Last year, the Habs weren’t able to trade Sean Monahan due to injury. That won’t be the case this time around as on Friday, Montreal traded the centre to Winnipeg for a 2024 first-round pick and a conditional 2027 third-rounder. The Canadiens will receive that conditional pick only if the Jets win the Stanley Cup this season.
Montreal picked up Monahan from Calgary in 2022 with the Flames attaching a first-round pick to get out of the final year of his contract which carried a $6.375 million price tag at the time. The 29-year-old got off to a good start in 2022-23 with 17 points in 25 games and it looked like they’d have a chance to flip him for some value as long as they retained salary. Instead, Monahan had multiple injuries and after being shut down in early December, he didn’t return.
With his market value low due to his recent injury history, Monahan elected to sign a one-year deal to stay with Montreal. The deal carried a guaranteed payout of $1.985 million with another $15,000 in a games played bonus. (That $15,000 will stay on Montreal’s books even with the trade as he reached the 26-game mark with the Canadiens.)
This season, Monahan once again got off to a slow start before slowing down near the one-quarter mark. However, he found his offensive footing once 2024 came around as he led the Habs in points with 14 in 13 games last month. Monahan departs the Habs as their third-highest point-getter with 35 in 49 games; 16 of those points came on the man advantage.
Worth noting, Montreal did not retain any of Monahan’s contract as part of the move, leaving one slot open to potentially be used later in the season. Don’t expect that to be used on David Savard, however, as GM Kent Hughes indicated in a press conference after the trade that he isn’t looking to move the veteran rearguard. Speculatively, goaltender Jake Allen could be a possibility though but he does have another year at $3.85 million left on the books.
Centre depth had been an issue recently for the Habs and the departure of Monahan only exacerbates that. However, Hughes noted that Alex Newhook is expected back soon which helped give him the confidence to pull the trigger on this move now. Newhook didn’t exactly thrive down the middle earlier this year but with this being a rebuilding year, he’ll now get a couple of months in that role to see if he could be a viable fit.
At the moment, the Habs only have 10 available forwards on the roster with Brendan Gallagher still serving his suspension. Accordingly, expect a couple of recalls from Laval early next week after the All-Star break. A centre (or two) would make a lot of sense from those promotions, especially if Newhook isn’t quite ready to play on February 6th, their next game.
The Habs now have a dozen picks in the upcoming draft, plus the potential to take the pick they acquired in the Monahan swap this season (if Florida’s pick lands between 20 and 32). Having said that, they’re likely not going to do so and let that pick push to 2025 where it could land much earlier in the draft. Meanwhile, they now have 44 contracts on the books out of the maximum of 50.