The last couple of weeks have been quite busy for the Montreal Canadiens, and it feels like the offseason with all the rumours and moves being made by management. This week is no different after the Habs traded Tyler Toffoli. Everyone seems available, and is rumoured to be going somewhere. Here is a look at some of the rumours and news from this past week.
Canadiens Have Multiple Teams Interested in Chiarot
Ben Chiarot is a free agent (FA) at the end of the season, and is one of the most sought-after left-handed defensemen in the league. Although he doesn’t stand out as a highly offensive-defenseman, his play in last year’s Stanley Cup run by the Canadiens has playoff teams salivating for his services, wanting him to help their team go deep in the playoffs. Chiarot is a rugged stay-at-home defenceman who provides grit and rigor in front of the net.
The Canadiens won’t part with Chiarot without a significant offer coming back. The rumoured asking price is a first and a prospect, and several teams are lining up to see if their request will be enough. The frontrunners are the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers, however, the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Los Angeles Kings are also in the bidding war. The Maple Leafs are probably out after acquiring Ilya Lyubushkin from the Arizona Coyotes this week. All the heat is around the Blues and Rangers to make a deal with the Habs for Chiarot, and it should happen long before the March 21 trade deadline.
Canadiens Lehkonen Getting Interest from Rangers and Other Teams
Artturi Lehkonen is another Habs player who teams are interested in, due to his defensive play. Lehkonen would be an asset to any team that wants to make a Stanley Cup run. He is the best defensive forward on the Canadiens and is also one of the better defensive wingers in the league. Lehkonen is a restricted free agent, and if traded, any team getting him will be able to control his contract another season.
The front runner for Lehkonen is the New York Rangers. They are looking for someone to replace Sam Blais, who is injured and one of their better defensive forwards. Lehkonen could be shopped with Chiarot in a package deal to bring the Habs a first-round pick and two quality prospects. One prospect that could go back to the Canadiens, whether it’s just for Lehkonen or in a package, is Russian Vitali Kravtsov, who was drafted by Habs Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations (VPHO) Geoff Gorton. At the time, Gorton was the Rangers’ general manager (GM).
Canadiens Petry Drawing Intrest From Teams But Could Stay Until Offseason
Defenseman Jeff Petry is having a horrible year for the Canadiens. After four straight 40-point seasons, he is on pace to barely get 20, and looks very disinterested on the ice. This could be due to outside factors — his wife and children have moved to Michigan because of the Quebec government curfews due to COVID. Petry is very close to his family, and his struggles could result from not being with them. He has not formally asked for a trade, but Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has said if a deal works for both Petry and the team, they will make it.
The Dallas Stars have shown interest in Petry, and they have been rumoured to be shopping John Klingberg, who is a UFA after this season. The Detroit Red Wings are another team that has an interest, and it would bring Petry back to his home state of Michigan. The Red Wings, however, probably don’t want Petry’s $6.25 million contract for the next four seasons, as they are also in the middle of a rebuild. Petry has been playing much better since the Habs replaced former coach Dominic Ducharme with Martin St-Louis; he has four points in his last five games since the coaching change.
There is no rush from the Canadiens to trade Petry before or at the Trade Deadline; with his play being better now, the Canadiens could be better off waiting until the offseason, where Petry’s value could be higher. League GMs will look at this season as a one-off, and base any trade on Petry’s history.
Canadiens Hire Vincent Lecavalier and Nick Bobrov
The Canadiens have hired Vincent Lecavalier and scout Nick Bobrov to their management team. Lecavalier was hired as a special advisor to hockey operations, and Bobrov as co-director of amateur scouting. Lecavalier played 17 seasons, winning one Stanley Cup with the Tampa Lightning in 2004, and collecting 949 points in 1212 games.
Bobrov will co-direct the Canadiens’ amateur scouting alongside Martin Lapointe. Bobrov was the head of European scouting under Gorton with the Rangers from 2015-21, and he held the same position with the Boston Bruins when Gorton was there as Assistant GM from 2001-06. Gorton and Hughes surround themselves with people they know to move the Canadiens into a new direction and restore this storied franchise to Stanley Cup glory.
Trois-Rivieres Offered Poulin a Contract
Canadiens ECHL affiliate, the Trois-Rivieres Lions, have offered Canadian Olympic Gold medalist Marie-Philip Poulin a contract to play with their club for the rest of the season. Poulin just won her third gold medal at the Winter Olympics, and became the only person, male or female, to score in four different Olympic gold medal games. Three of her four goals are game-winners.
Canadiens’ Caufield Sparked After Being Coached by His Idol
Cole Caufield was a massive fan of Canadiens head coach St. Louis when he was a kid, and St. Louis still played in the NHL. St-Louis had a Hall of Fame career and inspired smaller players to play in the NHL. At only 5-foot-8, St-Louis had a job where he won a Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player (MVP), a Stanley Cup and scored 1033 points in 1134 games.
Caufield is only 5-foot-7, and wore St. Louis’s number 26 until he played for Wisconsin in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Before St.Louis became coach of the Habs, Caufield struggled with only one goal on the season, playing on the fourth line and had a stint with the Laval Rocket in the American Hockey League (AHL). Since the coaching change, Caufield has scored four goals and five points in the last five games while playing on the top line. Whether it was being coached by his idol or the increased minutes, Caufield has finally found his game and is playing like the player the Canadiens drafted in 2019.
With the trade deadline three weeks away, the Canadiens look pretty busy, and the rumours will keep spreading on social media on who will go where. The Habs have a few players becoming FAs, and they will want to move most of them and get some return for them if they can. Chris Wideman, Brett Kulak, Mathieu Perrault, and Cedric Paquette will all be FAs next season, although some have more value than others. If the Canadiens can get something back for any of them, it will be a win.
That’s the rumours and news for this week. Follow the Hockey Writers for all your NHL rumours and information leading up to this year’s trade 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.