Canadiens Have No Good Reason to Trade Edmundson

Just two seasons since being acquired by the Montreal Canadiens, defenseman Joel Edmundson has probably been safe from being traded up until this point. Now that he’s been named an alternate captain to start 2022-23, forget about it. The shutdown defenseman’s not going anywhere.

Edmundson vs. Toffoli

True, Tyler Toffoli did serve as an alternate captain in 2021-22, and everyone knows how that turned out. Of course, Toffoli got dealt to the Calgary Flames ahead of the last trade deadline, albeit in one of general manager Kent Hughes’ less impressive deals.

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All that to say, there’s a case to be made the Canadiens shouldn’t have traded Toffoli then, based on his chemistry with Nick Suzuki and the term left on his deal. They shouldn’t trade Edmundson, who’s got a year left under contract after 2022-23, now.

Joel Edmundson
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson – (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The notion’s somewhat relevant in light of reports teams are interested in Edmundson. However, even though the Canadiens are at least unofficially undergoing a rebuild and can use the assets any hypothetical Edmundson trade would bring in, a rebuild calls for a lot more than just futures.

It calls for some degree of guidance in the present, and, based on the fact Edmundson was just given an “A,” clearly the Canadiens see him as a key component from a leadership standpoint. Suzuki, having just been named the youngest captain in Canadiens history at 23, needs some help in that regard, and trading away one of the few remaining veteran leaders on the team would be counterintuitive, especially seeing as the return wouldn’t realistically be all that significant.

Canadiens Can Get Best of Both Worlds with Edmundson

Those reports, care of Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports, do admittedly say attractive offers have been made, but “attractive” is relative. For a defenseman coming off an injury-riddled 2021-22 season in which he played just 24 games, it’s hard to imagine teams offering up anything so significant the Canadiens wouldn’t be able to get at the next trade deadline, or even in 2023-24, as Edmundson’s deal is about to expire.

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In other words, the Canadiens are in a position to get the best of both worlds. They can take advantage of Edmundson’s leadership in the immediate future and give him a chance to further build up his value as a steadying, stay-at-home presence for the purposes of a trade, if they so choose. The point is, they have time with which to come to a decision regarding Edmundson, and, in no realistic alternate reality, is there an offer on the table so grandiose that would justify them rushing to make it.

Now, Edmundson has worn an “A” in games for the Habs in the past. So, it technically wouldn’t be a situation in which the Canadiens only name him an alternate captain just to absurdly turn around and trade him. And, even though Alexander Romanov was traded this offseason, Mike Matheson was acquired to replenish the depth on the left side on defense for all intents and purposes.

Mike Matheson Pittsburgh Penguins
Current-Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Nevertheless, without Edmundson, that left side would comprise only a single certainty in Matheson. Corey Schueneman is more of a seventh than regular defenseman. Meanwhile, even though Jordan Harris got in 10 games last season after signing his entry-level contract, he’s waiver-exempt. So, he’s by no means a lock to make the team out of training camp, if the Canadiens deem a demotion to the American Hockey League necessary for his development.

Blue-chip-prospect Kaiden Guhle is in a similar boat. Many may feel he could challenge for a roster spot out of training camp and it’s possible he earns one, but the idea of both Harris and Guhle playing regularly as two of the team’s top three left-handed defensemen is unlikely to say the least. If they do both get playing time with the Canadiens, likelier than not some form a rotation, including Justin Barron, will take shape. In such an instance, the Habs still need Edmundson.

Edmundson “Untouchable” for Right Now

Obviously, Edmundson isn’t “untouchable” in the truest sense of the term. And, if you’re not untouchable, there is a certain price that can be paid, but unless the return includes a veteran defenseman like Edmundson, it’s hard to see it being worthwhile based on the Canadiens’ needs at this time. And, if you’re looking for a veteran defenseman in return, why trade Edmundson at all?

Joel Edmundson
Ex-St. Louis Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s unrealistic the additional assets coming your way will be enough to justify trading him away, as you just made him one of your new alternate captains. At the end of the day, he’s the last half of the Habs’ most effective defensive pairing from their Stanley Cup Final season still left standing.

Related: Canadiens’ Edmundson Set to Return Without Clear Spot in Lineup/

At just 29, Edmundson’s also got plenty of good years left in principle, his injuries from last season notwithstanding. With his contract set to expire in 2024, at least the lion’s share of the next two should come with the Canadiens. Anything else and there had better be a good reason why. Right now, there just isn’t.