The NHL season so far has seen very few trades but the Montreal Canadiens changed that when it was announced that they acquired forward prospect Lucas Lessio from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Christian Thomas. A 6′ 1″ 212 LBS left winger, Lessio has been a productive AHLer so far in his professional career but has yet to crack the NHL full time.
Who is Lucas Lessio?
A former Oshawa General like Thomas, Lessio is younger, bigger and has put up better numbers at the AHL level than Thomas. Lessio’s skill set is more well-rounded and he skates well for his size. Montreal’s forward prospects aren’t particularly big as a unit so Lessio brings a different look in that sense. Lessio figures more as a complimentary piece on a line as opposed to being the main focus.
Newest #Habs prospect Lucas Lessio is a high-end skater with good instincts around the goal. Solid two-way game. Average passer.
— Mitch Brown (@MitchLBrown) December 16, 2015
As a prospect, Thomas was expendable. Montreal already has a plethora of small, speedy players in its organization and many of them such as Sven Andrighetto and Charles Hudon have more upside long-term. Montreal initially acquired Thomas, a 2010 second round pick by the New York Rangers in 2013 in exchange for Danny Kristo, Montreal’s second round pick in 2008. Lessio was drafted 56th overall by Arizona in 2011 and this will be the second time Thomas was swapped for a fellow second rounder.
Several of Montreal’s prospects are restricted free agents after this season. Many of them including Thomas, Andrighetto and Daniel Carr were called up this year due to injuries but also for management to evaluate whether they have a future in Montreal. Andrighetto and Carr have fit in nicely though Thomas did show flashes during his five game stint.
Like Thomas, Lessio is a RFA after this season, though it appears that he will likely stay with the organization considering his upside and age. He will provide a nice boost in the meantime to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, who have been decimated by the amount of call ups to Montreal. With both players still primarily playing in the AHL, there is no obvious winner of the trade but in terms of long term upside, Lessio has more and looks like a better fit for Montreal right now. He has more of what the organization is looking for as he brings a different dimension to the team’s prospect pool.