4 Canadiens Players Who Could Be Traded Soon

With Joel Edmundson returning to the lineup, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in a challenging situation roster-wise. Fortunately for them, Evgenii Dadonov was put on injured reserve (IR) with a virus on the day Edmundson was activated for play, temporarily giving the Habs some space.

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However, Dadonov is due back next week, and to keep the team at the 23-man maximum, a move will have to be made – Montreal would prefer a trade than to send a young player to the Laval Rocket. Here is a look at some Canadiens players that could be moved within the next week or so.

1. Jonathan Drouin

Jonathan Drouin has been a polarizing player since he was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning for top prospect Mikhail Sergachev. Sergachev has gone on to develop into a top-four defender, winning two Stanley Cups, while Drouin has not lived up to expectations and has been injured for most of his tenure in Montreal. Drouin is in the last year of his contract of $5.5 million and will be a free agent (FA) at the end of the season. You would expect him to come out flying this season and do whatever it takes to earn a good contract for next season but that hasn’t been the case so far. He has only two points and has been in regular rotation as a healthy scratch on game days.

Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens
Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

There probably isn’t a high demand for Drouin, but he could be effective on a team with good secondary scoring. If general manager (GM) Kent Hughes can work out a deal with a team like the Colorado Avalanche or Washington Capitals, he could probably find a good fit for Drouin. Hughes is in a tight position, and the other GMs know it; odds are he will have to eat some of Drouin’s salary, which wouldn’t be all that bad because it will come off the books at the end of the season.

2. Evgenii Dadonov

Dadonov was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights for former captain Shea Weber’s contract. There were expectations for the annual 20-goal scorer that he could see once again score at a 20-goal pace and fetch a good return at the deadline because, like Drouin, he too is on an expiring contract. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, he has yet to score a point in eight games this season and is now on the IR with a mysterious virus, but he is due back soon and could find himself with a new organization when he does return.

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Dadonov is an outstanding defensive forward who has averaged 24 goals a season over an 82-game schedule so far in his career. Since he has been playing in Montreal, he hasn’t scored a single point, and his possession numbers have hurt, dropping to a Corsi of 41.8 percent, his previous low for an entire season being 56.4 percent. Why his numbers have dropped off with the Habs is unknown, but a change of scenery is probably needed for both the player and the team. With the Capitals losing Conner Brown for most of the season, Dadonov could take his spot in Washington with the hopes he returns to his former self in a new city.

3. Mike Hoffman

Mike Hoffman was brought into the Canadiens organization to help a floundering power play (PP) and to provide more offence for the team. Last season he didn’t help in either capacity; he scored a career-low of 15 goals with only 11 PP points. He carries a lot of offensive skill and has a tremendous shot, but for some reason, it doesn’t work in Montreal. What makes his lack of offence worse is that he is deficient at defending and pretty one-dimensional, so if he can’t score or support, he is a liability on the ice. He has only two points this season in 10 games and, like Drouin, is falling out of favour with the fans and coaching staff.

Mike Hoffman Montreal Canadiens
Mike Hoffman, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Hoffman will be harder to move: he still has a year left on his contract at $4.5 million and although he is cheaper than Dadonov or Drouin, their expiring contracts are more accessible for other clubs to take on than one with some term remaining. Hoffman needs skilled players on his line to support him, and right now with the Habs, he isn’t playing with high enough skilled players to be effective. He would be better off on a team who needs to add a scorer to their secondary scoring to complete a solid line. With Sean Couturier out for an extended period with the Philadelphia Flyers, there could be a spot for him in Philly, but will he get along with head coach John Tortorella, or will Torts even want him?

4. Chris Wideman

With Edmundson’s return, Chris Wideman finds himself as one of the odd men out on the defence. He is only one of two right-handed defencemen on the team, but head coach Martin St. Louis wants his young defenders to play, which means he will be sitting in the press box more often than not. He came over from the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), where he was the highest-scoring defenceman in the league; he signed with Montreal last season at league minimum and had a reasonably successful season last year. He had a career-high of 27 points and was a bright spot on Montreal’s horrendous PP.

Chris Wideman Montreal Canadiens
Chris Wideman, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Wideman re-signed this season at league minimum for the next two years and has played mainly third-pairing minutes with PP time. Now that Edmundson is back and Mike Matheson is returning in a few weeks, there will be an eight-man logjam on the blue line, and someone will have to go. The young guys, Jordan Harris, Arber Xhekaj, Kaiden Guhle and Jonathan Kovacevic, have all played well and earned their ice time; it will be hard to justify putting one of them in Laval when Matheson returns. With Wideman’s cheap contract and ability to play well offensively, he could be a good target for trade and free up the room, so no one has to go down to the Rocket.

The Canadiens are discerning regarding their roster. One would think they were not expecting the young players to play so well to start the season, and could therefore quickly free up the room with a waiver move. Now they see their potential and realize that they are ready for the NHL now and not later, which is an excellent problem to have but makes it difficult to move players, especially ones that are underperforming. If a move can’t be made, someone will have to go on waivers and don’t be surprised if it’s one of these players that were mentioned above and not a waiver-exempt rookie.

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