How Montreal Canadiens Can Get Creative and Acquire Jakob Pelletier

Sep 16, 2019; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Jakob Pelletier. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 16, 2019; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Jakob Pelletier. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Montreal Canadiens promise to be busy ahead of the NHL trade deadline that is fast approaching.

Teams have until Monday to make deals to upgrade their team ahead of the postseason. The Habs have gotten in on the fun already with a big trade but far more could happen in the coming days.

The Habs have already traded Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames for Emil Heineman, a first round pick, Tyler Pitlick and a fifth round pick. While this was a big enough trade on its own, the two teams may not be done making deals just yet.

The Flames were rumoured to be interested in also adding Ben Chiarot in the deal. Chiarot is a big, physical, left defenceman who would likely fit in perfectly on a Flames team that is coached by Darryl Sutter. The Sutter’s like their teams to be big and physical and Chiarot can handle that style of game.

But he isn’t really a perfect fit. Only because he would push Nikita Zadorov out of the lineup and he is also a big, physical defender on the left side. Chiarot is an upgrade on Zadorov, but would the Flames match the asking price just to have Chiarot play on the third pairing behind Noah Hanifin and Oliver Kylington?

Or would they push Hanifin or Kylington down the lineup even though they fit perfectly with their current partners?

It just doesn’t make a ton of sense. But the Canadiens and Flames were rumoured to be talking about Chiarot when the Toffoli trade was made.

Apparently, what the Canadiens really wanted from the Flames was prospect Jakob Pelletier, but they couldn’t make it work. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported that the Habs are very interested in landing Pelletier.

But if Chiarot isn’t the perfect fit there, how can the Canadiens land Pelletier?

Well, they can try to help the Flames fit a much bigger need. After adding Toffoli, the Flames wingers are extremely deep with Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk on the top line and Toffoli, Blake Coleman, Andrew Mangiapane, Dillon Dube, Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis to fill out the rest.

Their defence has been terrific and the chemistry amazing with Rasmus Andersson playing with Hanifin and Kylington partnering with Chris Tanev as well as Zadorov on the third pairing with Erik Gudbranson.

So, what do they need? A middle six centre.

Behind Elias Lindholm who has been great on the top line is Mikael Backlund who is a great defensive centre and then a struggling Sean Monahan and a young Adam Ruzicka.

If the Flames are going to add anything before the deadline it should be a middle six centre.

The Canadiens have a middle six centre in Christian Dvorak who could be available in the right deal. Dvorak was acquired for first and second round picks in the offseason but didn’t fit in perfectly at the start of this season. He played okay, but only had 16 points in 37 games before injury.

Now, that was pre-Martin St. Louis so there is plenty of reason to believe Dvorak could be better when he returns from injury in the very near future. In fact, Mathieu Perreault was placed on waivers yesterday so the Canadiens has room to add Dvorak into tonight’s lineup.

Dvorak would fill a big hole in the Flames lineup down the middle, but they might have a hard time adding salary cap space for next season. The Habs centre is signed for three more years at $4.45 million, which is great for a team acquiring him, but the Flames need to find room to re-sign Gaudreau and Tkachuk. They just can’t take on more money.

So, this is where the Habs get creative. To save the Flames money, the Canadiens take back Sean Monahan in the trade. Monahan has just eight goals and 22 points in 54 games this season, even though he played a lot on the first power play unit before Toffoli was acquired.

Monahan has a cap hit of $6.375 million through next season before he becomes a free agent. So, a Dvorak for Monahan deal actually saves the Flames about $2 million in cap space next season.

Dvorak has a lot of value to teams that remember him from his Arizona Coyotes days. He wouldn’t be enough to get Pelletier on his own, but if the Canadiens are willing to take back some bad contract money for a season, the Flames may be willing to part with their top prospect.

Pelletier is a 21 year old left winger who has 48 points in 48 AHL games this season. The fact he is from Quebec is just a bonus, as the real reason for the Canadiens interest in the player is his potential to be a top six scoring winger in the near future at the NHL level.

You have to give to get. Or, in this case, you have to give and take (bad money) to get. Chiarot isn’t quite a good enough fit with the Flames to entice them into trading such a great prospect. But Dvorak is a great fit, filling their biggest need, aside from them needing cap space. But this deal would take care of that as well.

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