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 Mike Matheson For Ryan Leonard

The absolute best case scenario for the Canadiens is to take advantage of a desperate team and give them something that helps them now, but get something that helps the Canadiens for a very long time.

The Washington Capitals would fit that description as they are running out of good Alex Ovechkin years and if they are going to win another Stanley Cup with him on the team they are going to have to do it quickly.

The Capitals are technically outside the playoff picture but by points percetnage they are the top wildcard team in the Eastern Conference. They have struggled to score goals but do have Max Pacioretty set to join the team in the next couple of weeks off his second achilles injury. If anywhere near healthy, he should be able to add some offense.

The Capitals could also look to add some scoring from the back end. Mike Matheson has 20 points in 30 games for the Canadiens this season and would help jumpstart the Capitals offense by carrying the puck up ice and getting the play out of the defensive zone and into the attacking end. He plays a ton of minutes and would ease the pressure on veteran John Carlson and youngster Rasmus Sandin to provide scoring from the back end.

As a desperate team, the Capitals once traded Filip Forsberg for a few months of Martin Erat. That was a long time ago and this proposal is nowhere near as one-sided as Matheson would surely find a role in the Capitals top six and help them at both ends of the rink for the next two and a half seasons.

To absorb the contract, the Canadiens could take back Anthony Mantha, who the Caps have been trying to get rid of, and actually save the Capitals some cap space. In order to do that, the Canadiens would need to be compensated greatly.

Ryan Leonard was the Capitals top pick in last year's NHL Draft and is a feisty, hard-nosed winger who is scoring just over a point per game with Boston College as a freshman. The Canadiens would have to wait a couple years for him to be a top six performer but he projects to be a Tom Wilson type of player that every team would love to have. That would be a perfect fit alongside Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki.