Montreal Canadiens: How To Turn Habs Depth On Blue Line Into Future Top Six Scoring Threat

Nov 12, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj
Nov 12, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj / David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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Trade Jordan Harris for Ethan Gauthier

The best way the Canadiens can use their current situation to fix a future is to trade from that position of defensive depth and strength and acquire a need in a scoring forward.

This is a difficult trade to make midseason as teams are usually not willing to just swap young players or prospects with another team. Teams are either trying to win and looking to add something that can help them now, or are peeking ahead at the future and are looking for something that can help them down the road.

The type of trade we are looking at here would have to see the Canadiens trading a young defenseman who can help a contender now and into the future, while getting the Canadiens a highly touted prospect who can help them in the near future.

A team that could use some cheap defensive help is the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have struggled (at least to their standards) and have 33 points in 32 games. They still have some game breaking talent up front with Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos but they are lacking a bit on the back end where they have lost pieces each season.

Adding a young player with a manageable cap hit like Jordan Harris would make sense for the Lightning. He fits from a cap perspective as he makes just $1.4 million through next season and his versatility would allow him to play anywhere from the right side of the top pairing with Victor Hedman to third pairing on the left side behind Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev.

With the emergence of Struble, and Xhekaj currently playing in the minors, the Canadiens have the depth to move on from Harris and could use a goal scoring threat in return. The Lightning have a thin prospect pool but one of their best would definitely interest the Canadiens.

Ethan Gauthier just slid out of the first round of last year's NHL Draft and was taken 37th overall by the Lightning. He played the past two seasons alongside Joshua Roy with the Sherbrooke Phoenix and has 16 goals and 33 points in 30 QMJHL games this season for the Drummondville Votigeurs who are expected to go on a deep playoff run.

Guathier is in just his 18 year old season and had 30 goals and 69 points in 66 games a year ago. He would add a young scoring threat to the prospect pool which is something the Canadiens are sorely lacking. With the way the Lightning make trades recently, you could expect a couple of draft picks heading the Habs way as well since they are giving up more of a sure thing.