Eggs Bennett 22-20
August 12, 2022
The Montreal Canadiens have a cap issue. As Kent Hughes once stated so poignantly, last season they were at the bottom of the league while being at the top of the Capfriendly website. That was the story, thanks to the hefty contracts Marc Bergevin left behind while doing nothing to mitigate the inevitable decline of Shea Weber and Carey Price.
It’s undeniable. The Habs have a cap issue.
This is not an unsolvable problem. It won’t be fixed overnight, but it also doesn’t need to be. Some players may have to be moved for little return, and others may eventually hurt a fair amount on their way out the door. Piece by piece, over the next two years, Kent Hughes will pull the Habs out of cap hell.
What might some realistic solutions look like?
In fact, the Habs have already moved out significant contracts this off-season. First, they were able to move Shea Weber for a player with considerably less term and dollars attached. Then they dealt Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling to Pittsburgh for a pick and a player with the same term but less dollars and… oh, here is the kicker… who filled a need on the team.
What if the Habs could pull off another Jeff Petry deal? Or two? Or more?
Kent Hughes does not need to find all his cap space in one move. He can find the space he needs through another, or several, Petry-type deals. In a Petry-type deal, the Habs move out a contract they can live without, for a player who meets a need for the Habs, while also having a smaller hit or lesser term, and the resulting cap space provides flexibility to meet other needs for the present and future.
Who might be available for such a deal?
In a recent appearance on The Cam & Strick Podcast, Jeff Gorton confirmed there are still several things the Habs would like to do. He specifically mentioned having too many forwards, while having some forward prospects needing a look in. Mike Hoffman and Joel Armia are players the Habs can live without. Jonathan Drouin, Evgeni Dadanov, Jake Allen and Paul Byron are entering the last year of their deals and are likely available for the right offer at the right time. Hughes is in no rush to move Christian Dvorak or Josh Anderson, but both may be available if the return makes sense for the Montreal Canadiens.
What needs would the Habs be looking to meet in the return?
Following the Petry deal, Kent Hughes said he would still like to add a right-shot defenceman, either by trade or through the waiver process when NHL training camps are underway, and teams begin to refine their rosters.
The Habs also need to find cap space to sign Kirby Dach and Cayden Primeau. It has been proposed that placing Byron on LTIR for the year would create enough space for both, but that assumes Byron’s career is over and I’m not sure we have heard that is the case at all.
It’s not an immediate need, but the Habs need a starting goaltender for the future. Hughes said at the end of the season that the Montreal Canadiens do not have a starter beyond Carey Price. Primeau’s performance in the AHL playoffs may have adjusted that view, but no doubt the Habs are at least exploring options for the future.
Here are some trade proposals that fit loosely in the Petry model. In each I try to fill a need for the trade partner, while also moving out redundant pieces for the Habs to meet their needs moving forward and finding a little cap space while we’re at it.
Jake Allen to the Calgary Flames for Dustin Wolf.
The Habs don’t need to trade Jake Allen. Logically, they will move him for the best return they can get before the trade deadline, but there is no rush. The team that wants Allen immediately should come prepared to pay.
That team should be the Calgary Flames. Their off-season work confirms they are all-in on this window, and we should expect some deals moving forward to confirm that direction. One piece of work should be finding a solid back-up for Jacob Markstrom, who played a whopping 63 games last season before adding 12 playoff games. Adding Jake Allen is fantastic insurance but would also allow the Flames to enter the post-season with a much fresher Markstrom. Allen’s Stanley Cup pedigree doesn’t hurt.
Through this deal, the Flames are set in net and the Habs have a goalie for the future. If a pick, or a pick swap is necessary to even this one out, that’s just fine. The deal results in a $2.875M cap savings for as long as Wolf continues to develop in the minors. Montembeault would remain at the NHL level to back-up Price, reducing the net cap savings to $1.875M. Perhaps Primeau eventually becomes trade bait.
Mike Hoffman to the Carolina Hurricanes for Ethan Bear
Is there anything more obvious that the swapping of two players whose names have been in trade rumours for months?
Approaching restricted free agency, the Canes were expected to deal Bear, and when that didn’t happen some wondered if he would even be qualified. The right-handed rearguard signed a one-year contract on July 28th, and he will still be an RFA at the end of the deal. Bear will be a third-pair option in Carolina, at best, and seems to have fallen out of favour there. Bear has 190 NHL games under his belt and could be useful in Montreal. At worst, he could become trade bait at the deadline if he is not finding new life under Martin St. Louis.
In the meanwhile, the Hurricanes just learned newly acquired Max Pacioretty will be sidelined for much of the season. His injury and recovery time are perfectly timed to be their playoff addition, but in the interim they could use a goal scorer and power play specialist like Hoffman and have the cap space to bring him on.
In this deal, the Habs gain $2.3M in cap space, which is just about perfect to sign Dach.
Joel Armia and a 2nd to the Edmonton Oilers for Jesse Puljujarvi
The Edmonton Oilers have reportedly grown tired of their 4th overall pick from the 2016 draft, and Puljujarvi has never really settled in out west. In this deal, the Oilers get the pick they’re reported to be asking for, as well as a replacement winger who strengthens their bottom six sans drama. Armia is a better fit for a playoff team than a rebuilding team. He was a beast in the 2020-21 playoff season beside Eric Staal and Corey Perry.
The Habs gain just $400K in salary cap for this season, and Puljujarvi will certainly cost more for the long run. But the winger is five years younger and the Habs would be betting Martin St. Louis would help him get closer to the player he was projected to be.
While another winger wasn’t really on the list for the Habs, adding a big and strong forward with top six upside is never a bad idea, and may make it easier to release Josh Anderson in another deal.
Christian Dvorak, Josh Anderson, Cayden Primeau and Logan Mailloux to the Winnipeg Jets for Pierre-Luc Dubois and Elias Salomonsson
I’m hard-pressed to call this deal a Petry-type trade – cap space is obviously not the priority in a blockbuster. The Montreal Canadiens would absolutely love to bring Dubois home, and the Winnipeg Jets absolutely must get a solid return for a player who does not intend to stay long term and has been gracious enough to give them a heads up on that.
Winnipeg may be asking for the sun (Suzuki), moon (Caufield) and stars (Guhle), but neither of those guys are leaving Montreal for a player they can approach in free agency in two years. In the deal, the Habs get the centre they want and a right shot defence prospect, while the Jets get a centre and winger for their second line who are under contract for years, as well as two young players under team control for years. That’s not something Kevin Cheveldayoff should be sneezing at with the turnover he’s had during his tenure.
The subplot of this story is the Habs find $3.950M in cap space.
What do the new Habs look like?
Obviously, these deals are in the fantasy realm, and one of them happening as proposed is unlikely, never mind four. I have tried to propose realistic deals that work for both sides, while also whittling away at the Habs cap problem. My combined package finds more than $8M in cap space, while moving out some redundant pieces and adding back players that fill needs for the Montreal Canadiens.
It’s highly unlikely that Kent Hughes will make the deals I would, but realistically Habs fans should look for another Petry-type deal or more before the summer is done as Hughes looks for a little cap flexibility and to shift the roster to fit his vision.
6 thoughts on “Should the Habs try to pull off another Petry-type deal?”
Great stuff Lori… Right up until you jumped on the PLD bandwagon. Habs must take a HARD Hard pass on that. He reads his own reviews and we’ve already had to suffer what seems like a lifetime worth of favourite son JD not living up to his own hype. Let’s not repeat the mistake.
How be we include Drouin in the deal instead of Anderson. Same $$ value and Drouin is in lastbyr of contract and could be resigned at a lower cap amount.
Certainly if the Jets preferred Drouin over Anderson there would be no issue on the Habs end in making that happen. But one of the plusses of the package I proposed is having a player who is already signed for several years. No guarantees Drouin signs in Winnpeg. I’m not sure why he would when he can test free agency for the first time.
I’m not sure it’s fair to compare PLD to Drouin. PLD has performed and proven himself in both Columbus and Winnipeg. I get the arguments for and against acquiring him, but I’d leave Drouin out of that discussion. They’re not the same player.
Bear and Puljujarvi were on my wish list at the beginning of the off season! It would be nice if they get them!
Bear and Puljujarvi were on my wish list at the beginning of the off season. It would be nice if they got them both!
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