Before the opening of free agency, the Habs made a pair of trades as Andrew Shaw and Nicolas Deslauriers were dealt to Chicago and Anaheim respectively. Our writers have pondered the moves and offer up their opinions on the swap.
While we all now know what the primary purpose of the moves were in terms of clearing cap, our writers were asked to comment on the swaps before the offer sheet happened.
Brian La Rose: If the Shaw that put up 47 points in 63 games last season is the one that makes it to Chicago, this could hurt. That’s legitimate second-line production on the way out the door (and someone willing to do the dirty work in the corners) for some future assets. That said, I have concerns about his ability to stay healthy and with three years left on his contract, that has to be a concern. At least GM Marc Bergevin sold high but there’s now a vacancy that needs to be filled and preferably not by Nick Suzuki just yet.
As for Deslauriers, that’s a move I like. I couldn’t see a scenario where he even made the team next season and had basically slotted him into a third-line role with Laval. Who would want a slow enforcer who reverted back to being unable to score? Apparently, Anaheim did and was willing to pay a lot more than I thought he was worth. That’s a nice more for a depth piece that didn’t have a future with the team.
Kevin Leveille: I think the true evaluation of both moves will forever be linked to what happened on UFA day. However, if one looks at the moves individually, it shows a continuation of the very positive moves started by Bergevin last summer. I was a fan of Deslauriers and thought he brought more to the table than many others out there. That being said, with the way the league is trending, I did not think he held any value across the league so to collect a 4th rounder here was a value add by Bergevin. The Shaw trade sees Bergevin acquire what he dealt for Shaw in the first place with the exception of one second-rounder becoming a third. So for three seasons in Shaw’s prime, all it really cost Montreal was a few years of development and moving down one round of a draft. More deals like that, please!
Paul MacLeod: Hallelujah! Bergevin has finally learned asset management! Trading Shaw at his peak value is an excellent move. Shaw is reputed to be an excellent “glue guy” and “good in the room”. He is also one of the grittier players on the team and those elements will have to be replaced. However, Shaw was never able to play a full season for the Canadiens and one more concussion would put his NHL career in jeopardy. In the new cap economy, it was an accomplishment to get two picks and not retain any salary. All in all, an excellent return that clears a roster spot for a younger player or a free agent. Grade: A
While Shaw had one of his most productive seasons, Deslauriers looked to have lost a step last season and with it, his place in the lineup. His physicality needs to be replaced–hopefully with more speed and talent attached– but a 4th round pick is an excellent return for a player who was likely to be on waivers after training camp. Well done to Bergevin to stockpile another draft pick while clearing additional cap space. Grade B+ only because it seems excessive to give an “A” for a transaction involving a 4th line player and a 4th round pick.
Norm Szcyrek: I admit I was a little surprised to hear the news that Bergevin traded Shaw back to Chicago. The price to pay to obtain Shaw was high (two high second-round picks) but the trade was somewhat lopsided after one of those picks turned into Alex DeBrincat who has emerged as a 41-goal scorer in only his second NHL season. In Shaw, the Habs had a solid veteran who was known as a good playoff performer. It’s disappointing that the Canadiens only managed to make the postseason once out of the three seasons Shaw played for them.
Unfortunately, Shaw’s stay with the Canadiens was marred with injuries every year. Multiple concussions were especially impactful; one occurred alongside a knee injury. They caused him to adjust his rambunctious style somewhat. The end result was his best offensive production with the Habs this past season. While in Montreal, he provided leadership and always put in a solid effort, and I believe he was a good mentor for the younger players. At least the return from his move back to Chicago is another second round, third round and seventh-round pick.
The Habs other pre-UFA day trade involving Deslauriers was a decent exchange. Deslauriers was often a healthy scratch for the team last season, although he had a positive impact for the team when they obtained him in 2017-18. Both moves provided the Habs with extra cap space, which we now know was meant for their RFA offer on July 1st.