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Canadiens Trade Talk

Impact Of Sean Monahan Trade On Canadiens Lineup And Rebuild

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Montreal Canadiens forward Sean Monahan and Cole Caufield

Now that the Montreal Canadiens have traded forward Sean Monahan to the Winnipeg Jets, we need to take a look at how the deal will impact the organization in the short and long term.

In a vacuum, the trade was great from a Habs point-of-view, as it secured yet another first-round pick in a move involving Monahan, a feat that few, if any, general managers have accomplished in the long history of the NHL.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: Canadiens Get Great Value From Mohanan Trades

Centre Issue

The Canadiens lost an important centre in the trade, which will impact their ability to ice a strong lineup from now to the end of the season.

However, we have to remind ourselves that Alex Newhook is approaching a return to play, and even though his first audition as a centre with the Canadiens did not turn out well for anyone involved, he can still absorb a significant portion of the ice time left on the table with Monahan’s departure.

The Canadiens are likely to recall Mitchell Stephens from the Laval Rocket to serve as the team’s fourth-line centre, while Jake Evans anchors the third line. Lias Andersson and Philippe Maillet are additional options if the Canadiens aren’t interested in giving Stephens another audition. The Laval Rocket’s leading scorer, Brandon Gignac, cannot join the NHL roster as he does not own an NHL contract. But with Monahan’s departure, the Canadiens have opened up an important contract spot, which could lead to a signing in the near future.

There’s also the possibility of acquiring a rental centre in exchange for a low-quality asset, as well as the potential for a waiver claim, which is how they acquired Chris Tierney last season.

The centre situation is not ideal, but it’s far from dire, and the Canadiens should be able to avoid adding more to captain Nick Suzuki’s overflowing plate. The biggest concern is how the youngest player in the lineup, Juraj Slafkovsky, will play without Monahan.

Montreal Canadiens Trade Capital

The Habs now own four different first-round picks in the next two NHL Entry Drafts, which gives Kent Hughes plenty of options when it comes to acquiring young, talented players.

As history has shown us, Hughes prefers putting his hands on a player who is closer to the age range of his core rather than a prospect who is still several years away from their NHL debut, let alone their prime years.

Considering the Habs desperately need to add more offence to the organization, it would be surprising if Hughes does not move one or more of those first-round picks in exchange for a player who can play an important role in the rebuild, as he did when he acquired Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks and Alex Newhook from the Colorado Avalanche.

If no such deal can be made, there should still be a healthy amount of talented forwards available at the 2024 Draft. If one of those players drops, it opens the door for a first-round trade.

NHL Draft

In addition to losing an important centre in the lineup, the Canadiens also have one of the most difficult strengths of schedule in the NHL. This means their odds of winning will be doubly diminished, a perfect situation to secure an early first-round pick.

Samuel Montembeault has the potential to throw a stick in the wheels of ‘Team Tank’, but all signs point to the Canadiens having a very difficult time winning games once the All-Star break is over.

The Montreal Canadiens have overachieved this season, and still rank among the worst teams in the NHL for regulation wins and expected goals. A string of losses wouldn’t just be good for the team’s draft odds, it would also remind everyone that at this stage of the rebuild, the Habs are far from being ready to compete with the NHL’s elite, thus throwing some cold water on the mounting flames of impatience.

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Dale Morton

Sad to have Monahan leave the Habs, but it’s really great to see the return that the trade garnered. As well, it is a wonderful opportunity for such a classy guy to improve his chances of going deep into the playoffs with the Jets. It seems that he really enjoyed his time in Montreal, and who knows … he “could” re-sign with the Habs in the offseason. It seems unlikely, however, that Winnipeg paid the price they did in acquiring Monahan if they did not think they had a better than average chance of signing him to a contract extension.

peter

I think it will be awhile before we see Newhook, a high ankle sprain is a horrible injury and it take can much longer that the stated time for a 100% recovery. He only started skating on his own in the last week for an injury that occurred in November.

Prophet

On a different note, can you please revisit the analysis of the Calgary 1st round pick we obtained in light of them looking like they will trade quite a few important pieces and tank? Thanks

Albert Vanular

Typical recovery time for High ankle sprain is approx 8 weeks. We have already passed the 8 week mark since his injury occurred. Newhook should be ready very soon.

habs4ever

Thanks Marc. If the Jets dont make it out of their division in the playoffs, does this improve the 1st round draft spot for the Canadiens?

Alex Barrette

It depends of their regular season ranking. So basically you want Winnipeg to lose on a regular basis and be eliminated quick.