During this offseason, the Montreal Canadiens have been notably active on the trading front, with the potential for further transactions looming before the upcoming season. Their roster has undergone significant changes, with acquisitions including players like Alex Newhook, Casey DeSmith, Nathan Legare, and Gustav Lindstrom. Conversely, they bid farewell to Joel Edmundson, Gianni Fairbrother, Mike Hoffman, and Rem Pitlick, and notably engaged in a trade involving Jeff Petry who was a Canadien for all of a few days before being shipped off to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Canadiens’ trade activity underscores their commitment to reshaping the team for both the present and future. Their General Manager has been transparent about managing the salary cap effectively amidst a substantial retooling process. The team’s position as the 2023-24 NHL season approaches will dictate their trade decisions, but it appears likely that they may not be contenders for the playoffs, signaling a willingness to sell valuable assets, as they did in the previous trade deadline.
Who else might be on the move this season?
DeSmith could be a valuable insurance policy in the event they lose their potential third-string netminder, but Hughes has already told the player his intention is to deal him and not send him to the AHL. He doesn’t want to put others on waivers or demote them either, meaning Cayden Primeau likely isn’t going anywhere.
DeSmith’s contract expires in 2024, and his strong career record as a backup adds to his value. It could just be a matter of waiting for another team to have goalie issues. I
Carey Price’s Contract
A recent interview by goaltender Carey Prive revealed he won’t be back this season and his career is likely over. When asked if he would stand in the way of the Canadiens trading his contract to add major flexibility on the salary cap — Price is a $10.5 million contract and this LTIR situation is somewhat complex — he said he wouldn’t stand in the way and was willing to do what was best for the team.
Casey DeSmith’s acquisition by the Canadiens during this offseason was a notable move but it was never meant to be permanent. He joined the Habs as part of the Canadiens’ involvement in the Erik Karlsson three-team trade as they were willing to absorb his contract, thinking they could move it. So far, they’ve had no luck.
For Hughes, it will be about finding a taker for that contract. It will be to a team that has cap flexibility and no issues as to when they place Price on LTIR. This is a deal that could take some time, but the Canadiens would like to do it this off-season if possible.
David Savard is a prime candidate to be traded by the Canadiens, with considerable interest likely to come their way as teams look to shore up their blue line for a playoff push with an experienced defender. His profile as a top-four shutdown defenseman makes him an attractive target for teams and his contract is enticing, with two years remaining at an average annual value (AAV) of $3.5 million. If the Canadiens are willing to retain a little salary, they should have no trouble finding a home for him.
The Canadiens also need to make room for younger defensemen who are working their way through the system. With a cadre of talented prospects aged 23 and under, such as Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris, Justin Barron, David Reinbacher, Logan Mailloux, and Lane Hutson, the Canadiens should seriously consider trading Savard sooner rather than later.
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