In this week’s edition of Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, Shea Weber’s contract was almost traded to the Arizona Coyotes at the Trade Deadline, general manager Kent Hughes doesn’t expect to pursue this year’s top free agents and admitted that there are a lot of questions about the future of his team in goal.
Plus, Jake Allen is the Habs’ King Clancy nominee for 2021-22, the latest news surrounding several of Montreal’s top prospects, Tuesday’s Draft Lottery, and the Laval Rocket’s Calder Cup quest.
Arizona Nearly Acquired Weber’s Contract
During a radio interview on TSN 690, Darren Dreger indicated that the Canadiens would have moved Weber’s contract to the Coyotes at the Trade Deadline if it weren’t for “insurance attachments, more paperwork that needed to get done, and some money that needed to be paid.”
Arizona, a team that needs to get the salary cap floor for next season, ultimately made a deal with the Winnipeg Jets to pick up what’s left on Brian Little’s contract.
Hughes has already indicated that he will continue to explore options to trade Weber’s contract and the remaining four years on it. It wouldn’t be surprising if this is an offseason priority and one of the first player personnel moves the Habs make this offseason.
Habs Likely Won’t be in on Big-Name Free Agents
Hughes did the media rounds over the past week and addressed many interesting topics in the process. Given their salary cap situation and management’s desire to continue their renovation of the roster, he doesn’t expect to be in a position to go after the big-name free agents on the market this summer.
The general manager did say that he would like to replace Jeff Petry with a veteran defender if he is traded which will probably add fuel to the fire with regards to the ongoing Kris Letang to Montreal rumors, but it’s hard to see a scenario where they could make a signing like that work.
Hughes also believes that none of the goaltenders currently in the organization, other than Carey Price, have proven that they can be no. 1 netminders in the NHL. Fans interpreted this comment in many ways, but it just likely means that Price’s successor is not with the team yet. Sure, Allen can take on the role in the short-term until his contract expires at the end of next season if Price is unfit to play, but likely isn’t the long-term solution.
Allen Nominated for King Clancy
Allen has been named the Canadiens’ nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to a player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. He earned the honor for his charity work both in his home province of New Brunswick as well as in the Montreal area.
Saku Koivu was the last Habs player to win the award in 2007 after beating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and raising funds through his foundation. to purchase the first PET/CT scanner in Montreal.
A Prospects Update
USA Hockey announced that Sean Farrell and Jordan Harris will play for Team USA in the 2022 IIHF World Championship beginning Friday in Finland. Farrell represented his country at the Olympic Winter Olympic Games in Beijing earlier this year while Harris last suited up for his country at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. Hughes and Executive Vice President Jeff Gorton will also be heading to Finland to continue scouting ahead of the NHL Entry Draft. Josh Anderson will also be there as a member of Team Canada.
Meanwhile, Habs prospect Ty Smilanic, who was acquired from the Florida Panthers in the Ben Chiarot trade, has transferred to the Wisconsin Badgers, the same school where Cole Caufield made a name for himself and won the prestigious Hobey Baker Award last year. Smylanic spent the first two years of his NCAA collegiate career with Quinnipac University.
After finishing seventh in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) scoring with 100 points, forward Riley Kidney has signed his entry-level deal with the Canadiens. The 19-year-old centerman, a second-round pick by the Habs in 2021, put up 30 goals and 70 assists in 66 games with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
What’s Next for the Canadiens?
All eyes will be on Tuesday night’s NHL Draft Lottery when the Canadiens will find out where they will pick with their first selection in this summer’s draft in Montreal. They are already guaranteed a top-3 pick and have a 25% chance of getting the top pick.
On Thursday, the focus will shift to the Laval Rocket and their playoff run in the American Hockey League (AHL). The franchise will host its first postseason game at Place Bell against the Syracuse Crunch. Their North Division best-of-five semifinal series is tied at 1-1 after the teams split the first two games in Syracuse. Mattias Norlinder has joined the Rocket for their playoff push while Cayden Primeau backstopped Laval to its first postseason victory on Saturday with 37 saves.
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.