After COVID-19, the biggest topic of 2020 in Montreal is likely the status of Max Domi. At the beginning of the year, people were wondering what happened to the player from the previous year. Then it turned to him being toggled between the centre position to wing. When came time for training camps to begin in preparation for this COVID Cup, Max held out (rightfully so) to study the risk for himself of playing under those conditions with his Type-1 Diabetes. But when the games began, he and Claude Julien were the talk of town as he started as the centre of the… fourth line! We all know that Domi isn’t a fourth line player so what happened, everyone wondered? And speculations began.
Since the topic is hot, let’s look at this as Part Two of this whole analysis of Max Domi’s trade value. In the first segment, we broke down how he compares to his peers across the NHL. We found out that over the past two years, his production is superior to some of the players fans were thinking of “packaging Domi” in a trade. And they were adding other assets along with Domi. Lastly in Part One, we started touching on his potential trade value.
We have identified them in the past, but here’s a reminder of the Canadiens’ most pressing needs coming into this short off-season:
- A solid backup goalie to afford giving Carey Price a break
- Scoring on the wing
- Size at the forward position
- Possibly a top-paring left handed defenseman
We can now check off the backup goalie needs, GM Marc Bergevin prying Jake Allen out of St. Louis. So if you’re going to sacrifice an asset like Domi, it has to a matter of trading in a depth position in order to fix a need elsewhere in the line-up. Just two years ago, we couldn’t have talked about the Habs being deep at centre, could we?
Who? What? When? Where?
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of what teams would have to add on one side or the other, let’s have a look at a few names who would address some needs.
Josh Anderson – 26 years old – 6’3″ 222 lbs – RW
Not so long ago, some people were suggesting a swap between Domi and Josh Anderson. That’s not going to happen as both players are trending in opposite directions. After a 27-goals season two years ago, the giant winger struggled with injuries this season and only managed a single goal and 4 points in 26 games. That’s not saying that the Canadiens wouldn’t be interested in him, but not for Domi. Either that or they would have to add a substantial piece to make it worthwhile for the Habs. Perhaps a Boone Jenner and a high pick or good prospect would do?
Brock Boeser – 23 years old – 6’1″ 208 lbs – RW
Next season, the Canucks have over $64.4 million invested into 16 players, leaving them with just over $17 million in cap room. That’s not counting three key players scheduled to become UFAs: Jacob Markström (G – $3.67M), Chris Tanev (D – $4.45M) and Tyler Toffoli (RW – $4.6M). Troy Stecher (D – $2.33M), Jake Virtanen (RW – $1.25M), Tyler Motte (LW/C – $975k) and Adam Gaudette (C – $917k) are pending RFAs who will be looking for a pay raise. They also have $2.3M buried in the AHL in Sven Baertschi. Yes, GM Jim Benning has his work cut-out.
After consecutive seasons of 29 and 26 goals, Brock Boeser saw his production drop to 16 goals this past season (in 57 games) and he was rumoured to be shopped. He has been rather injury-prone and 69 games is the most action he’s seen in a season so far. His cap hit is $5.875 million for two more seasons before becoming RFA. Thinking out loud, I’m wondering if the Habs took on Baertschi as a cap dump, if a deal couldn’t be worked out?
Anthony Mantha – 25 years old – 6’5″ 234 lbs – LW
What a horrible season for the Wings. Their 39 points were an astonishing 23 points fewer than the Ottawa Senators, the second worst team in the NHL last season. To make matters worse, Steve Yzerman literally lost the NHL Draft lottery due to the NHL’s ridiculous rules and will be selecting fourth overall in October! Dylan Larkin is the Red Wings’ number one centre so adding Domi would automatically make him the team’s top centre.
Forget about it, the Detroit won’t trade their 1st round pick unless they get an offer they can’t refuse. But Longueuil, Québec native Anthony Mantha would be an interesting option. Of course more pieces would have to change hands but I could definitely see a fit between the two teams with Domi and Mantha as the centerpieces. Like Boeser, injuries have slowed him down this season and he managed 16 goals in 47 games.
Jonas Brodin – 27 years old – 6’1″ 194 lbs – LD
The Wild’s top centre is soon-to-be 36 year-old Eric Staal who finished the season with 47 points. Domi would become the team’s best centre simply by showing up there. The Wild is in no cap trouble but they only scored 220 goals all season last year. With Mikko Koivu becoming a UFA and potentially retiring, they have a huge need at centre, particularly on the top-6. How badly could they use Domi?
Could the Habs pry Jonas Brodin out of Minnesota? Smooth skating, averaging over 20 minutes per game, good puck mover, left handed, he would be an ideal partner to Shea Weber on the top pairing. His contract is affordable with one year left at $4.2 million cap hit. He would allow the Canadiens to properly develop Alexander Romanov next season. In any deal for Brodin, I would insist on getting one of Jordan Greenway or Ryan Hartman, two physical forwards. Preferably Greenway, a 6’6″ 225 lbs monster on skates who moves well for a big guy and has potential to develop into a top-6 power-forward.
Jaden Schwartz – 28 years old – 5’10” 190 lbs or Brayden Schenn – 29 year old – 6’0″ 200 lbs
Yes, I know, Habs and Blues have already completed a trade and if there was more to do, they likely would have done it at the same time. But other talks might have happened, including other names. By sending Jake Allen to Montreal, the Blues likely have freed up enough cap space to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo. But they are still tight against the cap, moreso when they sign their captain. As it stands today, they only have about $6.4 million in cap space available with no backup goaltender listed. That’s without Pietrangelo.
So down to business… What if the Canadiens took one of Alexander Steen ($5.75M, 1 year) or Tyler Bozak ($5M, 1 year) with the purpose of buying them out, and fetch one of Brayden Schenn or Jaden Schwartz out of St. Louis? For example, Steen’s buyout would cost the Habs $3.4M in 2020-21 and $1.2M in 2021-22. While at it, I’d also try to get Sammy Blais (24 years old – 6’2″ 205 lbs) in the deal for my bottom-six forwards.
Something else that I’ve been mulling over recently and I’m wondering if the teams would consider? Could a deal be made with the Oilers with Ryan Poehling and Jesse Puljujärvi as the centerpieces? I’m not sure how appealing Poehling would be to the Oilers at the centre position but Puljujärvi might fit in nicely in Montreal. Already surrounded by countrymen from Finland, the transition might be easier for the 22 year-old right winger. And standing at 6’4″, he would add some much needed size on the wing for the Habs.
So many possibilities, right? If only it was that easy! As hard as it is to “keep it real”, it’s so hard to do as everyone’s evaluation of players is slightly different, sometimes even drastically opposite. And that’s why we’re sitting here talking about it without internal knowledge as opposed to being being the phone trying to wheel and deal. Go Habs Go!