The 2023-24 lineup is starting to become a little clearer now that the Montreal Canadiens have re-signed forward Sean Monahan to a one-year contract extension.
And while there are still some concerns regarding his ability to stay healthy, the Monahan contract certainly seems like a home run for Kent Hughes and Co, especially given the current free agent and trade landscape in the NHL.
With the new contract in the books, the Canadiens now have three solid centres available next season: Monahan, Nick Suzuki, and Kirby Dach.
Both Dach and Monahan spent some time on the wing last year, with both players showing great results alongside Suzuki and Cole Caufield on the first line. Their impact on the line is notable since no other players in the lineup managed to produce encouraging results alongside the Canadiens’ best two players.
However, if the Canadiens do manage to find a third amigo for the top line, it will allow head coach Martin St-Louis to ice three lines anchored by high-end centres, something the team has not had the ability to do for many years.
Sean Monahan’s goal tonight pic.twitter.com/09c3pxq0yx
— Habs Fan TV (@habsfantv_) November 23, 2022
The contract also brings into question Christian Dvorak’s role on the team. The 27-year-old centre will be heading into the final two years of his contract, which pays him $4.45 million per season. It’s worth noting that the final two years come with modified no-trade clauses, which puts an onus on making a movie before July 1st.
With Monahan in the mix, trading Dvorak seems like the most likely scenario. If the Canadiens do not manage to trade him prior to July 1st, Dvorak’s no-trade clause kicks in, which means he can submit an eight-team no-trade list to the Canadiens.
We’ve discussed the Pierre-Luc Dubois dossier at length this season, and though it seems like the talented centre is dead-set on eventually playing for the Canadiens, the Monahan contract extension provides Hughes with a little more breathing room when evaluating how much they’d be willing to pay to acquire the Quebec native.
Simply put, there’s absolutely no rush to bring Dubois to Montreal now that Monahan has re-signed.
If the Winnipeg Jets decide they want to trade Dubois to another club, the Canadiens can simply start negotiations anew once Dubois lands with his new team.
There’s very little talent available in free agency this summer and even fewer centres that could possibly sign a team-friendly deal such as Monahan’s, which will cost the Canadiens just $1.985 million next season.
Of course, Monahan will have to stay healthy throughout the season if he’s to improve his value on the trade market, but given his skillset, which includes responsible defensive play, impressive offensive capabilities, and strong underlying numbers, it’s rather easy to project Monahan as a player that could yield a strong return at the deadline.
It’s also worth pointing out that his salary cap will be negligible by the time the 2024 trade deadline rolls around, which means he’d become a viable option for many teams attempting to bolster their depth ahead of the playoffs.
Anyway you cut it, the one-year extension signed by Monahan should bring fantastic value to the Montreal Canadiens.