The Montreal Canadiens might make a number of moves before the NHL Trade Deadline and they might move players during the summer, sometime around the NHL Entry Draft. One way or the other, most insiders believe that moves are coming.
Two names that get brought up often are Ilya Kovalchuk and Max Domi. Both are interesting case studies and both could be moved for entirely different reasons.
The prospect of an Ilya Kovalchuk trade is the more obvious of the two moves because Kovalchuk is an ideal rental on paper. Playing for the NHL league’s minimum salary, he’s performing beyond expectations for the Canadiens and what was a no-risk gamble has paid off well should the Habs decide to move him.
A few teams would likely show interest in the veteran sniper and the consensus seems to be a mid-round draft pick might get a deal done, even though the Canadiens would like a second-rounder.
“I think a fourth-round pick is the best they’re going to get at this point,” one assistant GM wrote on Wednesday. “But if we keep seeing these goals for the next three weeks…”
Kovalchuk scored another big goal on Tuesday night and he seems to play well when the bright lights are on and when given an opportunity to excel. The playoffs could be a place where he really goes on a tear and helps a team.
The question is what the Canadiens will do if all they can get is a fourth-round pick? It would make sense the team then looks at extending him, should Kovalchuk be willing to stay. “If they were smart, they would keep him,” one GM said. “It has been a great signing.”
In that case, the Canadiens might want to offer him a one-year deal full of performance bonuses.
One player that seems like a less obvious move but who could still get dealt is forward Max Domi. This might be a deal to moves past the deadline and into the summer.
Yvon Pedneault of Le Journal de Montreal (translation required) has examined Domi’s future in Montreal and noted the emergence of rookie Nick Suzuki could change Domi’s importance with the organization. If Suzuki continues to step up his game, the Canadiens will find themselves even more uncertain about committing long-term and big money to Domi who hasn’t stepped up this season when given the opportunity.
Today, in front of the performances of Suzuki, do we have a very different evaluation of Domi, who is far from having made the difference and who was unable to take up an important challenge, that of being a great leader during that there was congestion in the infirmary?
Pedneault reminds readers that the Canadiens have over $62 million invested in next season’s roster already. Where does Domi fit into that and is this the best place to spend their remaining dollars?
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