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The Montreal Canadiens’ recent reacquisition of Jeff Petry, who was a week or so later traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Gustav Lindstrom and a fourth-round draft pick, was a lost opportunity for the Habs. They should have instead given Petry away for a pick and used his salary to further upgrade Montreal’s scouting and managerial departments. Basically, they should have done a “pay Peter by robbing Paul” move.

I believe that the Habs have a very good group of scouts under their employ, but very good is not good enough. Instead, the Canadiens must be in the NHL’s elite in this category. I likewise like their current management team but again, the addition of a few more voices would catapult this franchise into the league’s upper echelon. The only way to make this happen is by investing more money in these areas.

The Montreal Canadiens should have waited a month or two and traded Petry and his $9Mish salary over the next two years for whatever draft picks that they could have obtained and used this freed-up money to hire more quality scouts and some additional minds to its brain trust. Such a move would have been better asset management.

A long time ago, the Toronto Blue Jays let star player Carlos Delgado and his $10M salary go. They took this money and bought the then, SkyDome for the same amount. They then renamed the retractable roof stadium, Rogers Stadium, and have been writing off this legitimate advertising expense ever since. Now that’s a smart use of money.

The Montreal Canadiens are likely going to be picking high these next two years. Now is the best time to take advantage of this limited opportunity by selecting quality players via the draft. Having more scouts on hand, for instance, is analogous to a developing nation investing in critical infrastructure for economic growth. You can’t grow your economy if you don’t have roads to move your goods to markets. In a similar way, Montreal can’t grow itself into a true Stanley Cup contender until it acquires the necessary personnel.

Some teams, the Dallas Stars, for example, have been phenomenally good in their drafting. The Toronto Maple Leafs have a ridiculously high abundance of great scouts. Many of them have to be frustrated as year after year, they have not been given much to work with in terms of draft picks. Then, there’s Nashville and Tampa. Both of these teams have also been very good at uncovering gems.

I say poach a few of the scouts from these teams as the Habs did with skills guru Adam Nicholas from the Maple Leafs. $9M could have gotten some quality assessors of talent for the developing Canadiens.

Likewise, using this same outside-the-box thinking, Montreal should have used some of this saved money on a Petry for a pick deal to also add to their management team.

There are many things that Kent Hughes impresses me with. One potential red flag though, is that he seems to like working with people that he knows well – both in player acquisitions and with advisors. So far, I can’t argue much with his overall results, but surely getting additional, outside perspectives wouldn’t be a bad thing. This was one of former GM Marc Bergevin’s greatest deficiencies. Hopefully, history is not repeating itself.

Now some of you are saying, “Why doesn’t team president Geoff Molson simply dole out this money?” Because neither he nor this franchise is as deep-pocketed as it appears.

Yes, the Montreal Canadiens are one of the NHL’s richer franchises, but much of this wealth will come whenever this club is put up for sale. A lot of its value is on paper. The Canadiens are not the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Habs are not co-owned by two telecom behemoths that have oodles of money to burn. So, the Canadiens need to be creative in finding money to pay for additional scouting and management personnel.

Last season, Montreal secured a first-round pick to take Sean Monahan and his hefty $6.4M salary off of Calgary’s hands. The Habs spent big money for a first-round draft pick that at the time, was presumed to be one taken around 20th or 32nd overall in 2025. If the Habs hit pay dirt, this pick could go even higher and that would be great. Dollar-for-dollar, though, was this the best use of Geoff Molson’s money?

The Montreal Canadiens had enough money to pay Jeff Petry roughly $9M over the next two years. Sean Monahan received $6.4 from the previous one. Imagine what investing roughly $15M over three years could have netted in critical infrastructure? Wouldn’t such a move have increased their odds of landing at least 2-3 cheaper, quality young players that ultimately would help take the Habs over the top?

I sure believe so. In my estimation, such a move would have been a more prudent use of money that was already allocated to be spent. Indeed, this investment may have even saved the Montreal Canadiens cash in the long run.

It’s not too late to reverse this financial mistake. There are still some players on Montreal’s roster who will not move the needle one way or another. I say trade them for picks and then take their allocated salaries and reinvest them in critical infrastructure. Doing so would be a pivotal step toward building the Montreal Canadiens into an elite NHL franchise.