In this week’s edition of Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, former player agent Kent Hughes is introduced as the 18th general manager in franchise history, the team will have a captain on the ice next season, and goaltender Jake Allen is expected to miss eight weeks.
Plus, teams are calling about Jonathan Drouin and Artturi Lehkonen’s availability on the trade market while both Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli have expressed their desire to stay with the Habs through this next chapter with new management.
Hughes Wants an Offensive-Minded Team
The new GM made a strong first impression during his introductory press conference on Wednesday. Despite living away from Quebec for some time, the Montreal native who grew up in the Beaconsfield area on the West Island has kept up his French.
Hughes envisions the Canadiens as an offensive-minded club that plays fast with the puck and is a possession team. He also spoke about establishing a culture throughout the organization and an environment people want to be part of. He stressed the importance of a modern approach to team-building with a focus on analytics as a learning tool and player development. All key points and music to the ears of Habs fans.
Canadiens Will Have a Captain Next Season
In an interview with TSN 690, Hughes confirmed that the team will have a captain on the ice next season. In the absence of current captain Shea Weber and Carey Price, the Habs have been lacking leadership in a big way in 2021-22.
Given that it’s highly unlikely that Weber will return, there are several players on the current roster who would be good candidates to assume the role including Brendan Gallagher, Joel Edmundson, Toffoli, and Nick Suzuki.
Allen Out Eight Weeks
Just as the Habs were starting to get healthy again, the team announced that Allen will be out eight weeks with a lower-body injury which he suffered on Jan. 12 against the Boston Bruins.
To make matters worse, Samuel Montembeault is also dealing with a wrist injury that will require further evaluation to determine its severity. This means that Cayden Primeau and Michael McNiven, the usual duo with the Laval Rocket in the American Hockey League, will be between the pipes in Montreal for the time being.
Meanwhile, Drouin has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Drouin and Lehkonen Garnering Trade Interest
With just under two months to go before the Trade Deadline, several Habs players find themselves in the rumor mill with Montreal firmly established as a seller.
It is well-known that defenseman Ben Chiarot is one of the top trade targets, but it appears that Drouin and Lehkonen are popular commodities as well. According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, Drouin is drawing interest and indicated that Hughes could receive calls about the forward’s availability.
Similarly, Frank Seravalli of the Daily Faceoff, mentioned on his podcast that he believes Lehkonen is the player most in demand on the Canadiens. Teams view him as this year’s version of Blake Coleman and are hot on his trail. While Lehkonen is very valuable to the Habs, it appears they might get an offer they can’t refuse to move him.
Anderson and Toffoli Want to Stay
With all the speculation circulating about which Habs will be traded and who will be kept under the new regime, veterans Anderson and Toffoli have both indicated that they would like to stay in Montreal. They are players who could easily fit into the team’s new culture.
Anderson, who signed a seven-year deal when he was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2020 offseason, is a power forward that has been sorely lacking on the roster for a long time. He’s still young, can grow along with the team’s top prospects while also adding a dimension of speed and power to the Canadiens’ offence that will fit the style that Hughes wants them to play.
“I love it here in Montreal, I signed a long-term deal for a reason to stay in Montreal and to win here,” Anderson said.
Toffoli carries one of the team’s most friendly contracts and will likely be a popular guy on the trade market if he gets there. However, his leadership, reliable production, and obvious chemistry with Suzuki are surely valuable assets to the Canadiens so it will be interesting to see what they decide to do with their leading scorer from last season.
“Whatever direction they feel that they want to go in, I want to be part of it,” Toffoli explained.
What’s Next for the Canadiens?
The Habs wrap up their seven-game road trip on Monday night against the Minnesota Wild after having earned points in four of the six contests so far. They then return home for an extended stay with just two away games on the schedule in February. It is not yet known if fans will be allowed back in the Bell Centre or if more games will be postponed as the result of continued attendance restrictions.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media & Marketing Manager as well as co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.