Several Habs could be on their way out come trade deadline

January 31, 2023
The Montreal Canadiens could be getting ready to sell as they did last season.

Whether or not the front office of the Montreal Canadiens want to call their current situation a rebuild or not – it is exactly what the team is currently going through. At last seasons NHL trade deadline, Habs GM Kent Hughes was very active, shipping out veteran players like Artturi Lehkonen, Ben Chariot and Tyler Toffoli for draft picks and prospects – and that is probably what Hughes and company will be attempting to do again this year.

Montreal is in a unique situation, where it would take a minor miracle for them to reach a playoff spot and – thanks to the trade that sent Chariot to the Florida Panthers, could find themselves with not one, but two entries in the NHL draft lottery sweepstakes, with the prize being Connor Bedard, a player largely touted to become the next big player in the league. That is before any trade movement has taken place.

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There are several players that might peek the interests of other teams about the league, who are looking to add to their squads for a potential playoff run. The problem with that is that once again this season, the Canadiens have struggled to stay healthy – and many of the pieces they would like to move are currently on the injury reserve list. Players such as Jonathan Drouin, Joel Armia, Sean Monahan and Joel Edmunson are all listed as injured but should return before the trade deadline, while Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov have also spent time injured this season.

Of the group, Monahan and Edmunson could be the more attractive players available – but both have a history of serious injuries. Monahan had hip replacement surgey and was traded to the Canadiens, alongside a first round pick for future considerations before the season began – in effect, the Flames paid the Canadiens to take on Monahan’s final year. Edmunson has had multiple back injuries that have seen him miss considerable time these past two seasons, and is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. Monahan has a suspected foot injury, and was seen a few days prior to being placed on the injury reserve list on crutches and wearing a boot brace.

Monahan, as well as Drouin and Dadonov, are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, and that alone might entice teams to take a chance on them. Drouin has struggled and has yet to score a goal this season. In fact, it has now been over a calendar year since he has scored a goal, therefore his value might well be at an all-time low. Dadonov, a former 70-point scorer, has struggled with the Habs this year, although he has had his moments too. At 33, he too might not fetch a whole lot.

Edmunson, despite his injuries, is exactly the sort of player GM’s look for come trade deadline. A big, powerful and physical stay-at-home defenseman that is also a very good skater. He has another year on his deal which includes a ten-team no trade clause. Time will tell if that becomes a factor or not. As for Monahan, he has shown in his brief stint with the Canadiens that he still has gas in the tank and that the hips are healed up. Rumors have been heating up that the Colorado Avalanche would like to add his services for a playoff push.

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There are also rumors that several teams are interested in Habs power forward Josh Anderson, who Montreal would like to retain but would consider moving should something irresistible come about. Anderson however, fits in with what the Canadiens are trying to build and therefore it would probably take an over-payment to pry him away.

In other news, injured star goaltender Carey Price has announced that he and his family intend to move to British Columbia following the hockey season, which may indicate that Price’ days in the NHL are all but over.  Price originally underwent surgery in July 2021, to repair a torn meniscus and was scheduled to miss three months as he recovered. But a series of setbacks have continued to keep him away from the game. His Montreal home will soon be hitting the real estate market.

The NHL trade deadline this year falls on March 3rd.