Could The Canadiens Be Eyeing A Former Norris Trophy Winner?

Kent Hughes (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Kent Hughes (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

With the trade deadline coming in at a frightening speed, the Montreal Canadiens are not shy of a few rumors. We recently covered the Capitals’ interest in pending RFA Artturi Lehkonen, but now it seems that an unlikely candidate might be finishing the season in Montreal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

In a report by The Athletic, the New Jersey Devils have officially put former Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban on the trade block and are willing to retain half of his $9 million salary.

Now we have reported last month that P.K. Subban would consider a return to the Canadiens. With the recent coaching success of Martin St. Louis, Subban would indeed fit perfectly in that kind of system, even if it’s only for the rest of this season.

With the aforementioned reports that the New Jersey Devils would be willing to absorb half of Subban’s contract, word is Kent Hughes might take this opportunity to unload a bad contract in return.

The name of Joel Armia has been mentioned in a possible deal. Armia has 3 years left on this deal at a $3.4 million cap hit. He has been struggling mightily this season in all facets of his game, as proven by his stats line of 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points in 37 games. He is currently day-to-day with an injury but he alongside Joel Edmundson are expected to return to the lineup during the west coast trip.

While adding P.K. Subban is a wild idea combined with all the wild speculation, an Armia for Subban deal would make sense for both teams. New Jersey would have to throw in a bone in the trade, but when you really think of it, with the Canadiens trying to shed contracts and start rebuilding, on paper this makes sense.

There is no commitment needed with Subban. He would give the fans a nostalgic trip, would hog the camera and microphones thus letting his teammates relax a little more and definitely help put more butts in the seats. That being said, you can let him walk to free agency at the end of the season and free up an extra $4.5 million in salary. If he suddenly falls back in love with the city again, rejuvenates his play under Martin St. Louis and impresses the front office, a short 1 or 2 year term to re-up his value could also be a possibility, thus alleviating pressure on the right side of the blue line.

As for Joel Armia, moving a bad contract for another would be a perfect fit for the Canadiens, but would also help the Devils and Armia as well. Outside of Nathan Bastian, the Devils don’t have a natural right winger on their lineup. The have been using an alternate side system comprising of former Canadiens Tomas Tatar, Andreas Johnsson, Jesper Bratt, Dawson Mercer and Jesper Boqvist who has also seen time at center.

On top of everything, a fresh start for Armia in a market with far less pressure than Montreal might be what the doctor ordered. The former 2011 first round pick has shown flashes of brilliance as viewed with his puck protection skills when driving up the ice, not to mention he did have a career year two seasons ago, breaking the 30 point mark for the first time in his career.

Joel Armia of the Montreal Canadiens(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Joel Armia of the Montreal Canadiens(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

With a center line being led by Nico Hischier, Jake Hughes and Pavel Zacha, Armia would be a great compliment to any of these players on the right side.

That being said, Armia’s name has also popped up in recent rumors about his contract being bought out at the end of the season. Other names include Jonathan Drouin, who will be entering the last year of his contract counting for $5.5 million on the salary cap, as well as Mike Hoffman who has two years left at a $4.5 million cap hit.

Buying any of these players out wouldn’t make any sense. According to CapFriendly, buying out Joel Armia at this point would cost the Canadiens $1,288,889 per season until the end of the 2027-28 season saving the team $3,866,667 in total. Buying out Drouin would cost the team $1,833,334 for two seasons for a total of $3,666,668, thus totalling a savings of $1,833,333.

As for Mike Hoffman, buying his contract out would cost the team $1,166,667 in cap hit per year until the end of the 2025-26 seasons for a total of $5,666,668 and a total savings of $3,333,333.

With Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton trying to find cap space in order to attract a big name free agent, it wouldn’t make sense for the Habs to start buying contracts out.

What do you think? Should the Habs trade Armia for Subban? Comment below!

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