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Canadiens Veterans Impressing With NHL Trade Deadline Looming



Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Hoffman

With a full row of NHL scouts visiting the Bell Centre of late, certain Montreal Canadiens veterans have seemingly upped their games at the perfect time.

With the first half of the season proving to be tedious for the likes of Jonathan Drouin, Mike Hoffman, and Evgenii Dadonov, their play of late has been much more encouraging.

Although better late than never, their recent uptick in performance could help provide extra leverage for general manager Kent Hughes to get something, if anything at all, out of these assets leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline.

Take Mike Hoffman for example.

The 33-year-old veteran has registered two goals and eight assists for 10 points in 12 games since the start of 2023; almost doubling his point totals this season in half as many games.

Only Kirby Dach has produced more offence than Hoffman in that span; with eight of ten points coming at even strength.

Seen primarily as a power play specialist at the height of his career, it’s Hoffman’s even-strength game that has seen an uptick in performance, despite the underlying numbers showing a dip in performance.

Much of that could be attributed to playing alongside Dach, who has been the Canadiens’ most productive player of 2023, but Hoffman’s more than held his own offensively.

With one year remaining on his contract, which carries a cap hit of $4.5M, Hoffman could be an intriguing piece to a club with a competent power play structure looking to boost their scoring depth.

Meanwhile, Evgenii Dadonov has picked up his game considerably over the last six weeks.

He’s the only Canadiens forward to have a positive share of chances while on the ice (50.4%), while also posting a positive expected goal differential (50.1%); meaning that he’s helped produce much more than he’s conceded.

In his last 15 games, the veteran forward has put up two goals and six assists for eight points; but, with a little more luck, he could easily have more.

The 33-year-old pending free agent has a $5M cap hit that will be difficult to fit without some sort of retention from the Montreal Canadiens.

That being said, his improved play and the Canadiens’ fiscal flexibility thanks to their Long-Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) space could make it work with the right team.

And then there’s Jonathan Drouin.

Despite missing seven games in the month of January due to an injury, Drouin has one of the most interesting offensive trajectories on the team.

The 27-year-old pending free agent has put up eight points, all assists, in his last nine games with the Montreal Canadiens, while playing with 4th-line talent and recent call-ups from the Laval Rocket.

Drouin has been especially effective as a puck-mover on the powerplay for the Canadiens over the last six weeks, threading the needle on multiple occasions from prime scoring chances.

Although his lack of tangible goal-scoring could be worrisome for a prospective club; it isn’t for a lack of trying, as Drouin has had some golden opportunities to break his 13-month goalless drought.

His $5.5M cap hit and recent injury history will be major obstacles in making any trade viable for a contending team. However, with continued offensive production, a strong bill of health and some salary retention, there could very well be a market for Drouin.

All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick.