As the postseason is underway and teams are jockeying for roster ideas, the current rumour (around the 1:19 mark of the podcast) is that forward Max Domi may be targeted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Of course, the Montreal Canadiens are still playing in the playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers. That means any serious discussions about a possible trade can’t happen.
What The Canadiens Would Need to Trade Max Domi
The Canadiens may entertain a trade for Max Domi if the return is appealing. Like any NHL trade, both parties must be satisfied before the trigger is pressed on a deal. Montreal used Domi as their fourth-line centre in their play-in series against the Penguins. However, he has recently been moved to the left-wing on a line with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jonathan Drouin. With young centres like Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki jumping ahead of Domi, as well as Phillip Danault, being their go-to shut down centre, Domi doesn’t really fit in the middle of the ice anymore. Kotkaniemi has performed admirably in the playoffs with four goals in seven games. Suzuki has three points with a goal and two assists thus far.
Domi had a decent season collecting 17 goals and 27 assists in 71 games. Still, he had an even better season in 2018-19. He accumulated 28 goals and 44 assists in 82 games. His current cap hit is $3.15 million and he is a restricted free agent at season’s end. According to Evolving-Hockey, he could get a five-year AAV deal worth $6.2 million. Which is a fair deal, all things considered.
A player who could possibly be sent back to Montreal for Domi could be Jared McCann. He is a restricted free agent when the season concludes. The centre had 14 goals and 21 assists in 65 games during the 2019-20 season. His projected cap hit for a new contract according to Evolving-Hockey would be $3.21 million AAV for two years. He is a more than decent possession player with a 53.1 Corsi For and a 2.4 Relative Corsi For. While not as flashy as Domi, he is a reliable forward with a good upside.
Montreal Needs a Left Defenseman
Along with McCann, the Penguins may need to include a prospect to make the deal work. Pierre-Olivier Joseph could be a good candidate. Joseph came to Pittsburgh in the Alex Galchenyuk for Phil Kessel trade. He had an average season in the AHL collecting three goals and 14 assists in 52 games. He needs to add some bulk at 6’2″, 175 pounds. However, it’s not certain if he has a future in Pittsburgh so he could be part of this proposed deal. Pittsburgh also possesses their 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th round draft picks which may sweeten the deal.
Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford has mentioned to thescore.com that “It’s very disappointing and changes need to be made.” Rutherford wants to add younger, more determined and more energetic players around his core group. When it comes to energy Max Domi creates it every time he steps onto the ice.
Will it Happen?
As with any trade, the pros and cons need to be evaluated along with salary cap limitations. Will the Canadiens really want to part with Domi at this point, or consider re-signing him? So far there hasn’t been much movement in getting him signed which could merely be related to the playoffs still happening. Or, it could be the team feels their roster without him will be just as good, even with adding McCann and possibly Joseph.
There has to be a reason why the Canadiens only signed Domi for two years. Paying him for a long-term contract may not be in the cards for them going forward. Chances are it’s due to Domi betting on himself and wanting to earn a larger contract. However, it’s hard to determine their motivation at this point.
Pittsburgh Shaking Things Up
From Pittsburgh’s stance, they want to shake things up and desire to be in the playoffs deeper than recently and competing for another Stanley Cup. When you consider Sidney Crosby just turned 32-years-old and Evgeni Malkin 33, their Cup window is beginning to close. Domi could add some youth and vigour to the Pens’ lineup. His style of play certainly seems to fit in with what the Pens try to accomplish.
Don’t forget that Max and his father Tie are very close and it’s possible that Tie may be involved in a prospective deal more than many may consider. Tie has also bought into the Domi playing for the Habs despite being a Maple Leafs legend. So it’s hard to say how the Tie factor comes into play here. However, Max has made it clear he loves Montreal and wants to remain there longterm.
The Montreal Canadiens have overachieved this season being the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference and getting by the Penguins in the qualifying round. The Penguins have underachieved and may have had a good look at Domi and thought he’d be an excellent addition. Can Max help Crosby and company go after another Cup if a deal is pulled off?