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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Youngsters That Could Be Leveraged On Trade Market



Montreal Canadiens hughes

The Montreal Canadiens have a ton of quantity in their prospect pool, but not a lot of quality at the moment; which could prompt them to sacrifice some youngsters to improve the club long-term.

As general manager Kent Hughes mentioned during his mid-season interview with RDS, the club is still looking to stockpile assets before they begin pulling the trigger on bigger deals to advance their rebuild.

With the Canadiens pegged to finish in the bottom-10 again this year per NHL betting odds and currently eight points out of a playoff spot, it’s clear the club will be sellers at the NHL Trade Deadline.

The expectation is now that the likes of Sean Monahan, Tanner Pearson, Jake Allen and more will ultimately be dealt to maximize their asset value and help the Canadiens further stockpile assets in their quest to improve their roster,

Although it would be unlikely to see the Canadiens shop some of their draft capital leading up to March 8th, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them potentially leverage the depth of their prospect pool to sweeten the pot on certain deals, or engage in a prospect swap to cover a position of need.

We can already assume that players like Lane Hutson, David Reinbacher, Owen Beck and Filip Mesar are currently off the table (short of a blockbuster deal for a top-end forward), but the Canadiens still have a few noteworthy youngsters they could be leveraged on the trade market for the right deal.

Jesse Ylönen

It’s been an up-and-down journey for Jesse Ylönen over the last three years. Initially drafted 35th overall in 2018, the slippery forward has had a tough time establishing himself in the NHL; especially considering how veterans like Brendan Gallagher, Josh Anderson and even Joël Armia continue to occupy precious ice-time in the Canadiens lineup.

Nonetheless, it looked like the 2022-2023 season was going to be his breakout year, as Ylönen’s ice time shot up thanks to the Montreal Canadiens’ injury-plagued lineup. Having potted six goals and 10 assists for 16 points in just 37 games with limited offensive opportunities, many believed Ylönen to be an NHL-caliber player capable of contributing to a rebuilding team.

For whatever reason, he hasn’t been given his fair shake so far this season, despite showing glimpses of excellence in offensive roles. Having been mostly relegated to 4th-line duty; Ylönen likely isn’t being used to his full potential and, having been a selection from a previous administration, could be flipped to a rival team for a similar type of prospect at other positions of need such as center or right defence.

Ylönen certainly has value across the league, or else the Canadiens wouldn’t have had an issue placing him on waivers earlier this season; but, the fear that a rival team would pluck him off the waiver wire forced the Canadiens to keep him on the roster even when scratched for a handful of games in a row.

With Emil Heineman, Joshua Roy and other potential summer acquisitions pushing Ylönen further down the pecking order; it wouldn’t be outlandish to see the Canadiens attempt to move him in the slightest.

 Sean Farrell

Similarly to Ylönen, Sean Farrell has his work cut out for him  as he attempts to crack the Montreal Canadiens roster in the coming years.

The Montreal Canadiens already have a glut of middle-six wingers coming up through the ranks and playing a player of Farrell’s skill on the fourth line is simply not an option.

Understanding that the top winger spots will be occupied by Juraj Slafkovsky, Cole Caufield, Alex Newhook, eventually Joshua Roy and any potential scoring additions that Hughes has indicated he’d like to make in the summer; the window of opportunity is quite small for Farrell.

Despite playing some smart hockey with the Laval Rocket, where he put up six goals and 11 assists for 17 points in 24 games, the 22-year-old has an immense amount of competition ahead of him. The other unfortunate knock against him is out of his control: his size.

As the Canadiens continue to look for ways to get bigger, faster and stronger, there won’t be much room for someone like Farrell in the lineup. The club will realistically have to make a choice between prospects like Emil Heineman and Farrell to determine who could eventually complete the Canadiens’ bottom-six for the future, and, at least at the moment, it appears that Heineman has the inside track.

This isn’t to say Farrell isn’t a valuable prospect for the Canadiens; far from it. However, if a larger deal materialized and the Canadiens needed to dangle a prospect to get the deal done, he would be a prime candidate to catch the eye of a rival general manager.

Jordan Harris

Jordan Harris has been a calm and steady presence for the Montreal Canadiens on the backend, but hasn’t shown signs of tangible improvement since last season.

Part of that can be chalked up to his injuries this season, but, even at even strength, his offensive production is lagging compared to last season.

The biggest benefit the 23-year-old brings is his ability to seamlessly play both on the left and right side of the defence; already possessing excellent chemistry with Jayden Struble.

The two formed a formidable pairing together, but, ultimately, the Canadiens will have Justin Barron, Logan Mailloux and David Reinbacher knocking on the door for those bottom-pair minutes on the right-side.

With Mike Matheson getting the top minutes on the left-hand side, followed by Kaiden Guhle, Jayden Struble and Arber Xhekaj also fighting it out, it wouldn’t be outlandish to see the club sacrifice a player like Harris to secure a bigger deal at the trade deadline for an age-appropriate forward with upside.

However, he is not the only defenceman that could be dangled if a major deal were to materialize.

For Blockbuster: Arber Xhekaj

Don’t shoot!

If the Canadiens were looking to make a blockbuster trade, Arber Xhekaj would be the top, most realistic option that any GM would be calling on. Does it mean he should be shopped? Absolutely not.

But, given the depth on the left side, how well the progression of Jayden Struble has gone and the imminent arrival of Lane Hutson; how can you not at least see what the market is willing to pay?

As of this moment, Kaiden Guhle is locked into a top-4 spot on the left side, meaning that Xhekaj, Harris and Struble are currently fighting for the final two spots for the future. Hutson and Adam Engstrom are also in the pipeline and possibly turning pro within the next few months. It’s a worthwhile discussion to be had.

As an example, it would have been very difficult to convince Canadiens fans that Alexander Romanov, who was just starting to establish himself in the NHL, was worth a 13th overall pick at the end of the 2021-2022 NHL season.

One need simply ask: If Romanov was worth a 13th overall pick, what is Xhekaj worth, given his style of play and untapped offensive ability? The short answer is: the same, if not more.

It could allow the Canadiens to go out and add that impact forward or acquire an NHL-ready forward prospect that could make a positive impact on the Canadiens rebuild.

It may not be a popular idea, but, given the right deal the Montreal Canadiens could be tempted. Ideally, it’s Mike Matheson that is moved to make room for these youngsters, but, sometimes, deals come up that you simply cannot pass up.


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