Canadiens Potential ‘Buy-Low’ Targets This Summer
The Montreal Canadiens had success last summer with some strategic, buy-low deals, and they’ll surely look to do the same this summer.
General manager Kent Hughes loves jumping on buy-low situations and taking gambles on players with upside; be it at a reasonable price, or with the inclusion of a sweetener.
Although MHN has already covered some potential cap casualties the Montreal Canadiens could target, there are a group of players rumoured to be available that could be had at a lower cost than initially thought.
Let’s take a look at some of the options:
The New York Rangers are in a tough spot after failing to get out of the first round this spring.
With just $11M in cap space, the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko open to returning and youngsters Alexis Lafrenière and K’Andre Miller left to sign, it’s going to get very tight under the cap for the Rangers for the foreseeable future.
There has been talk that a member of the underwhelming Kid-Line, comprised of newly signed Filip Chytil, Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko, may be sacrificed in the process of improving the club and saving them space on the salary cap.
It does feel like Kakko would be the odd man out, as it wouldn’t make much sense for the Rangers to trade Chytil, having just signed him; while Lafrenière is a former 1st-overall pick.
The former 2nd overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft has everything the Canadiens would be looking for in a young player; he’s 6-foot-3, shoots left and has a howitzer of a shot.
If a similar trade to that of Kirby Dach could be brokered for Kakko, it could have a very similar positive effect for the Canadiens, who are looking to diversify their top 6.
The L.A. Kings pushed the Edmonton Oilers to the limit this past season, but they’re now going to be right up against the salary cap, especially with NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman confirming that they’d like to retain Vladislav Gavrikov.
Retaining Gavrikov and signing restricted free agents Gabe Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari and Jaret Anderson-Dolan will likely eat up all their remaining cap space; meaning that one of thir forwards is likely to be sacrificed to have the club improve on defence.
Friedman mentioned that Viktor Arvidsson and his $4.2M cap hit could be the player sacrificed to give the club some flexibility under the cap; as his contract is set to conclude at the end of the 2023-2024 season.
It could make sense for the Canadiens to jump on such an opportunity to add such a versatile player on the cheap, and then potentially flip him for a higher return at the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline.
Granted, Arvidsson wouldn’t come free, the Montreal Canadiens could surely get more than what they paid for simply by holding onto him until March.
Alex Newhook is another interesting candidate for general manager Kent Hughes, as the two have a very familiar relationship dating back to his minor hockey days.
Selected immediately after Cole Caufield at 16th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Newhook had a significant amount of hype around him after a dominating stint in the NCAA.
But he hasn’t been able to play that kind of game with the Avalanche, failing to take on the role of #2 centre for Colorado in the absence of Nazem Kadri.
With the injury to Gabriel Landeskog opening the door to spend some money in free agency or via trade, it could make sense for the Avalanche to try and get value for Newhook, while going after the likes of Ryan O’Reilly to fill their second-line centre spot.
Newhook plays precisely the style that head coach Martin St-Louis has been implanting in Montreal, as the Canadiens want to play a high-tempo offensive game that is focused on transition and high-end skill.
Whether it be as a winger or centre, Newhook would be in a ripe environment to have his top qualities optimized by St-Louis style and method of coaching, in a far less stressful environment than that of the Avalanche, who are in a win-now setting.
Tyson Barrie was recently traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Nashville Predators in the blockbuster that sent Mattias Ekholm to Edmonton.
With one year left on his $4.5M deal, the retooling Predators, who already have an abundance of right-shot defencemen, could look to move the offensive defenceman to free up some roster space for younger talent.
Nashville is usually rather active on the free agent market as well, and has the draft capital to bring in some high-paid salary players as well, should they want to turn it around quickly.
By freeing themselves of Barrie, they would have more cap space to focus on improving their forward corps, which requires a significant boost in talent if they want to be competitive in the near future.
The Canadiens can not only offer the Predators roster relief, but has some forwards they”d like to rid themselves of in order to free up roster space at forward for youngsters like Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylönen; making the two clubs perfect trade partners.
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IMO Hugo will see what’s comes up on the waiver wire ala Kovacevic before going big on a signing. This gives the prospects a chance to develop in Laval for a 2-3 yrs at a reasonable cap hit. They will have some big contracts coming up.
couldnt have been said better!
So Hoffman or Armia for Barrie?
If we’re trying to free up roster space for kids like RHP & Ylönen, then why would we be interested in adding Newhook, Arvidsson or Kakko? Wouldn’t those moves be counterproductive? Same goes for Barrie on defence. We presently have NINE defenceman on the NHL roster. Why would we want to add another one? We need to be moving multiple players at forward and defence OUT of Montreal and not bringing any in if we are to open roster spots for all the kids we have waiting in the overcrowded cue for their shot at full time NHL duty. Ideally, we move out at least Hoffman and Armia on forward and Edmundson, Savard and Wideman on defence. Moving out those 3 Dmen creates spots for Matheson, Guhle, Harris, Xhekaj, Kovacevic and Barron as our 6 D. We can call up a guy like Schueneman from Laval as our 7th Dman which frees up more ice time in Laval for the kids we want to develop there. Moving out Armia & Hoffman (easier said than done) create the spots needed for Harvey-Pinard and Ylönen. The issue will be if any other kids prove they deserve a shot at training camp, who else can we move? Our top 6 will consist of Suzuki, Caufield, Dach, Anderson, Slafkovsky and our #5 pick (likely). Our bottom 6 will consist of Dvorak, Evans, Gallagher, Pezzetta, RHP & Ylönen with either Belzile or Pitlick as the 13th forward. Guys like Roy, Farrell, etc will all have to spend the year in Laval (with call-ups after the inevitable injury parade begins). There is absolutely no room to bring in players from outside the organization without moving many bodies out first/simultaneously.
I could see Kakko as his age and upside complement a position we need help at. Newhook? Maybe, I’m not sure if there’s a lot of upside there and it would probably need to be at wing. Barrie. absolutely not. He doesn’t do anything to advance the Habs.
Hi John. Thanks for commenting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying whether any of these players are good/bad or potentially useful, I’m saying we already have way too many players and we can’t be bringing in more without moving out a whole bunch first. Although, I question bringing in players at a cost to us that block the path of kids we already have waiting in the wings for their opportunity. Why waste time developing kids if we are just going to go out and grab someone to take their spot when they’re already proving they’re ready for full time duty. It makes no sense to me. The same applies to any chatter about bringing in potential UFAs once free agency opens. Is fun to read/write about the possibilities, but it’s all a waste of time unless we start clearing out bodies first.
If Kakko comes in, who goes out? To be effective and put him in a place to succeed, he would need to be on the top 2 lines otherwise he’s in no better a situation than he was in with the Rangers. Kakko is not an improvement over any of the guys I mentioned in our top 6 already.
It’s definitely a process for the Habs. Hoffman, Armia, Drouin, Gallagher and Anderson all need to be moved within 5 years. Most of them a lot sooner. I’m not a big fan of buyouts as they limit what you can do going forward. It’s a bandaid over top of earlier mistakes. Better to avoid certain types of deals that spell trouble. How did we trade for Alzner? Did nobody have a look at his game prior to making that deal? Drouin was likewise avoidable, based on his history. I forgive Bergy a lot because he was learning on the job and I don’t know if the lack of draft success was on the scouts or him or if the failure to establish an analytics dept. was his decision as an “old school” guy or Molson pinching pennies or what. Laval appeared to have coaching and development that wasn’t working until near the end. Some of what he did got him legitimately fired and we have a modern management team now that I have some faith in. Won’t happen overnight, but it is important to remember that it can be a real can of multi-year worms getting out of bad deals once they’re committed to. Don’t rush. Be sure!
I hate buyouts too. Although, from what I read, Armia’s or Hoffman’s wouldn’t be that bad actually. The Alzner buyout has definitely tainted my thoughts on buyouts. Btw, we signed Alzner as a free agent, we didn’t trade for him.
I was/am a Bergevin supporter too. His trading skills were exceptional (minus Drouin of course). I’m not so sure that drafting was the problem as much as zero development afterwards was. That was what has set us back during his tenure. But, I agree, the modernization of the franchise that has occurred since HuGo took over was looooonnnggg overdue.
The reason being is that kakkoo and newhook have very high end skill with potential and would drastically put montreal top 6 more dangerous with suz,caul,dach,slav,
and then signing Dubois that’s a very high end 6 to 7 players and big players besides caul,Suz
To be clear, I’m not questioning whether the players are good or bad or will make us better. I’m questioning how the heck do we find space for them with all the forwards we already have and, is it wise to go out and get anyone if they’re blocking the path to guys we’ve invested time in developing?
The Habs finished 5th last. There are cleerly holes to fill so let’s not pretend that our plethora of options are necessarily great options.
If we can add a top 6 forward … talent and/or picks are going the other way thus creating a roster opening.
With 2 consecutive seasons of the most Injuries in history having a few extra bodies is likely a requirement and some of the defenseman can still clear waivers.
The Rangers wouldn’t take any of the pieces we’re trying to dump as compensation for Kakko. Therefore, we’re losing players we want to keep or picks. If it’s picks, then the overcrowded situation gets even worse.
Maybe not my preferred way to do things, but some players might be more amenable to trade if they aren’t playing much. On the other hand it ties the hands CAP wise.
here we go with rhe dubous talk again…
Kakko won’t be an improvement over whomever we take at #5 this year or Anderson so I wouldn’t call him an upgrade.
Why can’t you do both?
Because to do both would require us to move out half a dozen players, which is unlikely. I’m not against it, I’m just saying from a feasibility perspective, it’s probably a pipe dream that we could move Hoffman, Armia, Edmundson, Savard, Wideman, and more to make room for everyone we’d like to add. Clearing all 3 of those Dmen (very unlikely) alone, still just makes room for the 6 D we already have. Moving Hoffman & Armia, plus letting Drouin, Byron, Tierney all walk gets use closer to freeing up spots for the players we already have waiting in the wings, but as my original post shows, there’s still no room for Pitlick, Belzile or any surprise kids ready to make the jump from Laval/junior, etc. I just think the probability of being able to accomplish all these moves (and more) is not likely to become reality.
They don’t have to acquire all of them!
They’re potential targets.
It requires simply moving out a player or two.
Moving a player or two won’t do it. We already have Pitlick and Belzile as extras in my original post. So moving out a player or two still doesn’t open a spot in the lineup. And, for guys like Kakko or Newhook to find the success that eluded them in their original teams, they’ll have to be put on the top 2 lines otherwise they are no better off than they were. And if that’s the case, I’d say we’d be downgrading our top 6 from the players we already have in place.
Hoffman should be worth something if we aren’t too fussy. Byron and Tierney can walk. Keep Byron around in a development or coaching role maybe. Armia appears to be a disaster nearly beyond understanding. Edmundson will hopefully be healthy and appeal to a playoff bound team. If not then we eat a year I guess. Not everything can work out sunshine and roses. I would look to trade Savard sooner rather than wait til he runs into injury problems. Wideman will have to go at some point before too long. That gets us trimmed down quite a bit, with CAP flexibility to work with and a young and pretty talented group
Kakko has a much higher ceiling then RHP or Ylonen. This is a potential move like getting Dach. Depending on the cost to acquire him … sounds like it’s definitely worth pursuing.
I don’t disagree, but to be successful, he has to be put in a position to succeed on the top 2 lines. If that’s the case, I’d say we’d be downgrading the top 6 from the players I mentioned in my original post.
i would trade for kakko .. 100%.. if he doesnt pan out.. we have an abundance of forwards in the minors that would suit both top-6 and bottom 6. So i dont know why everyone thinks hugo is gonna pull a MB when infact i know he won’t.. as he won’t sign Dubois here also. Dubois will be ( like everyone whose on his band wagon been saying) a too high of an asking price when hes available. Which doesnt suit the route hugo is going down.. He checks all the boxes.. dont get me wrong.. but i know for certain he will under perform here due to media pressure and him being a french born hockey player! so alot will be asked from him.. something he isnt use to .Again.. dont get me wrong. hes a good player… but with all the young talent we have in the pipeline.. i just dont see how he will fit here.
Yeah, young, big and talented center. What do we want with a guy like that!
Dubois and the jets 1st
In exchange for our 5th overall and 2nd rounder
Sign doobie and lets goo