The NHL Entry Draft is approaching and rumours are starting to swirl around the Montreal Canadiens. The team was one of the biggest surprises in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, ousting the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Qualifying Round and then outplaying the Philadelphia Flyers before they were eliminated in six games. Youngsters Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were the Canadiens’ best forwards, bringing some excitement for the future. However, despite their strong play, there are some obvious holes. The biggest being the lack of firepower in the offence. It’s something Marc Bergevin is hoping to address this offseason.
Montreal Canadiens Rumours
First Round Pick in Play
Rumour: During his media availability on Monday, October 5th, Marc Bergevin stated that he is willing to move his first-round pick if it improved their forward group.
“If we can improve up front, that’s something we’d be interested in. That’s why I’ve mentioned my first-round pick is available.”–Marc Bergevin
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) October 5, 2020
Analysis: The Canadiens’ biggest need right now is a top six goal scorer. That’s exactly what Bergevin means when he says he wants to improve up front. The Canadiens finished 18th in goals for during the 2019-20 season. Their power play was also horrible finishing 22nd in the league with just a 17.7 percent success rate. This also led to their demise during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the emergence of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, to go along with an already solid core led by Shea Weber and Carey Price, the Canadiens need to strike now to take the next step. Moving their first-round pick is a massive piece given how deep this draft is with offensive talent. If a big enough fish becomes available, a package including the pick could very well just get it done. Pushing Montreal closer to becoming a legitimate contender.
So who would they target? Bergevin won’t move the pick for someone who is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season. So, anyone they acquire would have to either be already signed long term or still have RFA rights. Players like Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Anthony Mantha or Jonathan Marchessault are players that come to mind.
Deal On the Table for Laine?
Analysis: Laine is exactly what the Canadiens need. A big, elite goal scorer, who also shoots right which is their weakest side up front. Laine has expressed his displeasure of his situation in Winnipeg. He wants to play top-line minutes with Mark Scheifele. However, he is currently playing behind Blake Wheeler in that lineup. In Montreal, Laine would be the go-to guy. He would slot in on the right side next to Suzuki or Kotkaniemi and would be the face of the offence.
The Canadiens desperately need to acquire a goal scorer sooner rather than later. They do have Cole Caufield on the way up, however, he’s still at least a year or two away. With how well the Canadiens played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Price and Weber not getting any younger, the time is now to make the move. Laine is a proven 30-goal scorer and has even hit the 40-goal plateau in his young career. Standing at 6′-5″, 206 pounds, he has the size the Canadiens desperately need as well.
What Would it Cost to Acquire Laine?
As Garrioch mentions, any deal the Canadiens send the Jets for Laine you would think would have to include Phillip Danault. Danault has also voiced his frustration about being moved into a defensive role in Montreal during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the emergence of Suzuki and Kotkaniemi, Danault finds himself in an unfortunate situation. Winnipeg is in need of a top-six centre, so the two clubs are a match made in heaven. With Danault set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2020-21 season, it just may be time to make the move. A deal would most likely involve Danault, the Habs first-round pick, and a prospect.
Habs Interested in Josh Anderson
Analysis: Anderson would be another solid pick up for the Canadiens. He had a down year last season, scoring just one goal and three assists in 26 games, however, he was injured for the majority of it. Anderson has proven to have the ability to score goals registering 17, 19 and 27 in the three-seasons prior to the 2019-20 season. He also fills the need for size the Canadiens have expressed they’re seeking.
Anderson plays with an edge to his game and the Canadiens are looking to get harder to play against. Which was proven by the acquisition of Joel Edmundson. With the Canadiens looking to get bigger up front, Anderson certainly fills the bill standing at 6′-3″, 222 pounds. He also shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag given his injuries and poor play last season. He’s definitely not someone the Canadiens will move their first-round pick to acquire. However, holding three second-round picks in this year’s draft, the Canadiens may be able to use one of those to acquire Anderson.