Oilers Should Not Trade Bourgault for Canadiens’ Monahan

The Montreal Canadiens visited the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 3 at Rogers Place. The Canadiens tied the game late in the middle frame, but Darnell Nurse scored the go-ahead goal with five seconds left in the second period and Edmonton held on to win 5-3. At the same time, an interesting conversation took place off the ice. During the broadcast, Dany Dubé, a Quebec sports columnist who covers Canadiens’ games on 98.5 FM in Montreal, and who also works for RDS, the sister station to TSN, mentioned an interesting trade scenario involving Canadiens’ forward Sean Monahan.

During the second intermission, he spoke on 98.5 FM, the initial message was spoken in French, but he mentioned that there are three teams interested in Monahan — the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Oilers.

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According to Dubé, Oilers’ prospect Xavier Bourgault has piqued the interest of Canadiens’ general manager Kent Hughes. He mentioned the former 22nd overall draft pick from the 2021 NHL Draft could be a key piece in a possible trade that sends Monahan to Edmonton, and that the teams may have had discussions already. However, if this tidbit of information is true, should the Oilers trade their prized prospect Bourgault for Monahan, whose contract expires at the end of this season?

Oilers Should Not Trade Bourgault for Monahan

Monahan was originally drafted by the Calgary Flames sixth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. He spent nine seasons in the organization, yet after registering 82 points in 78 games in the 2018-19 campaign, his offensive game declined thereafter. After tallying 23 points in 65 games with the Flames last season, he was traded for a conditional first-round pick and future considerations to the Canadiens, and Calgary was able to offload his $6.375 million cap hit.

Sean Monahan Montreal Canadiens
Sean Monahan, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Yet, Monahan is having a bounce-back season with the Canadiens. The Hockey Writers’ Melissa Boyd describes that he has resurrected his career in Montreal and has quickly become one of the Habs’ most valuable assets, both off the ice and on, saying:

“He plays with great attention to detail, can see plays develop, and find his teammates thanks to his vision as well as his ability to slow the game down. He’s intelligent with the puck and not afraid to hold onto it to give himself a few more seconds to make the right read. Not to mention that his newly healthy hips are allowing him to play with good pace once again.”

– Melissa Boyd

To add to that, according to hockey analyst Pierre LeBrun, Monahan’s improvement has the Canadiens mulling over whether to re-sign or trade the centerman, with how well he’s fitting in with the club. Still, he ultimately believes Monahan will be moved by the trade deadline.  

Why Shouldn’t the Oilers Trade Bourgault for Monahan?

Monahan’s 17 points in 25 games this season put him on a 56-point pace and some notable players he’s played the most minutes against are Sidney Crosby (15:37), Jake Guentzel (15:33), Rickard Rackell, and Kirill Kaprizov (12:25). He’s also excelling in the faceoff circle at 55.5 percent on the season and according to Natural Stat Trick, the underlying analytics show he has a 59.29 Corsi per 60 minutes (CF/60) and a 2.71 expected goals for per 60 (xGF/60). With so many positives, why shouldn’t the Oilers trade Bourgault for his services?

Firstly, the Canadiens’ forward is dealing with a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated soon. Yet, for the sake of the article, let’s look at this from the perspective of when he gets healthy. On paper, it seems like he would be a good fit as the Oilers’ third-line center for the playoff push, but it would be a steep price to move such a promising prospect like Bourgault for him. Perhaps if the scenario was that Monahan was signed for another two to three years at a very cap-friendly contract say, in the $2 million per season range, then it would be mildly worth considering. Yet, as it stands now, he has a $6.375 million cap hit and would essentially be a rental as his contract expires after this season.  

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Additional reasons the Oilers should not trade Bourgault for Monahan are a) if Edmonton were to move such a highly valued prospect, it should be in a package deal for a stud defenseman for their blue line, because as TSN’s Craig Button describes, their back end simply isn’t good enough, and b) the Oilers could find another centerman that produces points, is good at faceoffs, and is on an expiring contract at a much cheaper cost, such as Max Domi from the Chicago Blackhawks.

At the same time, this isn’t the first instance that we’ve heard of Montreal’s interest in the Quebec-born Bourgault. Oilers’ colour commentator Bob Stauffer has mentioned on “Oilers Now” on several occasions the connection between Edmonton and Montreal, as Bourgault has also been mentioned in trade talks for power forward, Josh Anderson.

Bourgault Could Provide Secondary Scoring for Oilers

The Oilers should be more inclined to hang onto Bourgault, because they, and successful NHL teams in general, need cheap secondary scoring on entry-level deals, and the right-handed prospect has the potential to provide exactly that. Edmonton has two other right-handed forwards currently in their lineup that haven’t lived up to expectations. Jesse Puljujarvi hasn’t taken the next step and has regressed offensively, and Kailer Yamamoto, who’s battled injuries, hasn’t yet found the groove that made him a 20-goal scorer last season.

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Because of that, a player like Bourgault becomes even more important to have in the pipeline. He was a standout in junior, scoring 206 points in 197 games with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), helped his team win the QMJHL title, and he’s showing promise in his first campaign as a pro. Through 21 American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Bakersfield Condors, he’s scored seven goals and added four assists. Also, he has a high complete level to go along with his high hockey IQ, which leads many Oilers fans to believe that he’ll be able to bury pucks off the passes of either Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl in the near future.

Related: Oilers Linked to Canadiens Defenseman, But Trade Price Is Steep

Overall, I’m not saying Bourgault shouldn’t be dealt at all, but if general manager Ken Holland is considering it, it has to be the right trade and a deal for Monahan doesn’t make sense from Edmonton’s perspective. However, if Montreal really wants Bourgault, Holland must ask for one of the Canadiens’ young defensemen, and that conversation should start with former Edmonton Oil King, Kaiden Guhle.

Would Sean Monahan be a good fit on the Oilers? If so, should they give up Xavier Bourgault for him? Have your say in the comments below!

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