As the trade deadline approaches, we’ll be taking a team-by-team look at who should buy and sell and which players might be on the move. Today, we have Arizona coyotes.
What a fall.
Last July, the Montreal Canadiens participated in the Stanley Cup final. Fast forward six months and they are the league’s last dead midway through the 2021-22 season.
The Canadiens’ offseason has been as wild as their playoff run.
Shortly after losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning, news broke that captain Shea Weber would never play again due to various injuries and that goaltender Carey Price would undergo knee surgery. Beyond that, Montreal also lost Philip Danault, Tomas Tatar and Corey Perry in free agency and Jesperi Kotkaniemi on an offer sheet.
While the Habs added Christian Dvorak, Mike Hoffman and David Savard to replace players they had lost, that wasn’t enough to stop the implosion. Less than two months into the season, Montreal had a putrid 6-15-2 record and opted to fire general manager Marc Bergevin, while making sweeping changes to its front office.
Jeff Gorton has been named the new executive vice-president of hockey operations for Montreal. Gorton then hired longtime player agent Kent Hughes to be the team’s general manager.
From there, Gorton and Hughes’ job will be to lead the Habs through a full rebuild, sell players who are currently on the roster, and stock the organization’s closets during the draft.
Players to watch
Except for a few young players like Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufieldit’s hard to find anyone in the Canadiens who would be off the table as they enter a rebuilding phase.
Montreal has a handful of impending free agents who will almost certainly be moved before the trade deadline.
Ben Chiarot was ranked No. 2 on Frank Seravalli’s list of trade targets earlier in January and is one of the best rental defenders available this year. Chiarot was a rock for the Canadiens in their playoff series last spring, averaging 23:20 per game.
Other rental names to watch out for are Brett Kulak, Chris Wideman, Cedric Paquette and Mathieu Perréault. While none of them move the needle as much as Chariot and will bring in as many returns, they are all quality veterans who can bring value to teams looking to make the playoffs.
The interesting thing to watch with Montreal over the next few months will be which non-renting players they decide to move.
Among the players Montreal has signed beyond this season, Tyler Toffoli would probably be their most attractive business chip. Toffoli is signed to a very reasonable deal worth $4.25 million a year for two more seasons. Toffoli has 35 goals and 65 points in 82 career games in Montreal.
Otherwise, a good chunk of Montreal’s roster would be in low-sell situations. Jeff Petry received Norris Trophy votes last year but has struggled with just five points in 34 games this season. Josh Anderson only has 14 points in 30 games, Mike Hoffman has 12 points in 26 games and Brendan Gallagher has 10 points in 25 games. The game here could be to wait for these players to increase in value again before moving them.
Finally, there is Carey Award, the star goaltender who led the Habs to the Cup Final last year. Price has not played this season because he is part of the NHLPA player assistance program. There has been no word on when he could potentially return.
Price is 34 and has four years left on his contract, worth $10.5 million a year. Although there is a risk involved in trading for Price, everyone has seen what he did in the playoffs and the Habs might be able to get a decent return from a desperate team s he keeps half his salary.
Trade Deadline Preview: Arizona Coyotes