The Montreal Canadiens 2021-22 season is barely 20 video games outdated, and until they pull off a miracle, their 5-13-2 file means they may miss the playoffs. Due to this, normal supervisor Marc Bergevin, who’s within the final yr of his contract, should now prioritize promoting off his belongings to build up as many picks and prospects for the long run and whoever will likely be within the GM position by this summer time.
Bergevin should establish who’s expendable, together with any expiring contracts, however he wants a strong plan to finest assist the crew. The Canadiens’ identification, their enjoying model, their core group transferring ahead and the management core have to be nicely established. He should be sure that the affect to the core is minimal in order that the crew can get better rapidly and make a dramatic turnaround subsequent season.
Given the Canadiens wage cap and roster, some gamers are apparent selections to be moved earlier than the March 2022 commerce deadline. Buying and selling them will profit the crew long-term with futures but additionally in opening up roster spots for his or her prospects to step in.
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Unrestricted Free Brokers
Any unrestricted free agent (UFA) ought to be thought of a commerce chip because the season continues. Retaining them to keep away from leaving a gap within the lineup is pointless since, as we’ve seen to date, the Habs’ deficiencies can’t be solved by their presence. Listed below are a couple of gamers prone to discover a new crew by the deadline.
Ben Chiarot is within the closing yr of a three-year, $3.5 million contract. He’s additionally among the many crew leaders in ice time and defensive scoring. The 30-year-old left-shot is a bodily but cellular defenseman at 6-foot-3 and 234 kilos. He’s a low-maintenance blueliner who works nicely on the second pairing and offers high quality play at 5v5 and on the penalty kill.
Groups seeking to make a deep playoff run love so as to add such a participant. He offers management as an NHL veteran and a identified playoff performer. His worth ought to convey the Canadiens a first-round decide in return, in accordance with Elliotte Friedman. Any crew within the playoff hunt desires so as to add defensive depth, particularly in the event that they want to take the following step, just like the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs or his former crew, the Winnipeg Jets. They might all be considering buying a participant like Chiarot on the deadline. Bergevin might even retain 50% of his wage to make the cap construction match and improve his commerce worth.
As a depth defenceman, it received’t harm the Canadiens a lot if Brett Kulak is traded, however it additionally means his worth isn’t as excessive as Chiarot’s. As a 3rd pairing puck-moving defender, he may appeal to a mid-round decide. His $1.8 million wage this season might be a deterrent, however once more, Montreal might retain 50% of his cap hit to make him extra palatable on the commerce market. If nobody is , he can be candidate to re-sign for subsequent season to make sure the crew nonetheless has defensive depth.
Signed to the league minimal one-year, $750 000 contract as a UFA from the KHL, Chris Wideman was introduced in to play a bottom-pairing and power-play position. In his first 15 video games, he has two targets and eight factors, doing nicely within the position he was requested to fill.
His worth on the open market received’t be way more than Kulak’s, however any time a signed UFA may be leveraged right into a draft decide, it reveals good asset administration.
If Mathieu Perreault can get wholesome and play once more earlier than the deadline, he might be one other UFA with expertise who’s coveted by a contending crew. The 33-year-old ahead can play each the wing and at middle, which is effective in the event that they want a participant to maneuver from the press field to the fourth line. The Canadiens can anticipate a mid to late-round draft decide in return.
Restricted Free Brokers
Restricted Free Brokers (RFA) are not often traded on the deadline, but when a corporation has sufficient depth behind them, they’ll fetch a high quality return. Nonetheless, the Canadiens solely have one who might be moved: Artturi Lehkonen.
Lehkonen is a high-quality third-line defensive winger who performs a hard-working, trustworthy recreation. He’s efficient on the forecheck, puck retrieval and offers glorious defensive play. His worth might be as excessive as a first-round decide for a contending crew. He has confirmed himself within the playoffs, with glorious defensive duty and the flexibility to attain massive targets.
Any query as as to if the Canadiens might get a first-round decide in return, take into account the Tampa Bay Lightning, who added Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. A top-nine defensive specialist who can present offence is a key acquisition for any contender, and this season will likely be no exception.
There are different gamers with time period remaining on their contracts who might be on the commerce block, like Jonathan Drouin or Paul Byron, however these kinds of trades would contain the Canadiens taking over a contract, and with the crew already on the cap ceiling, these offers usually tend to happen within the offseason.
The Canadiens have to be sellers this season with a view to construct round their younger core for the long run. Transferring out key gamers and their depth might additionally assist their draft place in what will likely be a deep draft. Dropping veterans will value them factors within the standings, however the trade-off is a better draft place and extra enjoying time for the younger gamers to develop.
Many are hoping or anticipating Bergevin to attend till the deadline within the hopes it creates a bidding battle for some gamers, however he ought to have already got a return in thoughts for every one. If a crew affords that worth, he ought to take it instantly and never gamble for extra worth in case of accidents, but additionally as a result of extra groups will be part of the vendor’s market because the season wears on.
Blain is a daily contributor as a THW Author. For over 7 years he has been an element time journalist and podcaster masking the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens and its associates. He has made appearances on varied tv and radio stations in addition to podcasts to debate the Canadiens, and the NHL. Blain has taken the teachings on integrity, ethics, values and honesty that he has discovered as a 28 yr veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and utilized them to his work as a journalist to information him in informing his readers and his aim of being a trusted supply of data and leisure.