The Montreal Canadiens have some big decisions ahead of the March 8th NHL Trade Deadline looming.
It’s no secret that the Canadiens are headed toward being sellers by the trade deadline in six weeks, as NHL betting odds have them set for another bottom-10 finish this season.
The club has a few pending free agents on their roster, but, a thin rental market this season may prompt teams across the league to get a little creative in their trade targets; and that could impact Montreal.
It seems inevitable that the likes of Sean Monahan, Jake Allen and Tanner Pearson should be on the way out by the trade deadline; with Monahan looking more and more like one of the bigger prizes in this year’s rental market.
But with the market so thin, players like David Savard, Mike Matheson and even Joel Armia could be dangled for a premium to the right buyer.
David Savard is perhaps the most intriguing name that the Montreal Canadiens could dangle, outside of their pending free agents, this trade deadline. The 33-year-old is playing some of the best hockey of his career at the moment, putting up four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 24 games; all while playing over 20 minutes a night on a young team.
His team-friendly $3.5M contract still has another year to go before it expires in the summer of 2025, and his Cup-winning experience with the Tampa Bay Lightning should make him an interesting commodity if general manager Kent Hughes should make him available.
But then one simply need look at the rental market this year to notice that only two right-shot defencemen, Chris Tanev and Sean Walker, are among the crop of available players for nearly 10 contending teams; most of whom want to bolster their defence.
With right-shooting defencemen being one of the most difficult positions to fill in hockey; it may be a worthwhile venture for the Canadiens to look into; especially if a team offers a similar deal to what the Columbus Blue Jackets received for Savard back in 2021.
The Montreal Canadiens have been trying Kaiden Guhle and Jordan Harris on the right side over the last month, and, should they show signs of growth while playing their off sides, it could make the decision even easier; while they wait for Logan Mailloux and David Reinbacher to hit full maturity.
With the abundance of left-shooting defencemen on the Canadiens’ roster, they could also pivot and see if there’s strong interest in an offensive defenceman like Mike Matheson.
Currently signed through the 2025-2026 season at a very reasonable $4.875M, the Montreal native has been the team’s defacto No. 1 defenceman since his arrival last season.
Although he may not be perfect defensively, he’s emerged as one of the top offensive defencemen in the Eastern Conference; posting 15 goals and 51 assists for 66 points in just 94 games since being traded to the Canadiens.
That being said, Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj and Jayden Struble are all pushing for bigger roles with the Montreal Canadiens, and the likes of Lane Hutson and Adam Engstrom are not too far from making the jump to the NHL.
It’s a worthwhile conversation to be had with rival teams, but, as of this writing, the idea would be to weigh the market in the summer; rather than force a trade in March.
If this article were written two months ago, every reader would have simply burst out laughing; and some might still be right now!
But, Joel Armia has been playing some of his best hockey of late; already totaling more goals (8) in his 30 games with the Canadiens than in may of the past three prior seasons.
It’s clear that Armia can help a contending team, but his $3.4M contract, which only expires in the summer of 2025, is the major impediment to making a move.
Luckily for the Montreal Canadiens, they have a significant amount of unused LTIR space; meaning they could easily take on short-term salary to facilitate a trade and open up some salary and a roster spot next season for a youngster like Joshua Roy to make the jump full-time.
Having found great chemistry alongside Roy and Monahan; it wouldn’t be surprising to see some general managers across the league look into his acquisition. Big and rugged forwards with good playoff experience are always a desireable commodity at the NHL Trade Deadline, but this would be an addition by subtraction, and not a move that would bring back much asset value to the Canadiens.
*For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel