Could Habs target Jets McGroarty?

According to Elliotte Friedman, the Winnipeg Jets and prospect Rutger McGroarty aren't close on their negotiations.
2024 Frozen Four
2024 Frozen Four / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens should be intrigued by recent news via the 32 Thoughts podcast. 

Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported during the podcast alongside host Jeff Marek that the Winnipeg Jets aren’t fairing well with one of their prospects. Rutger McGroarty, the Jets 2022 14th overall selection, is far apart with the team in agreeing to his entry-level deal. Friedman went a step further and said it appears the team has discussed trading McGroarty.

It was rather puzzling when McGroarty opted to stay in the NCAA, for his third season of college hockey with the University of Michigan Wolverines. McGroarty played 36 games during the 2023-24 season and scored 52 points, including 36 assists. While his goal production dropped by two from his freshman season, McGroarty bested his previous career high in points by 13.

McGroarty also captained the United States World Junior Hockey Championship squad, alongside Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson. Through seven tournament games, McGroarty helped his country to a gold medal, posting four goals and five assists. If that isn't impressive enough, he was nominated as one of college hockey's best players (Hobey Baker nominee).

It's fairly obvious that McGroarty is playing against less talented competition and is best suited to move up a level. Which every player opts to do, in most cases, the NHL is the epitome of the sport. So why didn't he put the bow on his college hockey career and sign his elc?

The decision was the foot in the door to prove something bigger is happening. It appears that much like his United States teammate Cutter Gauthier, McGroarty has no interest in signing with the Jets. So with that, the smartest move is to trade him before his rights expire and Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff gets nothing for him.

And that is where the Canadiens can step in, it's not some kept secret that the Habs want to add to their forward core. The Jamie Drysdale for Gauthier trade worked out quite well, so that begs the question, could Kent Hughes swing a similar trade? Montreal is loaded on the left side of their blueline with Kaiden Guhle, Mike Matheson, Jordan Harris, Jayden Struble and Arber Xhekaj.

That isn't even all the names, there is William Trudeau in Laval and Adam Engstrom; also Lane Hutson should challenge for a full-time role with the Canadiens. So, the idea of moving a defenseman for a talent like McGroarty, who is close to ready for the NHL makes a lot of sense. He is also physical, using his 6 foot 1 and 205-pound frame to rush the puck and exhibit some brilliant puck skills.

With the draft fast approaching and this news just coming out, Hughes could be cooking up another draft day trade to get the fanbase fired up.