These are the players the Habs should target in trades in 2022–23

The Canadiens’ preseason is officially underway today, but that doesn’t mean Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton are done tinkering with their roster.

The Montreal Canadiens’ preseason is officially underway, but that doesn’t mean Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton are done tinkering with their roster. Since the Habs are still over the cap even with Carey Price’s $10.5-million contract on LTIR, some of the team’s forwards will have to get moved soon to create more breathing room. But once that’s taken care of, who could the Habs be eyeing to help bolster their young group during this transitional period for the club? Five ideas are listed below, two of whom will be very familiar to Gorton in particular.

One player I’ve excluded here on purpose is Pierre-Luc Dubois, the p’tit gars de chez nous who has been linked with a trade to Montreal from the Winnipeg Jets. Since he enters unrestricted free agency in 2024, it might make more sense to wait a couple years before making a push for Dubois, especially as the team may be more competitive by then. 

Here are five possible candidates who the Habs could target in trades either during the 2022–23 season, or in the days leading up to it.

Four players the Habs should target in trades in 2022–23

Vitali Kravtsov

Vitali Kravtsov Habs trades
Vitali Kravtsov (These are the players the Habs should target in trades in 2022–23)

Here’s another Rangers player who will be especially familiar to Gorton as well as the Habs’ new amateur scouting guru, Nick Bobrov. Selected ninth overall by the Rangers at the 2018 draft, Kravtsov’s NHL career has gotten off to a checkered start. The 22-year-old Russian refused to play for the Rangers’ AHL affiliate last season, instead being loaned to Traktor Chelyabinsk in his homeland. Since the Rangers are very much in win-now mode, trading him to a team like the Habs could make perfect sense. Kravtsov still boasts tantalizing offensive upside while standing at 6’2”, and putting him next to the Suzukis and Caufields in our lineup could set the stage nicely for him to fulfill his potential.

Anthony Beauvillier

Anthony Beauvillier Habs trades
Anthony Beauvillier (These are the players the Habs should target in trades in 2022–23)

No, we didn’t just include him here because of his name. This 25-year-old Sorel-Tracy native has yet to truly explode as a member of the New York Islanders, having not put up more than 39 points in any of his seven seasons on Long Island. That said, if players like Josh Anderson, Jonathan Drouin, Mike Hoffman and Joel Armia are on their way out, this could create space on the wing for a player like Beauvillier to learn under Marty St. Louis. This would allow the former first-round draft pick to maximize his offensive skillset in an environment with no pressure or expectations to compete.

Tyson Barrie

Tyson Barrie Habs trades
Tyson Barrie (These are the players the Habs should target in trades in 2022–23)

Though Colorado’s Samuel Girard is considered a higher-end option for offensive blueliners, he’ll probably cost a high return. Barrie, meanwhile, could probably be had for significantly cheaper. A true blue power play quarterback, Barrie could bring a sorely needed boost to the man advantage, despite occasionally being a horror show in his own end. Then again, if that can help our odds of getting Connor Bedard, maybe it’s worth considering after all. Regardless, his right-handed shot and offensive prowess would fill a long-standing hole on the Habs’ blue line. Since the Oilers can no longer afford him at his $4.5-million AAV cap hit, he’d be an enticing option for the Canadiens assuming the necessary cap space is cleared out beforehand.

A top young goalie prospect

Devon Levi
Devon Levi (These are the players the Habs should target in trades in 2022–23)

Yes, this one is way too general, but it’s frankly hard to pick just one goalie prospect to target. Either way, it’s now a major positional need given Carey Price’s likely retirement, and with Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau not seizing the title of “Habs goalie of the future” for themselves. Should Primeau in particular not take a big step forward this season, it’ll be time to think of young netminders the Habs could target whose rights are owned by other NHL clubs. 

Perhaps the most enticing target could be Devon Levi, the Dollard-des-Ormeaux native currently with the Buffalo Sabres organization, who dominated at Northeastern University — the same school Kent Hughes’s sons play for — last season. Other names worth looking out for include Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (also with Buffalo), Lukas Dostal (Anaheim), Dustin Wolf (Calgary) and Pyotr Kochetkov (Carolina). No matter who ends up becoming the Habs’ goalie of the future, it’s an area of the ice Hughes and Gorton will need to sort out sooner rather than later. ■

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