Artturi Lehkonen Ben Chiarot Jake Allen Montreal Canadiens Habs trade deadline 2022 Habs

Which Habs are heading out before the March 21 trade deadline

“This will be the first true opportunity for new hockey ops VP Jeff Gorton and GM Kent Hughes to build the team in their image.”

The NHL Trade Deadline will be upon us at 3 p.m. EST on March 21, and GMs’ phone lines are sure to be lighting up very soon. For the Montreal Canadiens, this will be the first true opportunity for new hockey ops VP Jeff Gorton and GM Kent Hughes to build the team in their image. Given that the Habs — despite being on a fantastic run of form after hiring Martin St. Louis as interim head coach — will be sellers at the trade deadline, expect that some veteran players may get shipped out of town in exchange for prospects and/or draft picks ahead of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, to be held at the Bell Centre. The ball has already begun rolling, with Tyler Toffoli recently being traded to the Calgary Flames — proof that Gorton and Hughes aren’t afraid of trading fan favourites to acquire pieces for the long-term.

Though bigger-name veterans like Carey Price (who has still yet to return to play) and Brendan Gallagher are unlikely to be moved before the deadline, several others are actively being courted by other NHL clubs and could very well go from a basement team in Montreal to a Cup contender elsewhere on deadline day. Here are a few current Habs who should consider packing their bags before March 21.

Ben Chiarot

Currently occupying second place on TSN’s Trade Bait Board behind only Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes, Ben Chiarot is perhaps the most likely piece of the 2021 Cup Final team to get moved next. Even a cursory glance at Habs Twitter will show some fans tweeting “Today’s a great day to trade Ben Chiarot” every single day. Though he’s a reliable if non-flashy defenseman, players of Chiarot’s calibre are coveted at the trade deadline, and teams such as the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues are rumoured to be interested in his services.

Artturi Lehkonen

Though many Habs fans don’t want to see him go, Lehkonen is perhaps one of the best trade chips the team currently has in their arsenal — and chances are, his value will never be higher. At 26 years of age, the Finn is unquestionably the Habs’ best defensive forward following Phillip Danault’s departure last summer, and would be a boon for any team’s bottom six. A first rounder plus other assets (including a B-level prospect) is a possible deadline day return for Lehkonen, one of the Habs’ best penalty killers and hardest-working players — not to mention a proven playoff scorer, having potted the goal against Vegas that sent the team to last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

Jeff Petry

It doesn’t take a hockey expert to see just how poor Jeff Petry’s play has been this season. Sure, the fact that his wife and children have left Quebec to return to the U.S. because of the province’s harsh COVID restrictions is a definite factor, but his play has looked lifeless and haphazard almost all season — or at least the whole time Dominique Ducharme was still head coach. Though he seems energized to play under St. Louis, he remains a key trade piece leading up to the deadline, and teams looking for a veteran d-man who can help run their power play unit will have interest. The Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers have both been linked to Petry in recent weeks.

Mike Hoffman

Though Hoffman has mostly been a positive for the team as far as contributing goals on the power play (a source of consistent struggle for the Habs ever since Andrei Markov’s departure), there is little point in keeping the 32-year-old Kitchener native beyond this season with a possible rebuild on the horizon in Montreal. His $4.5-million cap hit may be hard for other clubs to swallow without any salary retained, but he’d nonetheless be a strong pickup for any playoff team looking to bolster their scoring. He’d also be one of the easier big contracts to move compared with Joel Armia, who has struggled to live up to the $3.4-million AAV that former GM Marc Bergevin signed him to until 2025.

Jake Allen

Remember when the Habs protected Allen for the Seattle expansion draft and risked losing Carey Price for nothing? That feels like a distant memory now, with both goalies being injured for much of this entire season. Though when or whether Price will return to play remains unclear, Allen — who’s out injured until mid-March — has become more expendable than we thought given the recent strong run of form by Samuel Montembeault. The 25-year-old Bécancour native has been making a case for a permanent job as the Habs’ backup, which could make Allen an appealing trade chip for teams lacking punch between the pipes. The Edmonton Oilers in particular could be a fit for him.

This article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Cult MTL. 

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