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In Hainsight: Gearing up for the Trade Deadline

February 9, 2024, 4:14 PM ET [88 Comments]
Karine Hains
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In his media availability after the Monahan trade, Kent Hughes mentioned he felt the Canadiens’ last money retention spot would be put to better use in another deal. He didn’t need to use it on the Monahan deal because he had wisely signed him to a very digestible contract in the Summer with an easy cap hit to absorb. But what did he have in mind when he mentioned another deal? Could he use his last spot as a way to trade Jake Allen? Perhaps but I doubt it. The general manager has said time and time again he wants to do right by his veterans. He doesn’t want to have a reputation of not treating them well, that’s why he traded Jeff Petry not once, but twice and that’s also why Jake Allen is still on the Canadiens’ roster and hasn’t been waived to go to Laval. Well, that and the fact he could have lost him for nothing, something he wasn’t willing to gamble on as he feels Allen is a worthy asset.

It's probably the league’s worth kept secret that he’s spent much of the season trying to deal him, even when goaltenders were dropping to injury like flies, he couldn’t find a taker. Why would he find one now? Well, for one the playoffs are fast approaching, and contenders are taking a long hard look at their team to identify their weaknesses and try to patch any holes. The team’s top goaltender Frederik Andersen has been diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis and subsequent pulmonary embolisms in November. He’s only just been cleared to resume on ice activities and that doesn’t exactly comfort someone into thinking he’ll be ready for the playoffs. In his absence Anti Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov both have save percentages below .900 and the team is 22nd in goal against. It stands to reason Don Waddell would want to shore up his goaltending, but I doubt waiver claim Spencer Martin is the best way to go. If Andersen was put on LTIR, he would provide a cap relief of $3.4 million, and Allen has a $3.85 million cap hit. Perhaps another player could come Montreal’s way to make the numbers work and just like that, Waddell would have a better option in net with Allen whose numbers would drastically improve behind a better blue line.

In Colorado, Pavel Francouz is on long term injury relief and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev is seeing a lot of action, he’s already featured in 43 games. Can he keep up that pace? Won’t he be running on empty by the time the playoffs come around? Current back-up Justus Annunen clearly hasn’t got what it takes to be the back up for a long playoff run. Jake Allen, on the other hand, has played his best hockey when he was acting as Jordan Billington’s back-up in St-Louis and he won a Stanley Cup that way. Chris MacFarland wasn’t Colorado’s GM when they traded Justin Barron to Montreal for Arturri Lehkonen, but he sure knows how it went down and how much the Avalanche have benefitted from it. All the more reason to come back to the well.

I’m not sure Hughes would be ready to use his last retention spot to move Jake Allen. If the deadline comes and goes, perhaps Hughes will admit defeat and wave Allen, Monteambeaullt and Primeau deserve more ice time. Cap space is a weapon that must be used wisely. Hughes is well aware that his team needs more firepower up front, genuine top six talent and perhaps that’s what the last spot should be used on. Packaging a promising young D, retaining some salary on another roster player and sacrificing a few pick might just be the ticket to get some help up front.

Speaking of help up front, Alex Newhook is a full participant at practice today meaning he should be back in the line-up on Saturday. Hopefully he finds his footing fast and give Habs fans something to cheer about…This morning, he’s taking reps on the first power play unit, trying to fill the void left by Monahan’s departure. Montreal will be taking on Dallas tomorrow at 1:00 PM in the first of a two-matinee back-to-back.

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