We are less than a week away from the NHL Entry Draft and the rumors surrounding the Montreal Canadiens are starting to heat up. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has proven he is not afraid to pull the trigger on a big trade near the draft. Given the Habs’ need to improve, don’t be shocked if he does it again this year. Recently, the Canadiens have been linked to young, skilled defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere from the Philadelphia Flyers and veteran defenseman Nick Leddy of the New York Islanders.
The price for a quality player such as these two would not be cheap. The conversation would likely start with the Canadiens’ 15th overall pick in this year’s draft, but if they want to ensure they make the playoffs next season, they should consider it. Let’s take a look at players the Canadiens have been rumored to be interested in and what it might take to acquire them.
Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
Many Habs fans were surprised when trade rumors started to circulate that the Canadiens and Flyers were in conversation about a potential trade that would send Gostisbehere to Montreal. He is just one season removed from putting up 65 points, but struggled with consistency this season. The American defender only picked up 37 points in 2018-19 and was a healthy scratch at one point. Gostisbehere would be the perfect fit to play alongside Shea Weber, but what would it cost to acquire him?
The Flyers are reported to have interest in Canadiens wingers Andrew Shaw and Paul Byron. As much as Canadiens fans would love for Bergevin to package both players to acquire Gostisbehere, it would cost a lot more. To make this deal, the team would probably need to offer either Shaw or Byron (or both), the 15th overall pick, and a young defense prospect like Noah Juulsen.
Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks
Bergevin has been interested in the Ducks’ 27-year-old, 6-foot-2 blueliner for several seasons now, and with the Canadiens needing a left shot more than ever, the interest hasn’t gone away. Anaheim struggled last season, finishing 24th in the standings, and are looking to make changes to their roster. They have reportedly been calling teams about veteran winger Corey Perry. The 34-year-old was injured for most of this season and carries a cap hit of $8.625 million with two years left on his deal.
Similar to what I stated in a previous article (about the Canadiens taking on other teams’ bad contracts for additional assets), perhaps taking on Perry’s contract would make the price for acquiring Fowler less costly. Still, I think the Canadiens would need to cut ties with their 15th overall pick and one young roster player if they are interested in Fowler. I also think both Fowler and Perry are the type of players Bergevin admires (size, physicality and character).
T.J. Brodie/ Travis Hamonic, Calgary Flames
Both of these players’ names have been floating around the rumor mill, and either one would be a great addition for the Habs’ roster. The Flames are close to the cap ceiling and due to a poor playoff performance, would like to shake up their roster. T.J. Brodie is great at carrying the puck, would slot in next to Weber, and would help the power play. To acquire him, the Habs would need to send Calgary their first-round pick and a depth roster player.
Calgary acquired Hamonic from the Islanders for a handful of high draft picks in 2017, but because they have a deep blue line, are up against the cap, and have some solid young defensive prospects ready to play in the NHL, he could be expendable. Hamonic is the opposite of Brodie and the other defenders mentioned so far. He is a defensive defenseman and plays the right side.
This move would further strengthen the Canadiens’ right side and wouldn’t cost as much as the other players (something along the lines of two second-round draft picks or a second-round pick and a defense prospect). Of course, Brodie being a left shot and more offensive would make him the more ideal fit of the two.
Nick Leddy, New York Islanders
Out of all the potential trade scenarios thus far, this one makes the most sense. Bergevin has been linked to Leddy in the past and is familiar with him from their mutual time with the Chicago Blackhawks. Leddy is a solid two-way defenseman but brings some offense (especially in transitioning). Like some of the other defensemen discussed, he would be an ideal candidate as Weber’s partner, would help the power play, and might not cost the Canadiens the 15th overall pick.
The Islanders are reportedly looking to free up some cap space to be more aggressive come July 1 and would accept picks and prospects in return for Leddy. The Canadiens could use a prospect like Juulsen and a couple draft picks beyond the first round to get this deal done.
I was going to suggest that the Canadiens could be interested in Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ollie Maatta, but he was traded on Sunday night to the Blackhawks. Instead, I will focus on another Penguins defender, Kris Letang. He is from Montreal, is an offensive defenseman, and is reportedly being shopped around.
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins were swept in the first round of the 2019 Playoffs, and their general manager, Jim Rutherford is looking to make big changes. He has already shipped out Maatta and has continuously attempted to trade Phil Kessel. It seems just about anyone on their roster could be made available who’s name is not Sidney Crosby. Despite being right handed, Letang would fit nicely in the Canadiens’ top four.
Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets
Trouba is probably the most unlikely candidate on my list, but has been linked to trade rumors and is a player the Canadiens would love to have. He is also the player who would potentially cost the Canadiens the most to acquire in terms of assets, but the 6-foot-3 right-handed blueliner would fill a hole on their roster.
The Jets need to free up salary and Trouba has shown interest in being traded in the past. For the Canadiens to acquire him, it could cost something along the lines of the 15th overall pick, center Philip Danault, and Juulsen. It’s a price tag I am not sure Bergevin is willing to pay.
The Canadiens will have plenty of trade options heading into the draft this Friday. As mentioned, if Bergevin pulls off another significant trade, I see Leddy making the most sense for the Canadiens by filling a hole on the left side of their defense at a lower cost. He would immediately improve the team and Bergiven might be able to hang on to the 15th overall pick. If Bergevin decides to go after a player of Trouba, Gostisbehere, or Fowler’s caliber, fans would likely have to wait until the second round of the draft to hear the Canadiens select a player.