Canadiens News & Rumours: Dvorak, Trade Watch & More

In this edition of the Montreal Canadiens News & Rumours rundown, the Canadiens loan out a prospect and unveil a new addition to the team. There have been indications that significant trade talks have begun among general manager (GM) Kent Hughes and several of his rival GMs. Also, some veterans have been seen as trade targets. There may be changes in the team’s ownership structure as well.

Canadiens’ Minority Owner Linked to Senators Ownership Bid 

It’s official, the Ottawa Senators are for sale. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun broke the news this past week. The team’s acting NHL governor, Sheldon Plenor had this to say:

Galatioto Sports Partners has been retained as financial advisor and a process has been initiated for the sale of the Ottawa Senators, this was a necessary and prudent step to connect with those deeply interested parties who can show us what their vision is for the future of the team. A condition of any sale will be that the team remains in Ottawa. The organization will have no further comment on this process at this time.

Sheldon Plenor (‘Bruce Garrioch, Its Official the Senators are for Sale and Will Remain in Ottawa’, Ottawa Sun, Nov 14, 2022)

According to Garrioch, Canadiens minority owner, Michael Andlauer, who owns 20 percent of the original NHL franchise, will be in the running to purchase the Senators. What makes this timing sensitive, however, is not the fact he would shift over to a division rival, but that he would be facing major upheaval with his Ontario Hockey League (OHL) franchise, the Hamilton Bulldogs, who will be searching for a new home while their current arena is facing up to two years of renovations. If Andlehour does indeed shift ownership to the rival Senators, it would signal a rare opportunity, as it would provide a chance for the Molson family to take over more stock in the team, or, find a new minority investor, allowing someone else to step in and own a piece of national culture.

Dvorak Trade Rumours  

According to Renaud Lavoie of TVA, Canadiens center, Christian Dvorak has been generating interest from around the league. He has been playing a defensive role and doing it well with nine points in 18 games played despite starting in the defensive zone 62.9 percent of all of his shifts. If he continues to play this defensive center role well, there will be several teams that will line up for his services. Especially since he is a highly capable center in the faceoff circle (55.7% faceoff wins after 18 games played this season). Also, he carries a team-friendly deal with two years remaining at a cap hit of $4.45 million per year. According to Lavoie (translated from French), the Canadiens’ management group won’t let him go easily.

“They won’t give Dvorak away. One way or another, (general manager) Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton won’t give anyone away. Everyone thought that Jeff Petry was going to be traded for a slice of bread, but that didn’t happen, and it will be the same for Dvorak.”

Christian Dvorak Montreal Canadiens
Christian Dvorak, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Dvorak currently provides team captain Nick Suzuki some insulation at center by matching up against some teams’ top lines, eating up time on the penalty-killing units, and being used to take most of the important defensive zone draws. There is always a demand for centers that can play a defensive role while also providing some offense. On a contender, he would be an ideal third-line center, and with the Western Conference looking like the playoff picture will be wide open, and several Eastern Conference teams looking to bolster their lineups in an arms race, the Canadiens are poised for a bidding war that could fetch a return of a first-round pick. 

Canadiens Attracting Attention

According to Marco D’Amico of Montreal Hockey Now, several rival GMs are watching Montreal closely. He mentions that on more than one occasion this season the Canadiens have been watched by some high-ranking officials, some at the very top of their organizational structures. 

Related: Canadiens’ Anderson Can Meet the Flames Scoring Forward Needs

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As he says, it isn’t just a group of scouts, it isn’t even their heads of scouting, the Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, and Vancouver Canucks have all had their GMs and/or assistant GMs attend multiple Canadiens games. Ottawa is currently looking at ways to improve its blue line by targeting veteran right-handed defensemen. The Canadiens have a surplus of veteran defenders that can play on the right side, and players such as David Savard, Joel Edmundson, or even Chris Wideman could be a target.

The Canucks are a team looking for a shakeup as they continue to flounder in the Pacific Division eight points behind the Seattle Kraken for the final divisional playoff position, and the Ducks are looking to give their rebuild a lift, likely looking to add veteran NHL players. They had made a trade for Evgeny Dadonov last season before the league reversed it and returned him to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Canadiens Loan Prospect Out 

Emil Heineman has completed his recovery from the injury sustained in the preseason and has now been loaned to the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) club that retained his European rights, Leksand IF. In his time at training camp this season, the winger showed why Hughes wanted him to be part of the Tyler Toffoli trade to the Calgary Flames. In his debut with Leksand, he showed flashes of that level of play, but also some rust. 

Allowing him to finish off the remainder of the season in Europe, with a full summer training, would be ideal for Heineman’s development. Once the 2023-24 season’s training camp opens, he should be fully prepared to make the jump to playing in North America, likely with the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League (AHL). There’s no reason to expect otherwise as the Habs have thus far been focused on patience in regard to player development under the new management regime.

Testing the Canadiens Metal 

The Canadiens have continued with a newfound focus on fan outreach with the creation of their own mascot, named METAL!. The “!” is part of the name, just as it is with the current Canadiens (former Montreal Expos) mascot, Youppi!. The club has confirmed that METAL! will be the unofficial official mascot for all of this season’s Reverse Retro games. 

There is a new direction with fan interaction, and this fun addition proves that. METAL! was introduced to the public in a novel fashion, by bringing him out for a Steel Panther concert at the Bell Center. The Canadiens, being the NHL’s elder statesman, has a reputation for being stuffy, and it was a well-earned one. But to unveil him at the show of a comedic glam rock band shows a different path is being taken.

As the Canadiens continue to surprise with a .500 record so far in the 2022-23 season, it means that there will be more news to keep up with, so keep an eye on THW’s coverage of the Montreal Canadiens for all your hockey needs. This includes THW’s affiliated podcast Habs Unfiltered for the latest Canadiens news, notes, and rumours.

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