Pursuing Leon Draisaitl would be an atrocious strategy for the Canadiens

With Leon Draisaitl in the rumor mill, a plethora of teams should try to trade for him, but the Canadiens aren’t one of them.
Edmonton Oilers v Montreal Canadiens
Edmonton Oilers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

It’s no longer a question of whether Leon Draisaitl could get traded this summer. Instead, there is some brewing talk among multiple outlets out there that Draisaitl could end up somewhere else in 2024-25, and that team could be the Montreal Canadiens since there is a good chance the sweepstakes are wide open. 

On the surface, it wouldn’t be a bad deal, as Draisaitl would inject more life into a top-six that is young and raring to become one of the best in the NHL once they figure out how to win. Imagine him playing alongside Juraj Slafkovsky and Cole Caufield on the first line in Montreal, while Nick Suzuki could drop to the No. 2 center in the lineup to center Brendan Gallagher and Alex Newhook. 

Yeah, would that be enticing, or what? And yeah, cap space is tight, but Carey Price remaining on LTIR or just trading him to an organization that can absorb his contract are a couple of fine options here, and the Habs would have more than enough room for Draisaitl. 

But as the headline of this article suggests, trading for Draisaitl would be an atrocious strategy for general manager Kent Hughes and the Canadiens. I know this is something you may not want to read, but give me a chance to explain myself. 

Canadiens shouldn’t enter any potential Leon Draisaitl sweepstakes

So why, if there’s a strong chance the Canadiens will have enough cap space to fit Draisaitl into the lineup and extend him long-term, shouldn’t they acquire him? He would make the team way better and perhaps even lead them into the Atlantic Division’s top four, most likely surpassing the Tampa Bay Lightning.

One reason is the way Kent Hughes has built the core so far and retained what was there before he arrived. This method, a slow build involving young talent, as opposed to bringing a star like Draisaitl on board, would give the Canadiens much more potential for long-term success. 

Should they trade for Draisaitl, one major issue is that his presence would force Hughes into making difficult decisions on which brewing core players he should ultimately keep and which ones to do away with. And how would he replace them with viable talent when there would ultimately, at which point, be little cap space to work with?

No, keep the players you got, sign Juraj Slafkovsky to a long-term deal, and when he’s eligible in 2026-27, do the same for Alex Newhook. Also, extend Lane Hutson, Joshua Roy, Jordan Harris, Logan Mailloux, David Reinbacher, and anyone I may not have mentioned when they’re eligible, and watch this team grow into something formidable. 

This isn’t saying there won’t be a time to make that big trade to add that last puzzle piece to what could eventually be a Stanley Cup-caliber lineup but now isn’t the time. While pursuing Leon Draisaitl should the Edmonton Oilers shop him has its benefits, there are currently far more cons than pros.

Update: This article was published hours before Ken Holland departed from the Oilers.