While on the surface it may seem odd for the Habs, a rebuilding team, to move out their prospects, there are some that appear to have a chance of being dealt. They’re the focus of our final trade odds piece.
Please note that all odds are independent of each other. Unlike the first two instalments of this series, we’re only going to focus on some specific players that may have at least a slight chance of moving.
Lukas Vejdemo – 30%: In a perfect world, the Habs would like to keep Vejdemo and perhaps even give him another look down the stretch. But he’s out for at least another month which makes that scenario a lot less likely. He’s a Group VI UFA this summer so he’s not a lock to stick around either. Contract slots are going to be meaningful and Montreal only has four available. If they have to send a minor leaguer back to match contracts, picking the player that’s injured may be the route they go.
Sami Niku – 30%: It’s quite possible that he’s back up in Montreal if they wind up moving out several defencemen. But if only one other blueliner goes, Joel Edmundson is basically Ben Chiarot’s replacement and Corey Schueneman takes the place of the other. Niku isn’t happy in Laval and it’s quickly becoming evident that he’s not a long-term piece for the Canadiens. It’s also worth noting that he needs six more NHL games to avoid VI status as well and remain a restricted free agent which could be of interest to a team. While Laval’s defensive depth isn’t great at the moment, it wouldn’t surprise me if they found a place for him where he had a better shot at making it back up to the big club.
J-S Dea/Alex Belzile – 25%: This is basically the same scenario as Vejdemo. Dea is healthy and starting to show some signs of being the impact centre he was signed to be. Belzile is injured but is the more impactful AHL player. If he has a setback, Belzile could be subbed for Vejdemo while a contender with a good AHL team may push for Dea instead.
Cam Hillis – 20%: Hillis is still very much a prospect but he’s nearing the end of his second professional season and can’t make it past the fourth line in Laval, even when the Rocket have a bunch of players on AHL contracts and tryouts in the lineup. I think he has been better than that but evidently, J-F Houle and his staff disagree and Montreal’s management isn’t pushing for him to play more. If they’ve basically soured on Hillis, he could be one they look to move to free up a contract slot for next season.
Joel Teasdale – 20%: The fact that Teasdale has another waiver-exempt year left after this one (since he missed his entire rookie year due to injury) is something that may be appealing to another team. It’s also possible that the Habs decide they plan to move on from him this summer with a non-tender. In that scenario, he’s another option in the contract-matching department and I’ve probably slotted him too low. But I’d like to see him stick around and with a full offseason, I think he could still be a viable prospect so I’m lowering his odds a bit as a result.
Josh Brook – 15%: He’s injured again as his surgically-repaired knee is dealing with some swelling. If they’ve decided to move on from him this summer, he might jump to the front of the line in terms of the likelihood of being traded. But if they feel Brook still has some upside, they won’t just include him for contract-matching purposes.
Jordan Harris – 50%: There are two possible scenarios with Harris. One is that he signs. The other is that if he has informed Montreal he won’t sign with them, there’s value in flipping his rights now. If he’s on the reserve list of another team by the deadline, that team could then sign and use Harris right away, burning the first year of his entry-level contract. The ability to do that is worth a draft pick coming Montreal’s way and would be much better for the Canadiens than potentially losing him for nothing. (It’s the same idea as the Jack McBain situation in Minnesota.) If Harris is still with the Canadiens after the deadline, that will be a strong indication that they think they can sign him. Personally, I still think it’s a coin flip, hence the 50/50 odds.
Brett Stapley – 20%: I think he has done enough for Montreal to sign him but if they don’t feel that way, he’s someone whose negotiating rights might be worth something to a team who doesn’t want to wait for August 16th to roll around.
Mattias Norlinder – 15%: Things haven’t gone too well for him in Sweden since he went back following his time with Montreal and Laval. Has his value in the organization tanked? Probably not but it’s a new group evaluating him and if they aren’t as sold on him as Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins were, he’s someone that could potentially move in a prospect-prospect swap. I think that’d be more of a summer move but he’s a prospect I could see being available for the right deal.
Arber Xhekaj – 10%: This management team is looking for speed and skill and Xhekaj isn’t exactly that. He brings a physical element that Montreal’s prospect core lacks but it was Bergevin’s team that signed him, not the current one. If Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton aren’t big fans, they may try to sell high as Xhekaj’s stock has certainly gone up since the start of the season. However, the fact Hughes brought him up unsolicited in his press conference on Thursday as part of their future plans suggests it’s unlikely to happen.
Logan Mailloux – 10%: Again, this isn’t the management team that brought Mailloux into the organization. If they are of the belief that they won’t want to sign him, a trade now can’t be ruled out in a swap that would bring another comparable young player to the team. Personally, I think that if they go that route, it will be at the draft instead of now.
Jacob Olofsson – 10%: Montreal has until June 1st to sign the 2018 second-round pick. It seems like a near-lock that they won’t be doing so. If someone else has interest in signing him, he could go as a throw-in in a trade or for future considerations; it won’t be anything exciting for a return.