Hockey Insider Elliotte Friedman brought up an interesting trade scenario involving Montreal Canadiens veteran Sean Monahan.
Monahan, 30, signed a one-year extension with the Canadiens, with many expecting the centre to be moved by the March 8 NHL Trade Deadline.
During the segment, Ron Maclean asked Friedman whether a team would be willing to move a first-round pick to acquire Monahan, with the caveat that the team would not necessarily use him in the top six.
“Monahan has tremendous respect around the league for how much he’s come back from,” explained Friedman. “Not only is he playing, but he’s thriving, and he’s approaching 35 points this year. I think that’s one of the questions teams are asking right now. “How high in the lineup for a contender do you need Monahan to play?” One of the teams people are looking at is the New York Rangers. They were looking for a centre, and now they may have to look for two. Filip Chytil was re-injured yesterday, and it doesn’t sound great. So I do think a number of teams are wondering if Monahan is very much on the Rangers radar.”
Chytil’s situation is indeed dire. He suffered an unfortunate setback in his recovery from a concussion and is expected to miss the remainder of the season, leaving the Rangers with very little centre depth.
A deal between the Canadiens and the Rangers makes sense, however, there’s more than just asset value at play in this particular case. Jeff Gorton and Chris Drury are at odds with each other following the 2021 decision to fire Gorton and replace him with the former Ranger.
You may think it’s silly, and you’d be right, but situations like these arise a little more often than most would assume.
“The big challenge is that there’s not a lot of love lost between the two front offices, the Canadiens and the Rangers,” said Friedman. “Would it be a complicated deal to do, between them?”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the potential returns if the teams managed to put their issues of yesteryear behind them and come to an agreement on a trade that would help both organizations.
The Rangers own their first-round pick in 2024, which is currently slated to be somewhere in the 23-25th overall range. A late first-round pick can bring value to a franchise, but we have to remind ourselves the odds of drafting an impact player in the first round drop quickly and dramatically. If the Rangers win their division, their first-round pick could drop even lower.
Roughly 75 percent of the picks made in the first round will end up playing in the NHL, but once you reach the 15th overall pick the odds are closer to 40-50 percent, if not worse.
It’s a healthy reminder that picks in the second half of the first round are far from guaranteed to make it to the NHL.
On that note, if the Rangers aren’t willing to move their first-round pick, the Canadiens should avoid taking an offer where the value is gained by the sum of the trade assets. In other words, a package of second or third-round picks would not move the rebuild needle much.
The Canadiens prefer acquiring young, semi-established players or prospects rather than draft picks.
In the Rangers’ case, the first name that stands out as a player that would garner Kent Hughes’ interest is Brenann Othmann. The 20-year-old played with Canadiens prospect Owen Beck last season and is currently putting together an incredibly interesting rookie season in the AHL.
Othmann is 8th in AHL rookie scoring, with 10 goals and 19 assists in 35 games. It’s one less point than the top Canadiens forward prospect, Joshua Roy, has earned this year. He’s a hard worker with a high-end skill set.
The Canadiens would be quite happy to acquire a prospect with Othmann’s skill set, but the question becomes whether the Rangers would be willing to move one of their few prized prospects.
Given the history between Gorton and Drury, it does not seem like a likely outcome, but it’s a possibility.
As for someone like Gabe Perreault, who is enjoying a very good year with Boston College, he’s likely to be deemed off-limits by the Rangers development team.
Beyond those two, there’s very little in terms of interesting options in the Rangers organization. Players like Bryce McConnell-Barker, Lauri Pajuniemi, Maxim Barbashev, and Dylan Roobroeck simply do not possess the type of potential that would entice the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal Canadiens Brass Tacks
The Rangers are hoping to make a healthy run at the Stanley Cup this spring, which indicates they won’t want to remove much talent from their NHL roster.
That leaves the Canadiens and the Rangers in an awkward situation for any potential deal involving Monahan.
Beyond the bad blood between Drury and Gorton, the only assets worth acquiring are the exact assets the Rangers will want to hold onto. Of course, there’s always the possibility they’d be willing one of the talented prospects or their first-round pick, but from the outside, it seems like there’s not much common ground between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers.