While the easy answer would be to suggest that most teams are calling about defenseman Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens ahead of this year’s trade deadline, one insider suggests that’s not the case. In fact, while Chiarot is getting the kind of attention most would expect as a pending UFA, one name has at least three teams calling the Canadiens and begging them to make a specific forward available.
As per Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, Artturi Lehkonen is in incredibly high demand. The pending RFA is playing in the final season of his current contract at a price tag of $2.3 million and he’s about as versatile a forward as there is potentially available in this year’s trade market. Seravalli noted on an episode of the DFO Rundown, “The player I believe is most in-demand from the Montreal Canadiens is Artturi Kehkonen.” He adds:
“Teams see Artturi Lehkonen as this year’s version of Blake Coleman. The scouting report on Artturi Lehkonen is that he does everything in his game exceptionally well except finish, which is ironic because he is Finnish, and that’s the guy that teams are really after to get. I know at least three teams that are begging the Montreal Canadiens to try and get Artturi Lehkonen.”
Arthur Staple of The Athletic reports (subscription required) noted that New York Rangers’ GM Chris Drury has reached out to Canadiens Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Jeff Gorton to discuss Lehkonen’s availability. Keep in mind, the Rangers are believed to be in on just about every big name available and those discussions are being billed as preliminary right now.
Lehkonen Being In Demand Makes Sense
Not only is Lehkonen affordable, but he is the kind of forward most teams would want and need for a playoff stretch run. Sure, it would be nice if he produced more — he’s got five goals and 15 points in 37 games this season — but he is a highly-respected player around the NHL. His defensive game is exceptional and he’s the kind of player coaches love because he can be put on the ice in almost any situation.
Even his own players love what Lehkonen brings on a nightly basis. Tyler Toffoli was quoted as saying, “I love his game… He does all the little things right. It reminds me of kind of when I came into the league, the responsibility that was required day in, day out and he does that.”
Coleman was traded to Tampa Bay for a first-round pick and Nolan Foote. If the Canadiens can get that kind of return, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll move him.
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