Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes made good on his word, trading former alternate captain Jeff Petry to the Detroit Red Wings, in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick and defenceman Gustav Lindstrom.
It was far from a great trade from an asset management point of view, especially when we consider the Canadiens retained 50 percent of Petry’s salary, however, at the very least, it should help improve the perception of the franchise among NHL players.
Hughes also discussed the possibility of trading goaltender Casey DeSmith, who was acquired in the three-way trade that saw Erik Karlsson head to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Simply put, finding a home for DeSmith won’t be easy, and Hughes knows it.
“I spoke with Casey (and Jeff) when the trade went down,” said Hughes. “Casey was in a situation in Pittsburgh that was too busy, with four goalies. He arrives to the Montreal Canadiens in a situation that also has four goalies. I told Casey to be patient, the goal is not to bury you in the American Hockey League. We will continue to look at possible trades or to make some changes. But it’ll take patience with the goalie market, it’s always slow.”
Not only is the market slow, but as we’ve established, the returns for goalies in NHL trades are also limited, to say the least.
That leaves Hughes in a rather difficult situation.
Most teams don’t need another goaltender, and if they do, they generally aren’t interested in paying an arm and a leg to acquire them. There are simply too many goaltenders available and too few spots to accommodate them.
Montreal Canadiens Trade Options
DeSmith’s numbers over the last five years are decent. He’s saved 3530 of the 3870 shots he’s faced, which equates to a .912 save percentage. He saved 4.5 goals above expected during 5v5 play last season, good for 27th in the NHL.
Therefore, we can establish that DeSmith still brings value to the table, to a certain extent.
He’s in the last year of his contract which comes with a $1.8 million salary cap hit.
A quick look around the NHL reveals there are a few teams that could have some interest in a player like DeSmith, though, the options are few and far between.
Following A Trade
If a team like the Boston Bruins ends up trading one of their fantastic goaltenders to bolster their centre depth, they could be in the market for a reliable backup. This should be considered a long-shot option for the Habs, not only because there needs to be movement before a deal can occur, but also because historically, the Canadiens and the Bruins do not engage in trade talks.
The last time the two teams managed a trade was back in 2001 when the Bruins acquired Eric Weinrich in exchange for Patrick Traverse.
The Anaheim Ducks may end up needing a goaltender, especially since there were rumblings John Gibson wanted to move on. They currently have Lukas Dostal and Alex Stalock signed to contracts, which mitigates the chances they’ll want a goaltender like DeSmith. The key for the Canadiens in this situation is that the Ducks may want to add some depth if they do move Gibson, given that a Stalock-Dostal tandem is likely to struggle throughout the year.
Both the St-Louis Blues and the Tampa Bay Lightning have their starting goaltenders in place, but their backup goaltender situation leaves something to be desired.
Joel Hofer, St-Louis’ backup, is 23 years old and had the same save percentage as DeSmith last season (.905), which means the odds they’ll trade for a much older goalie are rather low. Hofer has only played eight games in his career, which may be the saving grace for a potential deal, seeing as DeSmith has much more experience.
Jonas Johansson played a handful of games for Colorado Avalanche’s backup last season and is expected to be the backup for the Lightning in 2023-24. He was great in the three games he played for the Avalanche, but also fair to say that Johansson has struggled to find his rhythm since he made his NHL debut with the Sabers in 2019.
DeSmith has produced better numbers and is a safer option, but we have to consider that the Lightning are already paying Andrei Vasilevskiy $9.5 million per season. Johansson’s cap hit is a mere $775,000, less than half of DeSmith’s.
If the Lightning are desperate to take another run at the Stanley Cup, DeSmith could come into play, though the word ‘could’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence.
The Philadelphia Flyers are also in a tough situation due to the Ivan Fedotov situation in Russia. The IIHF ruled in favour of the Flyers, deeming that Fedetov violated his NHL contract by signing with CKSA, but as it stands, he’s currently playing preseason games in the KHL.
They recently signed backup Samuel Ersson, who had a .899 save percentage in 12 games last season, but if they want to improve their goalie depth they may look into acquiring DeSmith.
A team like the Ottawa Senators could stand to improve its goaltending depth by replacing Anton Forsberg with DeSmith, but they’re already paying Joonas Korpisalo $4 million per season, not to mention $2.75 million per season for Forsberg. There isn’t much financial maneuverability to be had when discussing their goaltending options.
The San Jose Sharks are definitely in need of a goaltender, at least from a performance standpoint. Right now they have MacKenzie Blackwood and Kaapo Kahkonen signed to deals, and neither have produced good numbers lately, but the Sharks aren’t exactly in a hurry to compete, especially not next season.
And finally, the Columbus Blue Jackets have Daniil Tarasov as their expected backup heading into next year. He had a 3.91 goals-against average last season, as well as a paltry .892 save percentage. Much like the Sharks, the odds the Blue Jackets will come knocking for DeSmith are slim, given that they’re far from being ready to qualify for the playoffs.
Things can and will change. Once the Winnipeg Jets trade Connor Hellebuyck they may be in the market for a goaltender, which opens up another possibility.
And there’s also a chance I missed a team that could use some goaltending help.
If he came with a slightly lower salary cap hit, it would probably open a few more doors, but Hughes already retained salary on two contracts and is unlikely to want to use their final retention spot on a trade that is essentially a favour to a player that is yet to dress for the Montreal Canadiens.
As it stands, the options to trade DeSmith to an NHL team that will use him are quite limited.
All Montreal Canadiens salary cap information via CapFriendly.