The Montreal Canadiens made waves on Friday morning by trading veteran Sean Monahan to the Winnipeg Jets.
According to Elliotte Friedman, the return will be a first-round pick (WPG-2024) as well as a conditional third-round pick (WPG-2027).
When the Canadiens originally acquired Monahan from the Calgary Flames they also secured a first-round pick because Monahan was considered a salary cap dump by the team that drafted him.
Canadiens Trade Talk: Impact Of Sean Monahan On The Lineup And Rebuild
Now that he has had an opportunity to find his rhythm, the Canadiens have turned that cap dump into yet another first-round pick, which has to be considered masterful work by general manager Kent Hughes.
Montreal did not retain any salary in the deal, making it an even sweeter return.
Sean Monahan going from Montreal to Winnipeg for a first round pick and a conditional pick
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 2, 2024
The Montreal Canadiens can thank the Vancouver Canucks, who acquired centre Elias Lindholm from the Calgary Flames earlier this week. The Flames received a pair of decent prospects, but more importantly, they also secured a first-round pick.
That set the market rather high, and considering Monahan was one of the few centres available, his value immediately skyrocketed.
And with the help of another Canadian team, the Jets, Hughes has managed to extract two high-quality assets from a player who held little to no value just a few seasons ago.
The draft picks will be late in the first round, which mitigates their value, but first-round picks are still among the most coveted assets in the NHL.
The trade doesn’t necessarily put an end to the Monahan saga, either. Given that he’s an unrestricted agent this summer, the Habs will have a chance to entice the centre to re-sign with the team that gave his career a much-needed boost.
Of course, the Jets may also be interested in signing Monahan to an extension, which explains why the deal was made earlier than expected. It gives Winnipeg a longer run with Monahan in the lineup, and it also gives them an opportunity to show him that playing in Winnipeg is the right move for his career.
But any way you cut it, this was a masterclass by Hughes.
He did not strengthen any of his rival teams, he did not retain any salary, which means there’s still a precious salary retention spot available, and of course, he added a key asset to a team that needs to find elite talent. For the most part, those elite forwards are found in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.