Canadiens News & Rumors: Lehkonen, Petry, Price & More

In this week’s Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, we’ll break down yet another wild week in Montreal. After spending half a season unable to win two in a row, head coach Martin St. Louis has the Habs on a five-game winning streak. Despite that, there was no slowing down the rumor mill, with several trade rumors swirling around some Canadiens veterans. Plus, some additions to the front office are being made.

Price Update

We’ll begin with Carey Price. The Canadiens’ vice president of communications, Chantal Machabée, announced early last week that there would be an update on his progress by Friday, Feb. 25.

His off-ice workout is progressing well, he’s doing better, [but] he won’t be on the ice this upcoming week.

Chantal Machabée (from ‘Stu Cowan, Montreal Gazette, Canadiens Goalie Carey Price Won’t Skate for Another Week’, Montreal Gazette, 25 Feb 2022)

This is a new approach to adding transparency within the organization that she has ushered in, as she’s providing much more context for the club’s decisions than ever before.

Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This season’s knee issues are giving Canadiens fans a case of déja-vu. Despite this transparency, it doesn’t lessen the skepticism they have when it comes to Price’s knee injuries after he missed the entire 2015-16 season. Price’s comments show a player who wants to return this season as well.

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“It’s always been my goal ever since I got back here, I’ve had a couple of setbacks that weren’t foreseen. It’s been a frustrating process, no doubt. But, at the end of the day, I got to take care of it, and moving forward, I’m starting to skate again so hopefully, I’ll keep on progressing and be able to get back in a uniform pretty soon,” Carey Price said to Stu Cowan (from ‘Stu Cowan, Questions Remain About Carey Price’s Future with the Canadiens, Montreal Gazette’, 31 Jan 2022).

Fans are all hoping for a full recovery so that he can return to his top form again.

John Sedgwick Named Assistant General Manager

John Sedgwick has been the salary cap specialist in the Canadiens organization for years. This past week, general manager (GM) Kent Hughes promoted him to the role of assistant general manager (AGM).

The new management team has been working to modernize the organization’s approach to advanced analytics, and Sedgwick will play a major role in heading up the department.

“I think if you replaced it with information, you would find very few people would object with analytics,” John Sedgwick said. “I’m a believer in information, I’m a believer in processes. It’s not to say that we had bad processes, but I think it’s always something you should be trying to improve, and I think that’s modern thinking.” (from ‘Arpon Basu, The Canadiens are Finally Entering the Information Age in Many Different Ways’, The Athletic, 24 Feb 2022)

Related: Canadiens Must Modernize Their Defence

Modern thinking is the new catchphrase in Montreal and will continue until Hughes has his entire staff in place. Fans will likely have to wait for this summer to see how Hughes staff the scouting, analytics, and development departments.

Lehkonen a Trade Target

Trade rumors around Artturi Lehkonen have been swirling for some time. Teams in search of an upgrade for their third line and penalty-killing units would likely target him, as he would be a perfect fit for that role on a contending team. He is a low-maintenance player that provides a consistent effort and style on every shift.

Teams love how responsible and tenacious he is, how he plays just about every facet of the game the “right” way – except for score. He is a coach’s dream with his work rate and effort.

Frank Seravalli

It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Hughes to demand a first-round pick, possibly even more, in return for the 26-year-old left-winger. Contending teams have paid that high a price to acquire this type of player in the past, namely the Tampa Bay Lightning with the Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman trades during the last few trade deadlines.

Canadiens New Development Hire

Part of modernizing the Canadiens will include changes to the development program in the Habs’ system. According to Eric Engels of Sportsnet, the team is close to doing just that.

If you’re looking for good news on the player development front, hiring Adam Nicholas in a player development role would fit that bill. He is currently working in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization as a consultant in their skills development program and has ties to Jeff Gorton, as he worked as a skills coach with the New York Rangers during Gorton’s time there as a GM.

Joshua Roy Lighting up the QMJHL 

Speaking of player development, in the Sherbrooke Phoenix game on Feb. 26, Joshua Roy had a six-point night in their 9-1 victory over their Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) rivals, Victoriaville Tigres.

The Habs’ 2021 fifth-round pick has 12 points in his last three games and now leads the QMJHL with 73 points in 37 games. This places the 19-year-old left-winger on pace for 137 points in a full 66-game season. Roy has only recently begun to really understand the impact his training and off-ice discipline can have on his development. Seeing a giant leap forward not only in his production but also in his maturity, it is only a matter of time before the Canadiens sign him to his entry-level contract (ELC), even though they have until June 1, 2023.

Philadelphia Showing Montreal Brotherly Love?

Elliotte Friedman linked Jeff Petry with the Philadelphia Flyers in his most recent 32 Thoughts column. Since St. Louis was brought in as the interim head coach, Petry’s play has improved drastically. In eight games, the Michigan native has five points (two goals, three assists), and his resurgent play has likely shown interested teams he is still capable of playing the level of hockey he had shown over the last five seasons.

Jeff Petry Montreal Canadiens
Jeff Petry, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Following the 2021-22 season, Petry has three years remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $6.25 million. For a trade to work between these two teams, it’s likely better to wait for the offseason when Philadelphia will have close to $14 million in cap space. If the return is a first and/or a high-end prospect, then there should be no doubt Hughes will pull the trigger on a trade that allows Petry to play in the USA.

With the Canadiens’ roster beginning to look like an NHL team again as players return off the COVID protocol lists, keep an eye on our THW Podcast Network for all your hockey needs, as well as THW’s affiliated podcast Habs Unfiltered for the latest Canadiens news, notes, and rumors.

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