With just over a week remaining until the NHL trade deadline, the Montreal Canadiens are constantly in the news with a rumour about a player going elsewhere. This week was no different: the Habs are sitting last in the league, and they have many pieces that contending teams would love to have on an excellent playoff push. Here are the news and rumours from the past week.
Canadiens Getting Calls on Armia
The Canadiens have been getting calls on quite a few players leading up to this season’s trade deadline, and one surprising player is forward Joel Armia. This is a surprise to some because he is not having a good season. Then again, most Hab players are having a bad season, but he is one of the worst on the team, and his contract is relatively high for an underproducing bottom-six player. He makes $3.4 million for the next four seasons, has seven points in 42 games this season and only had 14 points in 41 games last season.
Most general managers (GM), however, are not looking at Armia for what he is doing now, but more so for what he did in last year’s playoffs. He helped the Canadiens reach the Stanley Cup Final with his exceptional penalty killing and defensive game, and he had five goals and eight points in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if Canadiens GM Kent Hughes can move him without retaining money or sending a draft pick with his recent struggles and contract. When it comes to trading Armia, the Habs are not the ones in control of the return.
Canadiens Taking Calls on Drouin
Jonathan Drouin has been out with an injury for the Canadiens since Jan. 26, but this hasn’t stopped playoff-bound teams inquiring after the Habs forward. Drouin has been a subject of controversy since he was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2017 and signed to a six-year, $5.5 million AAV contract. Most fans and media were expecting a 70-point scorer, but instead got an at-times inconsistent 50-point scorer. In the last three seasons, Drouin has been hit with the injury bug and has had long-term injuries. When healthy, he is a highly skilled playmaker, and with his mental health in order, can turn his focus to consistency on the ice.
Last reported in January, the Nashville Predators were interested in Drouin, but that was around the time he got injured. If the interest is still there, it would be interesting to see what the Habs could get back. The Predators are looking to move Filip Forsberg, but the Canadiens would have to add something to the deal if they want to trade Drouin for Forsberg. The Habs probably won’t want to give up any assets to move Drouin with no guarantee that Forsberg signs in Montreal. If Drouin does get moved, Hughes would probably want it to be more of a salary dump and get an expiring salary back or picks and prospects, not give up some to move him.
Hughes Could Move Weber’s Contract
It was suggested earlier last week that some teams looking to reach the salary cap minimum might want to acquire the contract of Canadiens captain Shea Weber. Weber will probably never play hockey again due to multiple injuries he has suffered through the years, but he has four years left on his $7.8 million AAV contract. This would relieve a lot of cap space for the Canadiens while allowing another team to not be below the minimum for the cap.
The bonus for a team picking up Weber’s contract is that they will only have to pay him $6 million for the next four seasons. $3 million next season and then $1 million for each of the remaining three seasons. If a team is at the minimum of the cap, then the $7.8 annual average value (AAV) isn’t that big of a deal, for the Habs to shed that AAV, however, is a huge deal and gives them a ton of room to possibly sign a top free agent (FA) in the offseason.
Canadiens’ Injury Update
The Canadiens have been hit with multiple injuries this season. A lot of players have been missing for numerous weeks, but a few key ones are ready to return. Habs goalie Jake Allen could return this week. Reports indicate he could be prepared as early as Tuesday versus the Arizona Coyotes, but probably more like Thursday against the Dallas Stars. Allen has missed the last eight weeks with a lower-body injury, and the Habs goaltending has struggled almost the entire time he was out.
Christian Dvorak and Drouin have also been practicing with the team. Dvorak could be back as soon as next week, but Drouin has no timeline. Drouin has been out with a wrist injury, and Dvorak with an upper-body injury. After suffering an upper-body injury on Saturday, Kyle Clague was placed on the injured reserve (IR) list.
Carey Price continues to progress in his rehab, and everything is moving in the right direction. There is still no timetable on his return, but rumours suggest maybe early April if there are no setbacks. David Savard is also still progressing with his rehab, and other is no timetable for his return. The Canadiens did get back one key player in Joel Edmundson. He returned Saturday in the Habs game against the Seattle Kraken.
Cedric Paquette was placed on waivers Saturday and cleared Sunday afternoon. He will join the Laval Rocket, and Corey Schueneman was recalled from Laval to replace the injured Clague.
Canadiens Legend Lafleur Named to the Order of Hockey
Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur has been named to the Order of Hockey. Along with Lanny McDonald and Kim St.Pierre, Lafleur is one of the distinguished honorees of 2022. He was named to the order for his charity work and contribution to the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala and Golf event. Lafleur has been battling lung cancer since 2019, and his family made a statement thanking fans for their support as he recently returned home from the hospital.
Next week the Canadiens head into the trade deadline on March 21, and the team could look quite different on the 22. Chariot, for now, is the only player who is almost guaranteed to be moved, but don’t be surprised if more players are moved before or at the deadline.
Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com.Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on JblamSports and JDFSports Podcasts; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.