The Montreal Canadiens started the season with high hopes of having a busy trade deadline. General manager Kent Hughes had five unrestricted free agents (UFA) that could have been moved for future assets by March 3. As the season progressed, that number dwindled to three: Sean Monahan, Jonathan Drouin and Evgenii Dadonov. Jake Allen signed an extension taking him off the UFA board, and Paul Byron was placed on long-term injury reserve (LTIR) due to a hip injury that may end his career. The deadline has come and gone, and the Habs were heavily restricted from doing much of anything; for Hughes to get what he wants, he must prepare to make moves this offseason.
Injuries Reason for Canadiens’ Quiet Deadline
The Canadiens had a quiet deadline primarily due to injuries to key players and a lack of production from others. Hughes did manage to trade Dadonov to the Dallas Stars for Denis Gurianov, a first-round pick (12th overall) in 2015. Gurianov started excellently with the Stars, scoring 20 goals in his 2019-20 rookie season but regressed after that; although his point total slightly increased yearly, his goal total decreased. Dadonov didn’t quite fit in with the Habs and struggled throughout his time in Montreal; a change of scenery for both players was needed, and the trade was made in hopes both players would improve with their new teams.
This was the most significant trade made by Hughes at the deadline. Injuries to Monahan and Joel Edmundson kept them from being moved for a return that he would be happy with. Drouin’s injuries and inconsistency were a big reason why interest in him was meager, if there was any at all. To say Hughes was handcuffed is an understatement – while many would see this deadline as a failure, it wasn’t one that the GM could avoid, and he was better off not making a trade simply to make one.
Canadiens Could Use Offseason to Move Players
Hughes could still move players in the offseason that he failed to move at the deadline. Players with term like Mike Hoffman or Joel Armia; both players still have a year left on their contract – Armia has two – after this season but have more significant cap hits. Moving them in the offseason will be easier when teams have more flexibility. This is also true for Edmundson who, while battling injuries, had an interest at the deadline. If he remains healthy, he could draw interest again for a potentially better…
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