Connect with us

Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Injuries Could Force Trade Deadline Strategy Shift



Montreal Canadiens GM Kent hughes on Canadiens trades

The many injuries sustained by Montreal Canadiens veterans could force a strategy shift leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline.

As it currently stands the Montreal Canadiens have about $4.5M in cap space with Sean Monahan currently on Long-Term Injury Reserve (LTIR).

The Habs currently have Monahan, Carey Price and Paul Byron on LTIR, while also having Brendan Gallagher, Arber Xhekaj, Juraj Slafkovsky, Cole Caufield, Kaiden Guhle, and Jake Evans on Injured Reserve (IR).

Despite being on IR, the six players above still count against the Canadiens’ salary cap in that process, but not against their 23-man roster limit.

The Canadiens are preparing to try and move out some veterans to clear up roster spots for younger players, but it might prove difficult with their most valuable players on the shelf.

With the health of their players like Monahan and Joel Edmundson in a constant state of flux, the Canadiens could be forced to change their trade strategy leading up to March 3.

Here’s how it could work:

In Limbo

If Monahan were forced to seek surgery to repair what two months of rigorous rehabbing could not, it would be a massive blow to the Canadiens’ trade strategy.

The idea of taking on a 1st-round pick from the Calgary Flames to take on Monahan, only to flip him at the NHL Trade Deadline for a 1st-round pick would have been grand larceny from the Canadiens.

However, with Monahan’s health plateauing as of late, he may very well be shut down for the rest of the year if things don’t turn around in a hurry.

If Monahan’s health doesn’t improve and he is forced to remain on LTIR for the remainder of the season, the Canadiens could shift their strategy to becoming cap brokers at the NHL Trade Deadline.

That means the Canadiens could get into the business of taking on short-term contracts for assets, or acting as a third team in a salary-retention trade.

Not only would the Canadiens have $4.5M in space with Monahan out for the season, but they’d have the ability to increase that amount, should the need arise.

LTIR Headache

Although the Canadiens do have $4.5M in eligible cap space by way of LTIR, that could quickly change.

The Canadiens could further maximize their cap space by putting Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky on LTIR, as both are expected to miss the rest of the season.

There’s also the possibility that Arber Xhekaj, who was spotted at the Bell Centre in a sling on Sunday afternoon, is also likely done for the season, as the Canadiens have sent him to a specialist to determine the true gravity of his injury.

Should Xhekaj, unfortunately, receive some bad news in the next few weeks, it would be another $828,333 the Canadiens could add to their LTIR total.

That’s a potential $2.7M boost in cap space that the Canadiens can utilize should the need for extra cap space ever arise; raising the Canadiens’ total LTIR pool to 7.2M.

But they can increase it a little bit further yet.

Temporarily Injured Players

If players like Kaiden Guhle and Brendan Gallagher were to return before the NHL Trade Deadline, it would force the Canadiens to send some former members of the Rocket back down to Laval.

In doing so, their cap hits would also come off the books, as they’d be replaced in the lineup by the returning Guhle and/or Gallagher.

Guhle practiced with the Canadiens in a non-contact jersey on Monday and will be travelling with the team to New Jersey and Philadelphia, meaning he could be close to a return.

Meanwhile, Gallagher has yet to hit the ice since his lower-body injury and was seen earlier this month in a walking boot while on vacation.

If Guhle were to return before March 3, it would give the Montreal Canadiens an extra $750,000, as Corey Schueneman would be returned to the AHL; bringing their total up to a potential $8.1M in cap space.

With potentially $8.1M to work with, along with the ability to retain on up to three contracts at a time, the Canadiens could still be active leading up to March 3.

Just not the way they initially thought.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I didn’t realize we could have so many players on LTIR. Why would we not have had all these guys that have been out for so long on LTIR already? Use our record-breaking injury woes to our advantage so at least we get some positive out of that huge negative.

Pierre B.

A team would typically avoid the paperwork until the LTIR cap relief is needed. LTIR cap relief is useful while the player is out, but when he comes back, cap compliance becomes an issue, especially if the team has taken new contracts. When a GM knows for certain that a player is not coming back before the end of the season, he can then use that LTIR cap relief to the team’s advantage (e.g. Price, before the start of the season). Otherwise, GMs tend to be careful.


That’s what I’m talking about Caufield and Slafkovsky are done for the season. We know that and have known that since they left the lineup. So why not start accruing cap space asap in order to be able to maximize it to our advantage?

Captain Kirk

That’s why Hughes and company are paid big $ to make adjustments as things happen. It’s the ability of the gm to be astute and adjust which makes the difference. We armchair GM’s of course have our opinions which we provide in platforms like this

MHN 2023 NHL Draft

MHN in your inbox

Enter your email address and get all of our articles sent directly to your inbox

MHN on Facebook