again and potentially extract that valuable 2023 1st-round pick he’d like to add to his collection.
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The Canadiens left side on defence is as is stated in the article a position of strength and with the rookies on LD performing at a high level , trading Edmundson would make the most sense. . I think there’s a case to be made for considering trading Savard as well .
At the beginning of this season Savard and Wideman were the only viable right D options for the Habs . Kovacevic was in Winnipeg, Barron in Laval and Beaudin who’s a lefty but plays the right side too was in Chicago’s minor league system . With these three having shown considerable growth in their games this year , it changes the landscape for the right side of the defence . Adding to that Mathieson and the three rookies on LD all have made the transition to the right side when called upon . Savard’s experience was important to the development of the kids this season but the group of 5 rookies on the blue line who started the season with about 20 NHL games played between them will have about 300 man games played after this season . Savard’s trade value should be higher now than it will be as he ages and his contract ends after two more seasons and it may be time to move him if a good enough offer is made .
Agreed. CH’s defensive depth and more defensive prospects will allow us to keep the best and use the remainder for trade capital. We can speed up the rebuild and upgrade the rest of the team with our surplus of good D men
Matheson i’d trade once he’s healthy long enough to.
He hasnt been bad dont get me wrong but he’s hurt Harris’s growth.
Match up their game logs and see Harris’s decline in minutes and success when he returns to the MTL Canadiens off LTIR.
I mean Eddy has to go too , dont get me wrong.
But you can do that for a bigger profit next TDL
But moving Matheson should be the higher priority.
He’s a good defensman just better to do it now as in 1-2 years we’ll be talking about moving Harris because one of our other young defensman pulled a Xhekaj or Ghule taking a job at camp by sheer force much earlier then projected .
Xhekaj- Hutson(protected at all times)
Beaudin (versitile 7th guy)
Thats the dream 3 years from now
Team Canada’s top pair doing it in MTL
Perfect set up man for Lane with almost a Weber/PK dynamic to their contrasting styles.
Top 4 qualiy on bottom pair and special teams leaders.
Beaudin a special team Defensman who plays both sides and chemistry with Barron.
Even then Harris and Beaudin might be pushed out by Engstrom and Trudeau depending on their growth the next 3 years.
It would be sorta sad to see Edmundson go, but I’m in the camp that if we get a good offer, trade him. That back of his worries me. I know he’s extremely popular in the dressing room, so hopefully it doesn’t disrupt things too much, but we have way too many LD, so something has to give.