The Montreal Canadiens were involved in a major trade on Sunday.
General manager Kent Hughes facilitated a three-team deal, which allowed the San Jose Sharks to trade superstar defenceman Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Trade Details
The Canadiens received Jeff Petry, Casey DeSmith, Nathan Legare, and a second-round pick (2025, Pittsburgh). The Penguins will retain 25 percent of Petry’s salary.
The Penguins received Karlsson, former Habs forward Rem Pitlick, Dillon Hamaliuk, and a third-round pick (2026, San Jose)
The Sharks received Mikael Granlund, Jan Rutta, former Habs forward Mike Hoffman, and a first-round pick (2024, Pittsburgh). The Sharks will retain $1.5 million of Karlsson’s cap hit.
There are a lot of moving parts here, but the first impression is that Hughes pulled off a masterful trade from a Montreal Canadiens point of view.
Petry was originally traded to the Penguins in exchange for Mike Matheson and a 2023 fourth-round pick. Ryan Poehling was also sent to the Penguins in the trade.
And though his time with the Canadiens ended poorly from a public relations point of view, we must remember that he still finished the 2021-22 season as the best Habs defenceman, by a significant margin.
He’s not the same defenceman he once was, but he can still eat up precious minutes on the right side of the defence, a clear organizational weakness for the Canadiens.
The trade also helped the Canadiens solve their logjam up front. Neither Pitlick nor Hoffman were considered positive-value players. Hoffman had been offered for free on the trade market in the past, with no takers.
Adding goaltender Casey DeSmith to the mix also improves another area of weakness: goaltending depth. As it stands, Cayden Primeau must be put on waivers if the team hopes to send him to the Laval Rocket, which means the Canadiens were at risk of starting the year with a dearth of goaltenders.
DeSmith finished the last three seasons with a .905, .914, and .911 save percentage, respectively.
Lagare, 22, is a Montreal native that was chosen 74th overall in 2019. He is yet to make an impact in the NHL, however, he did find some moderate success in the AHL. In all likelihood, he will end up with the Laval Rocket in the AHL.
There’s likely more to come in this saga. It would not be surprising if Petry is flipped by the Canadiens, with additional salary retention to sweeten the pot.
But as it stands, the trade itself is a net win for the Montreal Canadiens.
They cleared space up front for younger players such as Jesse Ylonen and Rafael Harvey-Pinard while moving two overpaid forwards out of the organization.
DeSmith could end up pushing goaltender Samuel Montembeault for the starter position, but even if he ends up as the third option in Montreal, he will be a significant upgrade over the previous situation.
And, of course, adding a second-round pick to the mix is always a strong move for a rebuilding team. In this case, the pick is in 2025, which means it doesn’t hold as much value as a pick from 2024 since it will take longer for the player selected to make his way to the NHL, but it’s never a bad idea to add quality draft picks to the rebuild cupboard.