Montreal Canadiens is a franchise looking to reduce its salary before the trade deadline. The 2020-21 Stanley Cup Final runner up has had a difficult time in 2021-22, with the lowest total of points (22) through 39 games. The Habs are currently at the top of the list for the 2022 NHL Draft with a record 8-25-6.
Two key pieces for the franchise’s success last year have been inactive this season. Shea Weber’s playing career is in doubt as he is recovering from several injuries. Carey Price joined the NHL/NHLPA Players Assistance Program in October. Rehabbing from a Knee Injury. His return date is uncertain.
The team was defeated Corey Perry and Tomas Tatar were available for free agency in the offseason. After making it to the Cup Final, the Canadiens were faced with too many roster changes. Having injuries to other key players, roster members missing games due to COVID protocol, and front office changes are other explanations for the franchise’s misfortune this year.
Jeff Gorton, a former New York Rangers general manger, was appointed as the executive vice president for hockey operations (VPHO), for the Canadiens, on Nov. 28, 2008. The Habs fired Marc Bergevin as general manager, Trevor Timmins as assistant general manager, and Paul Wilson, senior vice president. Scott Mellanby, the assistant general manager, also resigned.
Some of the Habs players could be traded to the Rangers by March deadline. They have some players that could make good matches for the Rangers as they attempt to qualify for 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here are three Rangers president/general managers (GM) Chris Drury may target from the Canadiens after the trade deadline.
Ben Chiarot, a 30-year-old defenseman, would be a player Gerard Gallant could use on the left side. The Rangers’ strength at the position is on the right side with Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba. K’Andre Miller is not having as good of a year as his rookie season and has struggled defensively at times. One example of this is November’s Western Canada game, where the team lost a few games and Trouba was often on the ice when opposition scored.
Miller is just 21 and was among the surprising players to make it onto the roster at the conclusion of training camp 2020-21. Fox, Miller, and Ryan Lindgren, all young defensemen, despite their talent. Drury might look at players who are a bit older and can add to the youthful talent at the position.
Gallant has mixed and matched various combinations of the third defensive pair throughout the season. Patrik Nmeth, Nils Ludkvist and Zac Jones were assembled in the first half. Jarred Tinordi was also part of this team. It remains to be seen if any one of these defensemen can remain paired with Nemeth as he looks to be one of the options the Rangers’ head coach prefers to play.
Chiarot is now in his ninth season playing in the NHL. This will also be his third season with the Canadiens. He isn’t known for his offensive stats, but he can be trusted for his ability as a shutdown defenseman. His height is 6ft-3 and weight is 234 lbs. He was previously a five-season veteran of the Winnipeg Jets and Trouba, the current Rangers defenseman.
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He averages about 18 minutes of ice-time in more than 631 minutes in 2021-22. He could provide some rest for players like Trouba or Fox with his average minutes. Chiarot’s contract expires at the end of the season and he will be a free agent. Given his status as an unrestricted, free agent (UFA), it would not be difficult for Drury if he was to acquire him.
In a piece Daily FaceoffFrank Seravalli stated that Chiarot was one of the players who could be moved before the deadline and that the Rangers were a potential suitor for him. General managers of playoff teams see him as a potential depth acquisition for their defense. The Blueshirts may be a candidate, especially if there are any injuries to the position at the deadline of March 21.
It remains to be seen how many of the Canadiens will remain a part of the team after this season when factoring in the team’s poor record and the changes in the front office. The Scarborough, Toronto native, 29-year-old, is likely to remain with the team after 2021-22, or may be traded. Kent Hughes, the Habs general manger, could be interested if Drury makes a proposal for Tyler Toffoli to benefit the team’s future.
Kevin Weekes, an analyst for ESPN, believes the Rangers could be seeking a forward to put on either of the top two lines, “One could make this case that they could try to get another top-six winger. Could they want somebody like a Tyler Toffoli maybe, from Montreal?” (from ‘Rangers’ standing as serious Stanley Cup contender comes with a caveat,’ New York PostToffoli (January 2, 2012) Toffoli would be a Rangers player who has previous Stanley Cup championship-winning experiences as he was a 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings member.
Toffoli would be a great addition to the Rangers’ top line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. The Canadiens forward has had six goals and 13 assists in 27 games during the 2021-22 seasons. He finished last season with 28 goals, which was close to his career-high. He scored 31 goals during the 2015-16 season for the Kings.
He is currently earning $4.25m in 2021-22. He will be earning the same average annually value (AAV), next season, and 2023-24 before becoming an UFA. Canadiens plan to increase cap space by releasing some players before the deadline and during the offseason. Toffoli, depending on how the front office approaches the situation, could be a player whose availability general mangers inquire about before the deadline.
The Rangers would have depth at the forward position with the 32-year old forward. Hughes could decide to end his relationship with Mike Hoffman in order to make room for pending restricted free agents (RFA), Sami Niku or Kale Clague, Artturi Lehkonen and Michael Pezetta. Canadiens may want to keep cap space available to sign a pending UFA, or to offer a free agent in offseason.
Hoffman would give the Rangers a player Gerard Gallant can play in the top nine. Hoffman has a track record of scoring goals and assists in his previous years with the Ottawa Senators (Florida Panthers), and St. Louis Blues. While he has been plagued by injuries, his track records could prove to be beneficial for a team like the Rangers that is looking to make it to the playoffs.
Related: Mike Hoffman: Four Things You Need to Know About The Canadiens Forward
Hoffman averaged 26 goals and 29 assists over seven seasons, 2014-15 to 2020-21. Drury has an AAV for Hoffman of $4.5million in 2021-22, and the next two years. This would be something he should consider if he was interested in adding him the Rangers. The Rangers’ president/GM may find his contract not worth taking on given his age while factoring in the UFA’s and RFA’s who are due extensions for the Rangers.
Gorton and Hughes have a vision for the future. The Canadiens want to create a solid core to support Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak, Josh Anderson, and Josh Anderson. Some players are available that might be of interest for playoff contenders. Drury will have to decide whether the Canadiens roster player is worth the investment if he or she is not a UFA after 2021-22.
Matt is an expert on the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, and has previously written content for The Hockey Writers regarding the Philadelphia Flyers or the Pittsburgh Penguins. Follow the link to send an email or request a podcast interview. Matt on TwitterIt appears at the bottom of his articles.