A lot of Montreal’s realistic trade currency comes from their back end but there are a few forwards who seemingly have a reasonable chance of being traded between now and the March 21st trade deadline.
Please note that all odds are independent of each other.
Artturi Lehkonen – 70%: I’m not buying that there’s a return out there reminiscent of the ones Tampa Bay paid for Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman in the past. (They’re the one that also overpaid for David Savard last year, a price no one wants to meet for Ben Chiarot either. Their moves aren’t market-definers.) Are there teams that would want him? Absolutely and the Habs should get a good pick or a prospect. But if that’s what’s on the table, would they be better off trying to sign him long-term and see if there are takers for some of their other contracts? I’m sure the legwork has been done already for the most part and while I think he’ll ultimately go, I don’t believe it’s quite a slam dunk that it’ll happen either.
Jonathan Drouin – 40%: I don’t think Drouin is in Montreal’s long-term plans and if he’s still on the roster this time a year from now, I’d be quite surprised. But injuries have prevented him from having a chance to boost his value during this recent strong stretch from the Canadiens. The fact he has another year left at $5.5MM doesn’t help. If there’s a trade to be made, they probably need to use a retention slot and I’m not sure they want to do that in this league year.
Mike Hoffman – 35%: Last year, Hoffman was on an expiring contract and there wasn’t enough of a market for him for a trade to materialize. Now he has two years left at a time where teams don’t want to take long-term money on. However, he’s still someone that can be parachuted in to help a power play and on a veteran contending team, he can be the complementary fit that he’s best suited to be. In other words, he could play the role Marc Bergevin thought he’d be playing with Montreal. This wouldn’t be a trade for future assets but rather a player-for-player swap and I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if it happened in the next couple of weeks.
Joel Armia – 30%: There are two ways Montreal gets out of his contract (three more years at $3.4 million) by the deadline. They can retain on it or they take another contract like his back and hope it’s a better fit. I don’t get the sense that the Canadiens want to retain on a deal for three years but if there’s a similar-priced player out there in need of a change of scenery, that one would make sense. I feel that trade may be more likely in the summer, however, when more teams will be interested in making a move like that.
Ryan Poehling – 30%: At a time where the Habs are clearly rebuilding, the fact that Poehling is on the fourth line and not playing much is cause for some concern. He’s playing relatively well in that role but how much upside does he have left if he can’t work his way up the depth chart? If there are plans to bring another young centre in, Poehling could be squeezed out and with another year on his deal at the league minimum, there could be some interest. I’m not sold that he’s a part of the long-term plans for this management group.
Paul Byron – 30%: If Montreal wants to be active in reshaping this roster with a free agent addition or two (or a new deal for Lehkonen), they need to free up cap space. Byron’s overpaid for the role he fills and he’s someone that I could see them trying to move to save money. I’m just not sure if there’s a viable deal out there that can accomplish that and his leadership in the room is something they value so they’re not going to just give him away either.
Tyler Pitlick – 25%: Yes, he has cleared waivers and yes, he hasn’t played since the trade. (He is in Montreal working out at least.) But if there’s a team that values his performance from the last couple of seasons and Montreal has a retention slot remaining in the minutes leading up to the deadline, they might be able to get a late-round pick for Pitlick.
Josh Anderson – 20%: There’s no doubt that Anderson will be one of Montreal’s more sought-after players. But he fills a unique role for this organization and plays a style that meshes well with how Martin St. Louis wants to play. Every rebuilding team needs to keep some veterans around as well and he’s still young enough (and signed for long enough) to still be around when things are back on the upswing. If there’s a deal that’s too good to pass up on the table (and as a power forward, that can’t be ruled out from happening), then they’d be wise to take it but otherwise, he should stick around.
Christian Dvorak – 15%: No, it hasn’t been a good season for Dvorak although he was playing better before this injury that looked like a concussion but wasn’t called a concussion despite having all of the side effects of a concussion occurred. The Habs don’t have a lot of NHL-ready centre depth and selling low this quickly doesn’t make sense. I’d like to see him under St. Louis and maybe it unlocks the offensive upside I’ve long thought he had. That would bolster his value and at this point, there isn’t much risk for the Canadiens to wait on this, even if he’s not part of their long-term plans.
Michael Pezzetta – 15%: Pezzetta is already on the fringes of the lineup with several forwards injured that are ahead of him on the depth chart. Yes, some trades will alleviate that but he could still be on the fringes between now and the deadline when rosters expand. He doesn’t seem to have the trust of St. Louis who is hardly using him when he is in the lineup so I’m not prepared to call him part of the plans beyond this season. If someone wants him, they’ll listen. Having said that, I don’t sense there will be much interest.
Laurent Dauphin – 10%: Dauphin has certainly boosted his value this season with how he has played since coming up to the Habs. His spot in the lineup is going to get bumped as some of their regulars return and with a lot of teams looking for depth down the middle, it’d be far from a guarantee that he could make it through waivers. If he’s going to get squeezed out of a spot, maybe they can find a trade taker for him but I’m not going to say that scenario is likely to happen.
Brendan Gallagher – 10%: He has a bad contract, plain and simple. You know it, I know it, and all 32 general managers around the league know it. Gallagher will be quite tough to move as a result. On top of that, the Habs would be selling extremely low. From an asset management standpoint, there isn’t much risk of holding onto him. If he keeps declining, he’ll still have no trade value. If he bounces back next season though, perhaps there’s a better pathway to moving him then. But in the next couple of weeks? It doesn’t seem feasible to me.
Cedric Paquette – 10%: This isn’t a case of the Habs valuing him and wanting to keep him. No, it’s a matter of no one wanting him. He can’t crack Montreal’s lineup when he’s healthy and hasn’t done anything in the games he played back when Dominique Ducharme was behind the bench. If he can’t crack the lineup of one of the worst teams in the league, he’s not cracking the lineup of a playoff-bound team. Maybe someone wants him in exchange for a fringe minor leaguer but I wouldn’t expect that to happen.
Mathieu Perreault – 10%: Perreault may be open to going to a contending club but I don’t see a contender necessarily wanting him. Teams looking for veteran forward depth often want penalty killers or faceoff specialists. Perreault doesn’t check either of those boxes nor has he scored enough to be shopped as an offensive threat either; he has scored in only one of the 17 games he has played in. Maybe someone flips a seventh-rounder for him if they strike out on a bunch of other targets but I don’t think there’s going to be any interest in him.
Less Than 5%
Cole Caufield: Do I need to explain here? He’s showing plenty of upside since the coaching change and looks like a player that should be a key part of Montreal’s long-term future. He’s staying put.
Jake Evans: He has shown enough this season to be a part of Montreal’s plans moving forward. It’s going to be in a lower-end role but his three-year extension is certainly affordable, especially with Montreal’s depth down the middle. He’s worth more to the Canadiens than elsewhere around the league so he’ll be sticking around.
Rem Pitlick: The usual caveat about waiver claims applies (if others claimed him, it basically makes him untradeable) but he’s someone that they need to evaluate down the stretch to see if he’s worth keeping around for a little bit. Pitlick has been spotted in at centre periodically and is getting a long look on the penalty kill. That’s not the type of player that the Canadiens will be trading away, especially since he’s only 24.
Nick Suzuki: The Habs need quality centres. Suzuki is a quality centre that’s signed through the end of the decade. Need I say more?