Now that the 2021-22 NHL season is about to end with the Stanley Cup Final set to get underway, offseason chatter has picked up considerably and the Montreal Canadiens appear to be right in the thick of the conversation.
After linking up to complete a deal at the Trade Deadline centring around defenceman Brett Kulak, the Habs and Edmonton Oilers could very well be trade partners yet again this summer.
Oilers Reportedly Interested in Anderson
Bob Stauffer recently mentioned on “Oilers Now” that Josh Anderson would be a suitable replacement for Evander Kane if they are unable to bring back the pending unrestricted free agent who proved to be a great fit in the team’s top-six. He brought a combination of speed, size, and skill that was missing from the Oilers’ forward group. Anderson can provide those same elements on a cheaper contract than the one Kane is likely to fetch in free agency.
Frank Seravalli included the 28-year-old on his first list of the Top 25 offseason trade targets this summer, indicating that general manager Kent Hughes’ phone has been ringing constantly with his colleagues inquiring about the power forward’s availability. So far, he has resisted the temptation, but he may be presented with an offer he can’t refuse over the next few weeks. Power forwards are hard to come by and many teams are willing to pay a premium price to land one.
It is believed that Hughes would want a player like 2021 first-round pick Xavier Bourgault to be part of a potential deal for Anderson. Bourgault just won the QMJHL title with the Shawinigan Cataractes and will play in the Memorial Cup beginning next week. The 19-year-old put up 12 goals and 10 assists in 16 games during Shawinigan’s playoff run after tallying 75 points in 43 regular season contests.
While the Oilers and general manager Ken Holland probably aren’t keen on giving up Bourgault, there are other players and draft capital that may be of interest to both teams which would make a trade between the two more plausible.
More Possible Targets for the Habs
Given that both the Canadiens and Oilers are tight against the cap with little room to maneuver, salary would, in most scenarios, need to be moved both ways for a deal to work.
Tyson Barrie, another top trade candidate this offseason, would be of interest to the Habs if they do indeed trade Jeff Petry. Hughes has already made it clear that he will be replaced by a veteran right-shot defenseman who can play a top-four role and Barrie certainly fits that profile. He has two years remaining at a reasonable $4.5 million cap hit which would set up a nice transition plan until some of the team’s young defensive prospects are ready to assume bigger roles. He’s a solid puck-moving defenceman who can become the much-needed power play quarterback that has eluded the Canadiens since Andrei Markov retired. He would also be a less expensive option than Kris Letang who is seen by many as a good fit in Montreal.
Jesse Puljujärvi’s future in Edmonton is uncertain, especially after struggling to establish himself in the postseason. The 24-year-old former first-round pick is a restricted free agent eligible for arbitration. He put up 14 goals and 36 points in 65 regular season games. His offensive creativity and playmaking abilities would complement Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield on Montreal’s top line. Plus, there is some yet-to-be-seen potential that could be tapped into playing with two players of their calibre. He could be a long-term solution as well given management’s desire to add youth, skill, and speed. Either Puljujärvi or Barrie would make sense in a package for Anderson.
In addition to Anderson, the Oilers might check in on Jake Allen to help solve their goaltending woes, but the Habs will want to hang onto him if Carey Price’s future continues to be precarious. Edmonton currently holds just four picks in the upcoming NHL draft so the Habs can certainly lend them a hand in that department with their 14 selections.
If a trade does materialize between these two teams, there are several players and future assets that can be included in the deal which would benefit both sides next season and beyond. Given the opportunities to improve their respective rosters, it’s safe to assume that Hughes and Holland will have each other on speed dial this summer.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media & Marketing Manager as well as co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.