The Montreal Canadiens got a significant amount of good news after the Vancouver Canucks plucked Elias Lindholm off the trade board.
By far the biggest fish, in terms of rentals, leading up to the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline, Elias Lindholm‘s move to Vancouver has changed the playing field.
The Canucks were aggressive in trying to secure their No.1 target early, trading Andrei Kuzmenko, prospects Hunter Brzustewicz, Joni Jurmo, a 2024 1st-round pick and a conditional 2024 4th-round pick.
That’s quite a haul for the 29-year-old pivot, who will slot in nicely into Vancouver’s top-six. During his post-trade press conference, Flames general manager Craig Conroy confirmed that there there were more than five teams that were very interested in Lindholm, all of whom he qualified as “serious trade candidates”.
With Lindholm off the board, all of these clubs must now pivot to look into other options, and that’s where the Montreal Canadiens come in.
Right Place, Right Time
With Lindholm off the NHL trade market, only two potential top-six/nine rental centers remain: Montreal’s Sean Monahan and Anaheim’s Adam Henrique.
With NHL betting odds pegging both the Anaheim Ducks and the Montreal Canadiens for a bottom-10 finish, it seems almost inevitable that both of these players will be moved; especially now.
With a handful of teams still looking for help down the middle, the Canadiens can now begin to drum up a market for Sean Monahan; who’s performed quite well for the Canadiens.
Yes, 16 of Monahan’s 35 points have come from the powerplay, but that’s to be expected; given that Montreal only has 83 even strength goals in 49 games (a quarter coming from their defencemen). That ranks as the fourth lowest output in the NHL at the moment.
Factor in that Monahan has been able to be this productive despite his most common linemates being Josh Anderson, Brendan Gallagher, Jake Evans and Tanner Pearson; and it’s easy to understand why he will be coveted at the NHL Trade Deadline.
However, Monahan brings much more than just points to the table. On top of pacing toward a 60-point campaign, Monahan is also one of the best faceoff specialists in the league; sporting a 55% ratio and consistently being deployed in crucial situations.
Logging an average of 18:27 per game, Monahan is used in every facet of the game for the Canadiens; be it on the power play, penalty kill, even strength and even in overtime. In short, he’s a Swiss Army Knife.
That’s the kind of versatility that usually nets a notable return at the NHL Trade Deadline. You can look back to other comparable centers like Andrew Copp, Kevin Hayes and Paul Stastny to see that those kind of players are rarely available at this time of year.
And, whenever top-six centers are available, they tend to go quickly and for big prices, as seen last January with Bo Horvat and now with Elias Lindholm. With Henrique and Monahan, teams still have a chance to fill their need at center, but the temperature just went up a notch.
What does the Market Look Like?
Let’s run down the potential suitors:
The Colorado Avalanche are in major need of an upgrade at centre, with Nathan MacKinnon doing all of the heavy lifting, as Ross Colton and Ryan Johansen haven’t been able to lock down the second-line centre role for the Avalanche. With depth on the wing and at defence, upgrading down the middle seems like the missing piece they need to make a run; especially with how MacKinnon has been playing of late.
The Winnipeg Jets also find themselves in a similar situation. Even before Mark Schiefele’s injury, they were extremely thin at centre. For them to come out of the Central Division this year, an improvement in that department is necessary, as Mark Scheifele, Vladislav Namestnikov and Adam Lowry are simply not enough to sustain a long-term playoff run.
The New Jersey Devils have also been looking into improving their centre depth, as Justin Dowling and Curtis Lazar are currently occupying top-nine centre roles at the moment in Jack Hughes’ absence.
The New York Rangers are also in a bind, having just lost Filip Chytil for the year and looking to keep pace in an uber-competitive Eastern Conference.
Will He Get a 1st-Round Pick?
Given that Lindholm returned a roster player (albeit a bit of a cap dump), a 1st-round pick, a conditional 4th-round pick, a promising prospect in Brzustewicz and Jurmo; it would lead to reason that the price range has been set.
Now, Monahan is not in the same conversation as Horvat or Lindholm per se, but it can be argued that his value shouldn’t be far off from what Lindholm netted from the Vancouver Canucks.
Monahan has been more productive this season, thanks in part to his prowess on the powerplay, but Lindholm is seen as a more reliable asset that can quickly return to his point-per-game ways in a contending club.
Monahan will likely slot in as a 3rd-line centre or a top-six winger, that can move up your lineup in a pinch in the case of injury; something he’s done exceedingly well in Montreal for the past two seasons.
The benefit that Monahan has, however, is his contract. His $1.975M contract makes him an easy fit for almost any team in the NHL, while Henrique’s $5.8M contract will like require the Anaheim Ducks to retain on his deal to fit in most contender’s salary structure.
With teams like the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Winnipeg Jets already known to be looking for help down the middle, the pickings just got slimmer and a bidding war will likely ensue to ensure they don’t miss the boat, like they did with Lindholm.
Even if we were all to agree that Lindholm’s value was a good level above Monahan’s, it would be hard to argue now that Monahan wouldn’t be worth at least a first-round pick; even if you didn’t have red, blue and white pajamas.
*For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel