Predicting the Habs Trade Deadline

March 1, 2023

We’re in the final days leading up to the NHL trade deadline, and business has been absolutely crazy.

The Montreal Canadiens are confirmed sellers, but the market may not be as friendly as hoped between injured players and lackluster performances from some of those guys available for trade. Kent Hughes has already been active and I expect he will continue to be until the bell rings on Friday, even if he’s not able to pull off the kind of blockbusters we’re seeing from the Rangers and Leafs. Here are my predictions for the fourth window of change under HuGo.

Hughes will move at least one more pending UFA.

If I had written this prediction last week, I would have predicted that Hughes would find a way to move two of three out of Evgenii Dadonov, Sean Monahan and Jonathan Drouin. Since then, he has claimed another pending UFA, Chris Tierney, off waivers and has already dealt Dadonov in a creative low risk move. My prediction is still that one more will move of the three that remain.

I’ve not given up on a deal for Monahan. It won’t be the haul we hoped for, but I find the approach to his health report bizarre enough to wonder if something is up. For me, a deal built around conditions might still work. Despite the warning from Commissioner Gary Bettman, perhaps even a return that is delayed until the post-season to help with the salary cap might still be possible.

Hughes will move at least one rental upgrade.

The two guys to watch in this category are Joel Edmundson and Mike Hoffman. It looks like Edmundson will get a game in before Friday and it’s possible the defensemen on the market will all be claimed before then. If Edmundson is dealt, I suspect it will be on Friday to a team that misses out and there may be conditions attached based on his health.

Despite rumours that there is no interest in Hoffman, looking at the guys that have been dealt I can still see him being a late option for some team. It may be a Dadonov kind of return and that would be just fine.

Hughes will move one bigger contract, and the player might be a bit of a surprise.

Insiders report that the Habs will keep Josh Anderson unless Kent Hughes gets an offer he can’t refuse. Looking at the packages that have been exchanged in recent days, none of us should be surprised if that offer comes. Last season, two players were moved on trade deadline day where the offer hit Hughes’ target. I’ve predicted an off-season deal if one is coming, but none of us should be shocked if Anderson is moved by Friday.

Jake Allen is the guy I’m watching in this category. Several teams are looking for support in net, and he is the consummate veteran 1B option who owns a Stanley Cup. His new contract doesn’t kick in until next season.

A wild card is Christian Dvorak. We don’t really know all that Hughes has in mind at centre. Will they re-sign Monahan if they can’t deal him? Do they hope to trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois in the off-season? Do they think a prospect is ready to make the jump? Any of those things could make Dvorak expendable should a team looking for a middle-six pivot make an offer.

David Savard is a long shot in this category. He’s a solid veteran option to keep around to support the kids, but that blue line is crowded. If Edmundson isn’t moved, perhaps Hughes is open to dealing Savard.

Hughes will use all three salary retention spots.

It’s been reported that Hughes has notified other teams that he is willing to act as a third-party broker. We expected to see it in the Patrick Kane deal, but that didn’t happen. Options are getting fewer to use that option. But with one retention used on Dadonov, and perhaps another UFA being dealt, Hughes might get more comfortable with retaining on one of Edmundson or Hoffman if it means fetching a decent return.

It won’t be a blockbuster deadline, but Hughes will take advantage of every opportunity to make this an impactful window of change for the Habs. There will be things to discuss by end of business on Friday.

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

3 thoughts on “Predicting the Habs Trade Deadline

  1. Too bad they are both injured but if we can somehow get something back for Monahan and/or Edmundson, that’ll be great for the rebuild. Great blog, great read!


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