March 23, 2023

The Montreal Canadiens are said to have too many forwards. Insiders are reporting that general manager Kent Hughes is actively shopping one and has made it clear to other NHL clubs that players like Evgenii Dadonov, Jonathan Drouin, and Mike Hoffman are available. It’s unlikely the price of acquisition would be high, as the Canadiens are simply looking to move a contract and potentially pick up a draft pick, even if only a later-round one.

During the most recent episode of TSN’s Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun notes that the Canadiens have called teams and specifically had contact with the Washington Capitals. For now, the Capitals aren’t looking to make a deal, but there’s always the potential that could change.

The Canadiens Need to Move a Player

With Joel Edmundson back in the lineup and with a surplus of forwards, the Canadiens have a need to send a body out. The top candidate, according to sources, is Dadonov and he’s been placed on injured reserve. Reporters like Arpon Basu of The Athletic write, “Evgenii Dadonov’s virus needs to be studied immediately. Its resilience is historic.” In other words, he’s not buying the whole illness and injury thing and suggests Dadonov is sitting out with the prospect that a trade might be imminent.

Evgenii Dadonov Florida Panthers
Evgenii Dadonov, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Habs first called his absence a “therapy day”. When he wasn’t on the ice for the morning skate after missing practice for the same reason this week, reporters started asking questions. He was a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game in St. Louis and then moved to IR quickly thereafter. As a pending UFA, it’s unlikely Dadonov stays in Montreal and he’s not the only player the Canadiens might want to move before the NHL Trade Deadline. Sean Monahan and Jonathan Drouin are pending UFAs as well.

Capitals Could Use Some Help, Have Some Space

With injuries piling up, the Washington Capitals announced a number of moves on Wednesday, but it’s unlikely many of the players they’re calling upon will be able to regularly crack the lineup. It is said that the Capitals would like to fill holes internally first, and Sonny Milano, Garrett Pilon, and Lucas Johansen would all be available to them. That doesn’t mean the plan is to use them.

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Head coach Peter Laviolette said:

“Right now they’re just part of the roster. We decided to go with the guys that have been here. The start of the year didn’t go exactly the way we want… tonight, we’re gonna continue to go with these guys. They can get acclimated here as they settle in a bit. We made a decision to go with the guys that we have already.”

If things don’t necessarily turn around (the Capitals are 5-5-2), they might need to look at other options. And, because of the previously mentioned injuries, the team has salary cap space to make a deal. Nicklas Backstrom, Connor Brown, and Carl Hagelin are all on LTIR. That’s a total of $15.5 million that won’t count against the cap if any of them can return for the playoffs. As per Cap Friendly, “After placing Connor Brown on LTIR, as well as Oshie, Carlson, and Malenstyn on IR, and recalling Milano, Pilon and Johansen from Hershey, the #ALLCAPS now have $3,325,000 remaining in their LTI Salary pool.”

Is There A Fit Between The Canadiens and Capitals?

The Canadiens must believe the Capitals are an option to do some business, otherwise, they wouldn’t have reached out. Hughes knows the team has some space to add a player and he’s aware they are a team that wants to compete despite some bigger names being unavailable to them.

Can Hughes convince the Caps to take on someone like Drouin at a reduced rate? If the Canadiens retain 50% of that salary, Drouin is a prorated $2.75 million cap hit and his deal expires at the end of this season. If the Capitals are more interested in someone like Dadonov, they should be able to acquire him for around $2.5 million and not give up much to make that work. Hoffman might be a trickier sell considering he’s got a couple of seasons left at $4.5 million, but he’s a proven 15-25 goal player and the Capitals have a number of expiring contracts on their books as well. There are worse fits.

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