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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Could Be Major Players at The NHL Trade Deadline



Montreal Canadiens hughes

The Montreal Canadiens are showing some great competitiveness, but, if they do ever slow down, they have interesting pieces to be major players at this year’s NHL Trade Deadline.

The start of the NHL season would best be described as somewhat indifferent for the Montréal Canadiens. Putting fellow rebuilders Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Kackets in their place offered a bright spot, as did taking the Toronto Maple Leafs to a shootout loss, but crumbling to the Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils on special teams was tough to watch.

Still, there aren’t any illusions as to the task at hand for the Habs. It’s all about building towards a better future, giving big minutes to top young players, and establishing a core worthy of challenging for the Stanley Cup.

Bright spots for a rebuilding team

A lot of teams that enter into a full rebuild toil for years to try to get the foundations in place. Just look at the Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators and Arizona Coyotes over the last decade, and the San Jose Sharks now. The Montreal Canadiens came rather close to converting on a hastened retool a few years ago, but, now that they’ve decided to take the long route to success, there’s a lot of room to grow before they’re even considered playoff contenders.

This is perfectly demonstrated by Sports Interaction Canada and its novelty and futures markets. To take the Atlantic Division, the platform with a five-star review score puts the Habs rock bottom at 126.00. The only line where the Habs features in the conversation is for an Original Six winner of the Cup, which is at 4.75, or a Canadian Presidents’ Trophy winner at 4.25.

The ceiling is rather low for the Habs, but the team will remain competitive, and the fans will love seeing the haul of picks already collected by general manager Kent Hughes. With the upcoming 2024 and 2025 NHL Drafts, the Habs boast three first-rounders (including both of Montréal’s), three second-rounders, four in the third round, and three in the fourth round. Better still, the gambles on Sean Monahan and Tanner Pearson might just yield even more prospects and picks.

Preparing trade bait

The only impending UFAs of note on the Montreal Canadiens’ roster are goaltender Samuel Montembeault and forwards Sean Monahan and Tanner Pearson. Monahan looks to be the most tantalizing for teams battling in the postseason. His new “prove it” deal with the Montréal Canadiens, as reported by Sportsnet, should reset his value this year after some injury-plagued seasons – if he stays fit.

Of course, it’s very early days, but the 29-year-old has been one of the bright spots on what equates to the team’s veteran line. The points have been nice, but what’ll truly sell Monahan as March approaches is his ability in the faceoff circle and stay healthy. He’s regained his dominance in the faceoff circle, putting up a 57.9% faceoff win percentage through the first seven games of the season. Monahan’s experience, reliability, and cerebral play in the offensive zone could prove incredibly useful in the playoffs.

It may seem a bit unsavory, and might earn a smirk or a laugh, but the best trade partner for Monahan might just be the Boston Bruins. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retired, the team could really do with a boost from a savvy two-way center who can dominate in the faceoff circle. Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle are decent in the duel, but a fully healthy Monahan playing as he did in 2019 would certainly offer an upgrade.

But, if trading within the division is as taboo for Kent Hughes as it is for the fans, they can look to other clubs with needs at center like the Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and more to make a deal. If Monahan can remain healthy and continue to play the way he has this season, there won’t be a shortage of suitors come March.

Naturally, a top-six center like Monahan will always fetch more interest, especially as he’s on a mere $2M deal.

Pearson, a top-nine left winger on $3.25 million, will still be coveted by teams looking to the grind of the postseason. If his point totals and and relentless forecheck are anything to go by, the 31-year-old is ready to battle in the dirty areas once again. Playing the majority of games through to March will be vital, but he should be able to fetch a couple more picks in the first half of the 2024 or 2025 draft. He looks like another solid gamble for the Canadiens and could be a leading candidate for Kent Hughes to use his final retention slot on.

Also factoring in the Montreal Canadiens’ abundant cap space thanks to the LTIR afforded by Carey Price ($10.5M) and Kirby Dach ($3.36M), the club could quickly position itself as a cap broker without having to use a retention slot in the process; as they could absorb another $10M on the books.

Keeping Their Eyes on the Prize

The most important thing for the Habs this season isn’t challenging for a win percentage above .500, but rather keeping everyone healthy. They need the young core on the ice as much as possible, and the two clear trade bait forwards to do the same so that maximum value can be drawn from them when the trade deadline comes around.

But, don’t rule out the Canadiens dangling other assets outside of those two if the offer is too good to pass up. Despite a solid start to the season, the Montreal Canadiens are under no illusion as to what the goal is this season; and any move that pushes that desire forward will be heavily considered.



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Albert Vanular

True Hab fans understand that it would be blasphemy to trade Sean Monahan to the hated Boston Bruins. Anyone but the Bruins,, and the Maple Leafs.


This thought or conversation is not appropriate right now. We are just 7 games into this season. ANYTHING is still possible at this point. Such as:

  1. What if significant injuries occur to the ones you claim could be dealt? Like last season. We all had grand and miraculous plans for X, Y, and Z…none of which ever came to fruition. Don’t count chickens before they hatch. Guys like Monahan, Gallagher, Dvorak, Savard, etc, etc, are prone to injuries.
  2. What if by some small miracle, the Habs are still in 7th place in the conference for a wildcard spot in the playoffs at the TDL? Hughes then has the balls to trade away two or three of the guys who were responsible for this great season, and toss water on this possible fire? I, for one, would NOT want that…I’d rather have a playoff birth – shows this re-build is ahead of schedule.
  3. Right now, we should be more concerned with guys who are flat out not producing anything, but were expected to. Like Slaf, Anderson, and to a smaller extent RHP.

With all due respect, this comment is flawed on several levels.
“Not appropriate”… there’s nothing wrong with discussing what may unfold in the future. It can be fun to dream about cool trades, even if they don’t happen. Players are keeping value up and it bodes well for trades and the future, there’s no harm in discussing potential outcomes.
Also, your approach sounds very much like Marc Bergevin’s “just get into the playoffs and anything can happen!” But that attitude is why we haven’t rebuilt… ever. It’s why we never bottomed out enough to stockpile enough talent to become perennial contenders in decades. If we start prioritizing playoffs before the rebuild calls for it, it’s just more of the same. The point is to get so much talent and assets that we can contend for YEARS. Yes, we got a couple good picks from losing for 2 years, but that’s not enough. Pushing playoffs now makes that suffering basically useless because as much as I like slaf, reinbacher, and some of our other picks, it’s not enough just yet.
We can talk through the scenarios. First, if we’re leading the conference or division, then yeah you aim for the playoffs. These are pro athletes, they want to win. We want that mentality. But that won’t be the case. If we’re 6-10, where playoffs are in reach but not super likely, you trade the vets. Obviously we won’t trade everyone. Some will be injured. Some won’t have buyers. We want SOME vets to stay and help lead. And some are just more valuable to us than the picks would be. But we have several that could get assets. Savard, Dvorak, Anderson, Kovacevic, Matheson, Allen, Pearson, Monahan (gally and armia are untradeable without paying). They could all MAYBE fetch things. But let’s say ONLY Pearson and mony. At a MINIMUM, it should be 2 first round picks (mony ALONE may get that as a 2C at that salary, pts, face offs etc, but I want to be conservative).

Say we keep them. We could miss the playoffs, then we get a worse pick as we finish higher in the standings, lose both over the summer so we r less likely to make playoffs next year and onwards, AND we don’t get those 2 picks that could be used to draft or trade for elite talent. Talent that is good and young and DOES help get us to playoffs next year and for YEARS afterwards.
We could make the playoffs. All of the above ALSO still happens. And unless we win the cup, it’s essentially for nothing. Yes some ppl get experience, but most prospects aren’t in the nhl yet so it’s not a huge thing. It helps, but it’s not crazy. And we still have years in the future w/o the players those picks could yield.
Or we trade them, get those picks, package for elite talent, or to trade up to draft elite talent, or pick multiple 1st rd talents and hope they become elite talent… all while on ELCs. And that’s only 2 vets being traded.

The upside to trading the vets VASTLY outweighs the upside to keeping them. And the downside to keeping them VASTLY outweighs the downside to trading them. The goal for the rebuild is to build something that can contend year after year. Not just “get into playoffs and see what happens!” These are the habs. They should be contenders EVERY year. That’s what this Org is. It just requires a few rough years, and unwavering focus on the process required, in order to get there. Imagine having 4 total 1sts in the next two drafts PLUS our current prospects? We ABSOLUTELY land elite talent with all that. And really, we can have way more picks than that. Just have to make the right trades for the assets, then trade the assets for that talent. Even at an “overpay” as Hughes said, it’ll be worth it for 10-15 years of dominance.


I’m hoping we finally start using the abundance of quantity in our system and begin to convert it into a few elite quality pieces. It’ll be really difficult saying goodbye to some of the players, but hopefully the piece coming back will prove to be a real difference maker. I absolutely do not want to see trades where we send out 1 player and then get back a good pick, a B prospect, and late round picks. I’d much rather see us package a player, picks and a good prospect or two to bring back a player that fits the age group of the core (or slightly younger) who is an elite player. It’ll take a lot of guts from management to part with kids we like, but based on HuGo’s track record so far, I have some faith they’ll target the right players to bring back in the trade. I’d also be fine with packaging picks, prospects and/or players to move up to the top of the draft this year and next year too.


Yeah I think the best course of action is trade the vets that we can for whatever we can grab, and package it all to move up in the draft. The problem with trying to package things for a young elite player at the TDL is the players of value like Monahan will be going to contenders. Most contenders don’t have young elite prospects cuz they haven’t drafted high in a while. Or if they do, the teams are young enough that the young elite prospect fits into their long-term plans and/or current playoff runs. You’re absolutely right about packaging things, but I think the draft is the place. Not only does it give a chance to sign free agents instead of trading (even if it’s unlikely), after the season, new teams will decide it’s time to rebuild and be more likely to get rid of talent in the right age range (like Chicago did with Dach), but also a currently rebuilding team may want to add several assets to speed up the rebuild process. Enter our extra D prospects and picks (our fwd prospects aren’t nearly as good as our D, in both quality and quantity. We only have a couple top 6 potential fwds, but we have like 6-8 potential top 4 D with Guhle, Hutson, Reinbacher, Mailloux, Barron, Konyushkov, Engstrom, maybe Harris etc. and others who could surprise). Knowing Hughes, he’ll do something none of us thought of though lol.


I’d love to be able to trade off vets to get elite youth back, but being realistic, that ain’t gonna happen. We’re going to have to part with some of the kids in order to get the type of return I’m talking about. I’ll get lots of flack for suggesting it, but I’m thinking about a guy like Guhle. Love him, but with Matheson, Xhekaj, Harris, Hutson, etc, we have enough LD to part with a tremendous kid like Guhle and convert him into a tremendous forward prospect. We have D prospects coming out the wazoo, so sacrificing a stud like Guhle is a little easier to swallow, especially if it could bring us back a future offensive star.

John Spearing

I would need a ridiculous return to dangle Guhle….
As good as he’s been with us, I don’t see Matheson as a long term guy and I still see him being expendable as soon as Hutson arrives.
Harris is the young guy I would look to move even though I really like him too – but I see our future at LHD to be Hutson, Guhle, and Xhekaj… Harris feels like the odd man out for me – although Harris is really smart and he’s also tight with Hughes so I’m not so sure we dangle him either…
Engstrom is also coming and is probably too good for a 7th or 8th spot so he could also be moved in the future….
But I don’t like the idea of moving Guhle. I really like him as a core piece to our blueline. IF the return is right, not many are untouchable, but I don’t see teams lining up to overpay us for Guhle right now anyway nor would we be the ones shopping him.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Spearing

I love Guhle too, but he’s the type of player that could bring back the type of player I’m looking for up front. I’m not actively trying to get rid of him. Having him as a part of our long term plan is perfectly fine with me. But, if we’re trying to balance our team with elite offence and stud defence, then we have to sacrifice some of our crazy defensive depth.

John Spearing

tougher to pull off and not really a deadline move…. teams in the playoffs are not looking to trade away a young elite player unless it’s a bust and we’ve already taken on our share of projects…
In theory I do agree – I just don’t think it would be easy to do.


I forgot it was a trade deadline article. 😂 I was thinking more at the draft or the summer. However, if we’re sending an LD to a defensively lacking team, but offensively gifted one, the deadline could still be a possibility.


Maybe Hughes should trade Dvorak and Anderson to the Rangers for Alex Lafreniere… Then again maybe Lafreniere is never going to be an elite player and that trade would be overpaying…Who knows?


Lafreniere has 4 goals in 7 games with the Rangers so far this season. Why would the NYR be interested in Anderson and the injured Dvorak?

John Spearing

Laffy is finally having a solid start to a season and makes less than 2.5m…. Dvorak is still injured right now and the combined salary of Josh and Dvo have a cap hit of nearly 10 mill…. this idea isn’t even feasible.
Furthermore, I don’t really see Laffy as a good fit for Marty’s system…. Laffy has never been a great skater and that on top of his situation (struggling to secure a top 6 role on a quality roster) has been the biggest things holding him back…
Rangers have always preached patience and it seems to be paying off this year, cause despite all the rumours, New York has never shopped Laffy and we have never inquired.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Spearing

I’ve seen the Habs go from worst to first and first to worst over the last 20 years. Anything can happen. Let’s see where they’re at come Christmas. A rebuild is necessary, but a prolonged rebuild is discouraging for the fans. You can still rebuild and compete. I see them making the playoffs this year.


Funny enough I think the two contenders that could most use Monahan are probably Toronto and Boston. And likely neither could afford to resign him which might bode well for a reunion