Canadiens Acquire Armia & Mason From Jets

The Montreal Canadiens have acquired goaltender Steve Mason, forward Joel Armia, a 2019 seventh-round pick and a 2020 fourth-round pick from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for defenseman Simon Bourque, the team announced Saturday morning.

The 25-year-old Armia was a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2011. Though he hasn’t panned out to be a star player at the NHL level, his role as a bottom-six contributor on the right side is something that the Canadiens obviously admired. They’ll need to re-sign him to a contract as he’s set to be a restricted free agent on July 1.

The 30-year-old Mason has fallen off in recent years and was no longer needed on the Jets roster as a starter or as a backup. He only played in 13 games with the Jets in 2017-18 after spending the first nine seasons of his career split between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers. Despite signing a two-year contract just last offseason, the Jets opted to move on from Mason early to clear up cap space.

Joel Armia - Winnipeg Jets
Joel Armia has been traded to the Montreal Canadiens – Winnipeg Jets, Mar. 10, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Canadiens drafted Simon Bourque out of the QMJHL in 2015 with a sixth-round draft selection. Though his point totals in the AHL haven’t been indicative of an NHL talent, there’s much to like about Bourque’s game and he has potential to make an NHL roster one day as a result. While he likely won’t ever be the centerpiece of a team’s defensive group, he still has potential to be a bottom-pairing contributor.

Canadiens and Jets Trending in Opposite Directions

This trade is one that could be indicative of what the Canadiens are planning on doing in 2018-19 with a stacked Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference in front of them. In acquiring Mason, the Canadiens willingly took on his contract and full $4.1 million cap hit for the 2018-19 season (though they are looking to trade him or buy him out, the latter likely being a bad decision by the team) to also acquire a valuable bottom-six player in Armia, as well as two future draft, picks that could be valuable capital during the Habs pseudo-rebuild.

Steve Mason Jets
Winnipeg Jets have traded goalie Steve Mason to the Montreal Canadiens (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

For the Jets, this move could very possibly be the one that allows them to re-sign Paul Stastny to a long-term contract as the team is now left with upwards of $28 million of cap space with decisions to make on Stastny, Marko Dano, Adam Lowry, Jacob Trouba, Joshua Morrissey, Toby Ehnstrom as well as both goaltenders in Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson.

It should be a busy offseason for both teams as the Canadiens and Jets appear to be trending in opposite directions. For the Jets, retaining their key pieces and making a push for the Stanley Cup is the goal. For the Canadiens, the goal of the next few seasons should be to collect assets and build their team up through the draft – a strategy the Jets have used in recent years.