Nobody knows what the plan is for the Habs right now. Not GM Marc Bergevin, not owner Geoff Molson, not a single person in the hockey world. Only a couple seasons removed from being in the Eastern Conference Final, the Canadiens have hit absolute rock bottom. While their window was supposed to stay open for a few more years, it seems like somebody got cold and shut it quickly as the team is currently sitting near the bottom of the standings. With an unpromising future, the Canadiens should enter a full rebuild mode, and trade the man that has saved the team for the past several years, Carey Price.
It may sound crazy, considering Price just signed a massive 8-year extension that only kicks in next year, but there is no place for him in this team’s future. Unless Marc Bergevin pulls off the biggest heist of the century and somehow lures free agent John Tavares into Montreal, there is nothing much that he can do to turn this current team around. If Bergevin had the guts, he would clean house and get rid of everyone, from Pacioretty to Weber to Price. The only untouchable to me would be Jonathan Drouin, who is a young star winger (NOT a centre) that can be lethal if playing with the right guys.
Let’s look at a few potential landing spots for Price and what the return on him could look like:
- Edmonton Oilers
While some were surprised by the Oiler’s demise this season, others saw it coming from a mile away. When a team is built around one superstar, with little support in the bottom-6, below average defence and a lacklustre goalie, it is no surprise that they couldn’t sustain their level of play. With a projected cap space of $8 million next year, the Oilers would be a great fit for Price and the return would be astronomical from them.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be the first piece in the deal, whose role in Edmonton has not flourished as expected of the former number one pick. It’s clear that Nugent-Hopkins will probably never live up to his expectations as that number one pick, but he would make a great second-line centre for any team.
The second piece would be the team’s first round pick in the 2018 draft, which is looking to be a top-5 pick based on Edmonton’s current pace. A first round pick is good enough on it’s own, but when it’s coming from a team that’s projected to finish around last place, the value of the pick skyrockets.
Based on the value of the pick, that may be all Edmonton is willing to give up, but the two pieces that could go to Montreal would be a great start for a rebuild.
Final Return: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2018 1st round pick
2. Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes are an interesting team — they’re on the cusp of being a legitimate Cup contender, but they’re just not there yet. One of their biggest concerns? Goaltending. With a -14 goal differential on the year and newly acquired goaltender Scott Darling sporting a .895 save percentage, it’s clear that he is not the goalie of their future. Filled with a ton of young, talented forwards and defence, the Hurricanes can afford to give up a couple of pieces to acquire an all-star goalie.
The first piece in this trade would have to be either Noah Hanifin or Jaccob Slavin. Both are great, young defensemen with bright futures in the NHL, and are puck moving defensemen that the Canadiens need oh so badly. With defensemen Haydn Fleury and Jake Bean, two first round picks in 2014 and 2016 respectively in the system, the Canes could afford to give up Slavin or Hanifin in order to bring Bean or Fleury up to the team. It’s an educated guess, but my guess is that the Hurricanes would prefer to keep Hanifin, so let’s go with Slavin.
Fourth round pick centre Nicolas Roy would be the second piece in the trade, drafted 94th overall in 2015. The Québec native showed promise in the World Juniors last year, and has played well in the QMJHL over the past few seasons. A big bodied centre at 6’4, Roy could be what the Habs wanted in Michael McCarron.
Finally, the Hurricanes would have to throw in a first round draft pick, which would likely fall to a mid-round pick unless the Hurricanes endure an epic collapse in the second half of the season.
Final Return: Jaccob Slavin, Nicolas Roy, 2018 1st Round Pick
3. New York Islanders
The Islanders are one of the most interesting teams in hockey to watch this season. Offensively, they’re arguably the most explosive team in the league. The line of Tavares, Lee and Bailey has been tearing it up, and more recently with the arrival of the Matt Barzal show alongside Jordan Eberle, the top two lines are scoring in bunches. On the other end of the ice, the Islanders are probably one of the biggest defensive disasters in the league. The blame can’t be completely put on Halak and Greiss, but they’re letting in a ton of goals which isn’t sustainable for a team to make a legitimate playoff run.
Trading Price to the Islanders would be a great fit, but the issue with them is their cap space. However, with expiring contracts on a number of players including Tavares, Bailey, Nelson, and Halak freeing up upwards of $25 million, it could work.
The first piece in the trade would be defenceman Nick Leddy, who carries a $5.5 million price tag, helping free up space. Still only 26 years old, Leddy is a great puck moving defenceman and is a legitimate top-4 pairing. There have been rumours connecting the Habs and him for a few years now, so it would make sense for them to finally pull the trigger.
The second piece would be Joshua Ho-Sang, drafted in the first round by the Islanders in 2014. The relationship between the Islanders and Ho-sang has been sketchy ever since they sent him to the OHL right away in 2015 after he showed up late to the first day of training of camp. It’s no doubt that Ho-Sang is an extremely talented forward with a ton of potential, but after getting off to a rough start with the Islanders’ organization they probably wouldn’t mind getting rid of him.
Lastly, the Islanders would have to send a first or second round draft pick, but the negotiations on that would be better left to the GM’s. Let’s just say it’s a first round in an ideal world.
Final Return: Nick Leddy, Joshua Ho-Sang, 2018 1st Round Pick
If Carey Price were to hit the trade market, there’s no doubt that teams with goaltending issues to address will be calling Bergevin within seconds. Price hasn’t looked like Price so far this season, but he has shown flashes of brilliance every so often to remind the hockey world just how great he is in nets when he is on his game. It’s clear that Price is discouraged with the team playing in front of him, and perhaps that is what’s affecting his game. A change of scenery would be great for him, and it would be great for the Habs organization’s future. With these potential returns, mixed alongside returns on players like Max Pacioretty and Shea Weber, the Canadien’s future could be looking extremely bright.
Which of these teams do you think Price would get traded to? Do you think the Habs need to get more in return for him?