The Montreal Canadiens are not heading to the postseason. They need to start looking at the NHL Draft and one way they can add more picks is by taking on salary from other teams.
The Montreal Canadiens started the season with a hope of making the playoffs. They had missed three of the past four years and were hopeful they would not stretch that into four out of five Aprils without playoff hockey taking place in Montreal.
With just under half of the season remaining on the calendar to play, missing the postseason for a third straight year is all but a certainty. They have 45 points in 46 games played. Going 26-10-0 over their final 36 games wouldn’t even guarantee a playoff spot. It would be a one point improvement on last year’s 96 points, but that wasn’t enough then and 97 might not be enough now.
So with the postseason out of reach, it comes time to start selling off assets. I guess, more succinctly it becomes time to acquire as many future assets as possible. There are a few ways to go about that, but the most common method in the NHL is to sell off veterans and pending free agents for draft picks and young prospects.
The Canadiens will certainly engage in selling veterans like Nate Thompson or the recently acquired Marco Scandella and Ilya Kovalchuk. However, those three, along with Dale Weise, Matthew Peca and Keith Kinkaid are the one veterans who will be unrestricted free agents this summer. Peca and Weise are likely to be sent to Laval when everyone is healthy, Kinkaid is already there and Kovalchuk and Scandella were acquired for next to nothing two weeks ago.
You are not going to rebuild the franchise trading those players away. Luckily, the Habs already have a solid group of young players and prospects to build around and don’t have to rebuild the entire franchise. However, they are going to have to get creative if they want to acquire as many assets as possible before the trade deadline.