Prospect Targets | Habs Trade Deadline

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Jack McBain, Minnesota Wild prospect (TSN screenshot)

NHL, Trade Deadline | Prospects, Targets, Montreal Canadiens, Habs, Jeff Petry, Brendan Gallagher, Joel Armia, Artturi Lehkonen

Jack McBain, Minnesota Wild prospect (TSN screenshot)

What prospects should the Montreal Canadiens target at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline?

ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA — The NHL Trade Deadline is only a few short days away. After months of speculation, the new Jeff Gorton – Kent Hughes led Canadiens front office has been patient. After making a blockbuster move to acquire the Calgary Flames first round pick in this upcoming summers draft for Tyler Toffoli on Valentines Day, the rest of the tradeable assets were waiting anxiously.

The Canadiens most valuable rental asset was dealt late on Thursday, February 17th. Ben Chariot was shipped to the Florida Panthers for an unconditional 2023 first round pick, a 2022 fourth round pick and prospect centre Ty Smilanic. Montreal retained 50 percent of Chariot’s salary for the rest of this season.

In Smilanic, you can expect a complete player: a high compete level along with very good acceleration allows him to be used in all situations. Ty has a big frame, at 6-foot-2, and knows how to use it to win one-on-one situations and board battles. The Denver, Colorado native is currently unsigned and was drafted in the third round (74th overall) of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Panthers.

What to Expect

On Thursday, Hughes said that his club is not open for a “fire sale.” This could limit some expectations fans had of potential returning assets.

At the very least, I expect that Hughes will trade names like Cedric Paquette, Mathieu Perreault, Brett Kulak and Chris Wideman. All of these players have expiring contracts and will likely test free agency at seasons end.

Others under contract, or with restricted free agent rights still held by team, that are longer shots to be moved include Jeff Petry, Jake Allen, Christian Dvorak, Brendan Gallagher, Mike Hoffman, Joel Armia, Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen.

Strategy

The most desired asset in a rental trade by the selling team is typically a draft pick for this summer’s upcoming draft which will take place in Montreal on July 7, 8, 2022. The crown jewels of the projected selling class listed above such as Lehkonen, Hoffman, Petry, Dvorak should all garner first round picks in my opinion.

With the Canadiens already sitting on two first round choices, and nine total picks in the first four rounds of the 2022 NHL draft, it is highly unlikely they will target just picks alone. This means that already drafted or signed prospects may be an attractive substitute. Typical these types of players are a few years older, with some pro experience already under their belts.

By targeting a few NHL ready prospects versus picks, it gives the team the opportunity to place those players right into the Trois-Riviere Lions, Laval Rocket, or Canadiens lineup. Balancing the two approaches can drastically speed up a retool or rebuild.

Offensive Targets

Xavier Bourgault, Center, Edmonton Oilers

Xavier Bourgault, the 6-foot, 172 pound centre from Quebec City, is enjoying a breakout campaign with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Bourgault has posted 22 goals and 21 assists in only 25 games played.

He is playing at a 1.72 point per game (PPG) average this season. Bourgault is a player that Habs’ brass should be familiar with considering his exposure with Team Canada U18 and U20 levels, and also Team Quebec during his minor hockey years.

Bourgault was a 22nd overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. With Edmonton sitting in bubble territory and potentially wanting to push for a playoff spot, Xavier could be a sought after piece who could save them a valuable mid-tier 2022 first round pick for rental reinforcements.

Ryan Suzuki, Center, Carolina Hurricanes

Ryan Suzuki is the younger brother Habs centre Nick. Ryan was drafted 28th overall in 2019. The 6-foot, 176 pound centre has transitioned well to pro hockey after an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) career that saw him post 1.02 points per game.

He is currently playing for the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League (AHL). In limited action, the shifty speedster has put up five goals and three assists for eight points in 19 games.

The Hurricanes have a very deep prospect pool up front. Ryan unfortunately finds himself buried behind some very good talent and that could make him expendable. He may not be worth the equivalent of a first round pick anymore, but would still easily fetch a mid-tier rental player.

Jack McBain, Center, Minnesota Wild

The recent Canadian Olympian, Jack McBain, finds himself in unique territory. The towering 6-foot-3, 201 pound center was a 2018 third round selection of the Minnesota Wild, 63rd overall. He is currently unsigned and could become a free agent this summer.

The college veteran just completed his fourth season with Boston College and continues to make progress in his development. The two-way pivot is enjoying his best season to date with 33 points, comprised of 19 goals and 14 assists in 24 games played. To achieve over a point a game territory is a rare feat in college hockey.

The Toronto, Ontario native is ready for the pro game, and a trade, along with a fresh opportunity could be exactly what’s in store for McBain. If a sign and trade can be achieved, then Jack should be a target for Hughes and company.

Justin Sourdif, Right Wing, Florida Panthers

Justin Sourdif is a 6-foot, 179 pound right winger playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He  is enjoying a change of scenery on a stacked team destined for a deep run in the playoffs and potentially Memorial Cup bound.

After captaining the Vancouver Giants for 24 games and posting nine goals, along with 23 assists for 32 points, the smart and athletic power forward transitioned nicely to his new squad. Sourdif raised his scoring production to 10 goals, 18 assists for 28 points in only 19 games played.

The Richmond, BC native was selected in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft, 87th overall. If the surging Panthers intend to add and are willing to part a piece of a very deep forward pool, then Sourdif could be targeted in a trade.

Luke Evangelista, Right Wing, Nashville Predators

Luke Evangelista, the 5-foot-11-inch right winger, is currently captaining another strong London Knights squad with his creative and supremely effective passing and strong two-way abilities.

Evangelista was an early second round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. He went 42nd overall and has since increased his stock even more with an explosive league-leading 47 goals, paired with 42 assists for a total of 89 points. The strong-skating 20-year-old native of Toronto, Ontario could find himself expendable if the Nashville Predators decide to add at the deadline. He would easily be worth the equivalent of a first round pick right now and could get the current squad a nice rental straight up.

Martin Chromiak, Left Wing, Los Angeles Kings

Martin Chromiak, the Slovakian born 6-foot 187 pound winger is an import player for the stacked Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. The set-up threat with an underrated shot has been fortunate to be paired with projected first overall talent Shane Wright.

Martin was selected in the fifth round of the 2020 NHL Draft by the Kings and has since posted 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points in 45 games. Even with supremely skilled line mates, Chromiak often drives play at 5-on-5.

He finds himself in a logjam of high Los Angeles forward picks on what many believe is the deepest pool in the entire league. This could make Martin expendable at the deadline and what better landing spot than the team that is currently in the running for the best odds at the chance of drafting his current linemate and captain, Wright, first overall in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Defensive Targets

Topi Niemela, Right Defenseman, Toronto Maple Leafs

One of the highest value raisers from the 2020 NHL Draft is Topi Niemela. The Oulu, Finland native was selected in the third round, 64th overall by the Maple Leafs. What the crafty offensive rearguard lacks in size, at 5-foot-11-inches, he makes up for in puck distribution.

The 19-year-old is an elite passer in all zones sand thrives as a play driver from the blue line. He just completed his third season in the Finnish top league for Karpat and amassed an impressive nine goals, and 21 assists for 30 points total.

The young blueliner also got the chance to represent Finland at the shortened World Juniors in Edmonton, Alberta in December 2021. The Leafs find themselves with limited draft capital to move after years of high priced rentals. They may be tempted to deal a top prospect instead and Niemela should be top of the list if Hughes gets the opportunity to choose.

Brock Faber, Right Defenseman, Los Angeles Kings

Like McBain, Brock Faber is also a recent Olympian. The 6-foot, 190 pound smooth skating rearguard represented the U.S. at not only the 2022 Beijing Winter games, but also the 2020 and 2021 World Junior Championships.

The Maple Grove, Minnesota native is currently in his sophomore season at the University of Minnesota. The defensively-minded Faber uses his high hockey IQ to defend and often uses a stick check instead of a body check to produce turnovers. This style can produce a very quick counter attack that is very difficult to defend.

The Kings are absolutely loaded at all prospect positions. This strength could be used for deadline reinforcements for the main club.

Nils Lundkvist, Right Defensemen, New York Rangers

Nils Lundkvist is a perfect example of a player Hughes could target who would be ready to step into the NHL today. The 5-foot-10 inch mobile rearguard was taken in the first round by the New York Rangers in 2018 at 28th overall.

Since his draft year, the Pitea, Sweden native enjoyed breakout campaigns for Lulea HF of the Swedish Elite League. Posting 31 and 32 point campaigns, with the highlight being a 14-goal season in 2020-2021.

Since signing his entry level contract prior to the 2021-2022 season, Nils has split time with the main club and the affiliated Hartford Wolfpack. In only 23 AHL games, the quick-thinking Lundkvist has posted three goals and 10 assists for 13 points. The 21-year-old is very confident with the puck and thrives when he joins the rush.

Jack Thompson, Right Defensemen, Tampa Bay Lightning

Another high-riser, Jack Thompson has well outperformed his 2020 draft day third round selection, 93rd overall. The mobile and offensive rearguard is enjoying a 50-point pace over 65 games split between the OHLs Sudbury Wolves and Sault St Marie Greyhounds.

The Courtice, Ontario native was a last minute cut on Canada`s 2021 World Junior squad and should have an opportunity to go deep in the OHL playoffs for the first time in his junior career this spring with a very talented Greyhounds squad. The 6-foot-1-inch 19 year-old is known for a commanding presence on the powerplay and effective breakout passes often finding teammates in stride deep up the ice.

Thompson would be a very sought after offensive defensemen the Canadiens could slowly develop in the AHL with the Laval Rocket until he is ready for the next step. Patience is key here.

Martin Has, Left Defensemen, Washington Capitals

Martin Has, the towering 6-foot-4-inch two-way defenceman, is still unsigned and could become a free agent at season end. Martin Has was selected in the 5th round, 153rd overall, by the Washington Capitals in 2019.

The Praha, Czechia native native is currently playing for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. The hard-shooting rear-guard has 14 points in 39 games and projects to be more of a defensive specialist at the next level. He makes smart decisions in all facets of the game and could be a player made available by the Capitals for a lower-tiered rental option.

Goaltending Targets

Evan Fitzpatrick, Florida Panthers

Evan Fitzpatrick, the former second round pick, 59th overall, by the St Louis Blues in the 2016 NHL Draft finds himself buried in the ECHL this season. The 6-foot-3-inch left-catching tender is posting a respectable 2.49 goals-against-average paired with a .926 save-percentage.

He is currently sharing the starting role with former Team Canada teammate Jacob Ingham. The pair are deep down the Panthers goaltending depth charts after the draft acquisition of college standout Spencer Knight and the free agent signing of the high sought after Barrie Colts goalie Mack Guzda. 

If the Panthers intend on making any more acquisitions from the Canadiens roster beyond Chariot, then Fitzpatrick would be an interesting kicker in a deal. He could provide much needed AHL depth for the Rocket at the position for this season and beyond.

The Clock is ticking

The 2022 NHL Trade deadline is at 3 pm ET on Monday, March 21st. If the available assets are shopped correctly then Gorton, Hughes and company should not only get a few additional picks to add to the already full cupboard of Canadiens draft picks, but also a few of the intriguing prospects listed above. Enjoy the frenzy!

By Mike Raschle, Staff Writer
All Habs Hockey Magazine
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