Montreal Canadiens: Five Bad Contracts To Acquire Alongside a 1st Round Draft Pick

Mar 10, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Milan Lucic (17) and forward Sean Monahan. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Milan Lucic (17) and forward Sean Monahan. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Montreal Canadiens head into the offseason with a lot of work to do on a roster that just finished last in the NHL standings. An attempt to make them into a playoff contender next season would likely require some shortsighted moves and more long-term pain.

So, the franchise has to grapple with the reality that the 2022-23 season should be better than this year, but not nearly good enough to get the Canadiens back to the postseason.

This will of course depend on a couple of key questions surrounding the team as they head into the summer. Will Carey Price play at all next season? And will Jeff Petry play another game with the Canadiens in his career?

If the answer to either of those questions is no, the Canadiens need to work through the offseason with the understanding a 2023 playoff berth is extremely unlikely. That isn’t to say they should actively try to lose games in October, but they shouldn’t try to sign Kris Letang and Patrice Bergeron.

Instead, they should use their additional cap space to add a dependable veteran that is on a bad contract. This would give the Canadiens another experienced voice in the room that can help guide Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and Shane Wright along. They could also potentially play a lot of minutes on a team that is more likely to compete for the right to draft Connor Bedard than the right to play playoff hockey, and thus not exposing a young player to the NHL before they are ready.

The real reason for taking on a bad contract isn’t to help out another team that is in a bad way with the salary cap. It is to take advantage of that team that is in cap trouble and leverage another first round pick from them.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had to give up a first round pick to get the Carolina Hurricanes to take on the final year of Patrick Marleau’s contract a few years ago. They immediately bought out Marleau, but that draft pick turned into Seth Jarvis who just turned 20 and scored 40 points in 68 games this season.

Marleau’s cap hit was $6.25 million back then, which sets the bar for this type of trade. If the Canadiens can take on about $6 million in cap space from another team, they should expect a first round pick in return.

Who is desperate enough to give the Canadiens a first round pick to take on a contract? Well, with the salary cap not moving in recent years, quite a few teams actually.