February 8, 2023
The NHL trade deadline is now just three weeks and change away and the market continues to be a little constipated, but there are signs that any minute it will be all systems go.
The Montreal Canadiens hope to be players at the deadline, but injuries and a poor showing from some trade chips have raised concerns that the deadline may not be as impactful in transforming the Habs as we anticipated when the season began. Last week I considered some potential landing spots for the unrestricted free agents on the roster, and here I will look at a second group of players that could be on the move.
Some GMs are not willing to pay big for a short-term rental, but they’re also not in a position to deal for a big contract mid-season. For these GMs, players under team control or in a team-friendly contract beyond the current year are very appealing. The Habs have some offerings in this group.
Mike Hoffman, along with several other forwards, has been available all season without takers. With nine goals and nine assists in 37 games, his $4.5M cap hit for this season and next is a challenge. One consideration here is that if the Habs are unable to move all three unrestricted free agents, which seems likely, they may feel inclined to retain on one of those players a year away from free agency. At $3.375M (or less), Hoffman’s ability to help a power play and add depth scoring becomes more appealing.
This one is random, and I suspect any deal for Mike Hoffman will be a little random. The Islanders have the cap space, and some pending unrestricted free agents. They’ve just added Bo Horvat, so on some level they’re going for it this season. Hoffman is under contract for another year and can help the second wave of their power play. In this deal, the Habs offload the contract and bring back some depth for Laval.
Any deal for Hoffman will likely fetch a return of a mid-round pick or a prospect you don’t recognize.
Absolutely everyone is talking about Edmundson to Edmonton, and I think that’s a really logical fit, but I’ll spare you another trade proposal that you’ve surely read somewhere else before.
The Capitals need an upgrade on their left-side defense since they seem committed to the Ovechkin window. Edmundson helps them this year and next, and the Habs help them on the cap by taking Eller so they can spend their money elsewhere. Eller has seen a few healthy scratches this year. That buys the Habs a first round pick.
The Winnipeg Jets are coached by the defenseman whisperer, and they are a team that should be taking advantage of their lightning-in-a-bottle season. Edmundson is the perfect fit for them, and perhaps giving up the first rounder is less painful if they think the Habs will trade it back to them in the summer in the package for Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Jokes aside, the Habs could accommodate a salary dump on an expiring deal if necessary to claim the first. That’s true in any deal for Edmundson.
Is Jake perfect for Julien?
Every year Julien BriseBois says he doesn’t intend to do much at the trade deadline, and then he adds a significant piece to his roster puzzle. In a recent interview he stated that if he makes a deal it will be a “Nick Paul kind of deal.” Paul was a pending UFA on an economical contract that was acquired for a 4th round pick and a prospect that had been selected in the 4th round. A big, physical centreman, Paul was effective on the penalty kill and face-offs, and could provide some depth scoring. He had a strong showing in Tampa, and earned a new contract from BriseBois.
Might Jake Evans be this year’s Nick Paul? Similar in age to Paul, Evans is defensively responsible, strong on the PK and in the dot, and can bring some depth scoring. He’s also on a reasonable contract for two years beyond this one, and can replace some of those aging veterans who are free agents this summer.
The Habs land a right-handed defence prospect, an area where they are lacking depth, and open a roster spot for one of the young forwards clamouring for a spot next season. The conditional second round pick in 2024 could become a first round pick in 2025 based on Evans’ performance and usage, combined with Tampa’s success.
How about a Phil Danault special?
At the 2016 deadline, Marc Bergevin pulled off one of the strongest trades of his tenure when he dealt pending UFAs Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann to the Chicago Blackhawks for centre prospect Philip Danault and a second round pick (Alexander Romanov). Chicago was looking for forward depth – secondary scoring and an energy player – and paid dearly to acquire them.
So I lied. This is an Edmundson to Edmonton proposal. But it has the added benefit of a depth centre on contract beyond this year. In return the Habs get a coveted first round pick, a salary dump worth a look in a change of scenery in Puljujarvi, and a late-picked prospect with upside in Petrov. Let’s be honest. It’s been too long since a Petrov has donned a Canadiens jersey.
Chris Wideman and Rem Pitlick are two other guys on team-friendly contracts that might be appealing in this kind of deal. Both players are useful and economical for Montreal, so there is no rush to move them. But if an extra part is required to get a deal done, these guys may fit the bill.
Heck, if Marc Bergevin has this much influence in the City of Angels, maybe he can have a word about Brendan Gallagher or Joel Armia. In this deal, the Kings get help on the left side defense and move out some of their surplus on the right side. It’s an economical deal for L.A., and one that’s worth a first round pick. They also get Rem Pitlick for depth scoring. In return, Montreal is happy to have the first, but will also make use of a veteran right shot defender while the kids develop and flip him when the time is right.
It feels like the trade market could break open at any moment. There’s no reason Kent Hughes and the Habs can’t do the cracking.
One thought on “Potential Destinations for the Habs Rental Upgrades”
Lol, Oleg Petrov…. he of the ilk of Russ Courtnall trend… if only they could have scored more. I guess going from smurfs to Josh Anderson is an improvement lol