Despite their public proclamations to the contrary, the Habs head into the trade deadline as a seller as evidenced by the recent Marco Scandella trade. What players are the next likeliest to be on the move?
Nate Thompson: 85% – Deep down, I think Marc Bergevin would genuinely like to keep him around if for no other reason than his presence in the room. However, Jake Evans, Ryan Poehling, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are all in the mix to get back to the NHL and moving Thompson would be a way for them to get a longer look at one of them. Plus, faceoffs and penalty killing acumen is something that contenders covet at this time so there should be a reasonable amount of interest.
Ilya Kovalchuk: 60% – The easy call here would be to put 50% and call it a coin flip which at this point, it probably is. However, I don’t see the Habs being willing to give Kovalchuk the type of contract he’d want to forego another shot at the open market with some positive momentum on his side. If they can’t agree on a new deal, then they need to move him.
Nick Cousins: 30% – While he’s a restricted free agent this summer, he’s likely getting non-tendered due to his arbitration eligibility (you may recall that’s how he got to the Habs in the first place). I don’t think there’s a big market but a team looking for some fourth line depth may come calling.
Tomas Tatar: 20% – There is a compelling case to be made to move him especially as it is looking like a sellers’ market. However, as long as Bergevin thinks that this core can contend for a playoff spot next season, he’s not likely going to make any moves to take away from that which means moving Tatar is probably off the table barring a too good to be true offer.
Charlie Lindgren: 15% – If the Habs wind up adding another goalie, chances are they’ll need to send one the other way. Lindgren is cheap and has already cleared waivers this season (he’ll have to pass through again but there’s less risk of him being claimed) so he could easily be the one getting swapped.
Christian Folin: 15% – Right-shot defencemen are always in demand at this time of year so I think there is a small market for him if the Habs are willing to take a lesser (but younger) AHL defenceman for his services. However, he could also stick around as the #7 with Montreal the rest of the way as well.
Dale Weise: 10% – He has been serviceable since his recall to the Habs and if they’re willing to give him away with 50% retention (freeing up a contract slot which is notable since they’re at 48), they could find a taker for his services.
Max Domi: 10% – I could see a player-player trade being made involving Domi but those are usually made in the offseason, not the trade deadline. That will give Montreal a chance to evaluate him down the stretch to see if he’s someone they want to commit to for the long haul or if he’s expendable.
Jordan Weal: 10% – Considering how his role went from a regular to needing multiple injuries to have a shot at getting back into the lineup, I think the Habs may want to move him. The extra year on his deal may make that tricky though unless they’re taking someone else back who’s signed for next season as well.
Less than 10% but not impossible that they move
Paul Byron – His contract (three more years at $3.4M) and minimal production when healthy this season make a move unlikely at this time. If he finishes strong, the odds for an offseason move would go up slightly.
Brett Kulak – He’s not having a great year but he is still showing some flashes of upside. However, having two years left on his deal may scare interested teams off anyway.
Victor Mete – I’m not convinced that he’s part of Montreal’s long-term plans (he looks like a possible unprotectee in the Seattle draft) so if the right move came up, I think he could go. The offseason where teams currently selling are more open to buying is the better time to try to move him though.
Xavier Ouellet – His trade value is non-existent but if a team wants a throw-in for defensive depth, he could be that player. While it’s looking like he could stick with Montreal down the stretch, he’s clearly not a part of their long-term plans so they won’t be against moving him.
Jeff Petry – Like Tatar, the sellers’ market makes it tempting to move him but as long as Bergevin thinks this group can make it next year, Petry stays. Shea Weber’s recent injury history decreases those odds even further.
Not Going Anywhere
(Due to role, contract, recent injuries, etc)