Welcome back to another edition of NHL Rumours from the crew at Last Word On Hockey. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway, however, this rumour segment is all about teams who are gearing up for the NHL Draft Lottery. In today’s NHL Rumours segment, we focus on rumours surrounding the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators.
All NHL Rumours come from their original source and are subject to change.
Analysis: Despite asking for a trade from the club around the holiday season, it seems Jeff Petry has had a sudden change of heart and is now open to staying with the club. Of course, the choice isn’t entirely up to him. He does have the ability to somewhat dictate where he ends up, as he has a clause in his contract that allows him to submit a 15-team no-trade list. However, that’s where it ends.
Petry has been a valuable member of the Canadiens since the Habs acquired him prior to the trade deadline in 2015. He has even played his best hockey for the club during the two seasons prior to the 2021-22 season. Even so, after a frustrating start to the 2021-22 season and the Canadiens struggling to compete, Petry requested a trade from the Habs.
Yet things started to look up for Petry once the Canadiens elected to relieve then head coach Dominic Ducharme of his duties and replace him with now head coach Martin St. Louis. Petry scored five goals and added 16 assists for 21 points in 30 games under the new head coach. An incredible difference from the one goal and six points he put up in 38 games under Ducharme. Getting his defence partner Joel Edmundson back from injury surely helped Petry settle in a regain form, but we have to credit St. Louis for much of the turnaround. Because of this, Petry now seems to be happy again. The frustrations of the bad play are now out the window.
At the end of the day, it’s a business. Petry is aware of this. Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes did say he would still look to facilitate a trade if it was best for both the Canadiens and Petry. Petry has three years left on his contract and is clearly still a very effective player. His play at the end of the season proves he can still be a valuable asset to the Canadiens. It’s also why he is a valuable trade chip for Hughes. Regardless, Hughes does not have to rush. He can take his time with this move and get the most out of the Habs defender whether it be for his team or in a trade. It’s a situation to watch during the offseason for sure.
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Rumour: While Jeff Petry’s future may be in question, the future of Habs forward Brendan Gallagher is not. Hughes stated that Gallagher will not be moved by the Canadiens this off-season.
Analysis: Breathe Habs fan, your gritty warrior will be remaining with the club for at least another season. Honestly, it’s the smartest move for the Habs at this time as well. Gallagher is coming off his worst statistical season to date. It was the first time in his career that he finished with less than 10 goals. He also spent over a quarter of the season out with injury. His trade value at the moment wouldn’t be as high as Hughes knows it could be, even with all the intangibles Gallagher brings to the table.
Gallagher has been a proven goalscorer for the Canadiens since he made his debut during the 2012-13 season. He has spent his entire career with the club and is now serving as an alternate captain bringing his leadership on and off the ice. Gallagher is a true warrior who gives 110% each and every night. You will constantly find him in the dirty areas of the ice despite his massive size disadvantage. He’s the type of player every team wants to have on their roster. This is exactly why the Canadiens have no interest in letting go of him at this time.
Rumour: In an article for the Ottawa Sun, Bruce Garrioch speculates on players that the club will target to improve the core in the offseason.
Analysis: The two players Garrioch mentions are Claude Giroux and Kevin Fiala. Both of these players are on expiring contracts. However, Giroux will become an unrestricted free agent whereas Fiala will be a restricted free agent.
The ageing Giroux is still playing at a high level, scoring 21 goals and 65 points in 75 games this season between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Florida Panthers. He’s proving to still be a valuable piece to any club’s offence. He also has a legitimate shot to win a Stanley Cup this season. As Garrioch mentions, if he is able to do that, it wouldn’t be surprising if Giroux decided he wanted to return to his home province of Ontario to finish his career. Giroux would be the perfect fit for the Senators. They could use someone with his offensive abilities and leadership qualities to shore up the offence. The Senators are a very young team, so a mentor with Giroux’s experience is something that would be invaluable.
Fiala on the other hand is just entering his prime and coming off the best season of his career. Fiala scored 33 goals and 85 points in 82 games this season for the Minnesota Wild. The soon-to-be 26-year-old winger will certainly require a raise from his $5.1 million cap-hit that he had last season and will surely be a player Wild general manager Bill Guerin will look to keep with his team. However, if he’s not able to come to terms with Fiala, he will certainly be able to get quite the haul for the scoring winger. This is where it could get tricky for the Senators as they will have to part with some important pieces in order to acquire Fiala.
Dorion seems ready to try to take the next step with his club. So surely if he can get his hands on Fiala and Giroux this offseason, he will certainly do so. It promises to be a very busy offseason for the Senators. One that will be very important for the future of the franchise.
That does it for today’s NHL Rumours segment. Be sure to return daily for the latest rumours from around the league.