It was a big news if you’re the Montreal Canadiens or their fans. One of their top prospects, Northeastern University standout defenseman Jordan Harris, informed the team that he was going to be playing his last year of College. He will be playing his fourth season, instead of turning professional. It is a surprise as Harris was dominant at the NCAA level this past season with a production of 19 points in 19 games. Top prospects often chose to turn pro after their third year. The risk for the Canadiens is now that Harris could chose to not sign with them and become a UFA by August 15, 2022. With such a high quality prospect, will the Habs gamble on him signing with them or will they be tempted to get something in return in a trade? That’s the million dollar question… figuratively and literally speaking.
The Canadiens are stacked in quality prospect on the left side of their defense. Starting with 20 year-old Alexander Romanov, who is playing a regular shift with them on the third pairing, many others are in the pipeline.
From the press release, the Canadiens tried to reassure the fans but their statement did very little to settle people following the team. Let’s face it… it’s a less than ideal situation.
After discussions between the organization, Jordan and members of his family, it was agreed that this is the right course of action for his development. The organization is fully supportive of this plan. Jordan remains totally committed to the Montreal Canadiens for the future.
While the news of Harris’ decision isn’t the most positive, it’s also not as bad as we think. The 5-foot 11-inches Haverhill, MA, native can still sign with them prior to the August 15, 2022 deadline. But further to this, left defense is the Canadiens’ deepest position of strength.
We’ve touched in a few occasions on the need for the Canadiens to finally get a top-4 left-handed defenseman to complement Shea Weber‘s game. While there are other options, I’ve made no secrets that Mattias Ekholm is THE key target in my eyes. And although the price is steep, he is worth it, particularly that he has a year left to his very affordable deal. The Predators are supposedly looking for a package similar to what the LA Kings got from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jake Muzzin: a first round pick and two prospects.
The first round pick for a player of Ekholm’s caliber is a no brainer. The Canadiens are deep on left-handed defensive prospects and with Harris’ decision, perhaps Marc Bergevin will be tempted to offer him to the Preds in that deal? All that would be left is a salary dump and maybe another prospect (B-level). Think about this… the Habs would get a top-end player who would solidify the defense for a year and a half, while the team’s prospects develop further.
The 14-day quarantine seems to be a stumbling block for many media members and fans alike. But think about it. Ben Chiarot is gone for six to eight weeks. If the Habs don’t look for options on LD, they’re stuck with what they have until Big-Ben returns. Is it better to have to wait another six weeks with no help or two weeks, the time of Ekholm’s quarantine? Further, he’s been playing between 25-28 minutes in this tight schedule. This would provide him with some much needed rest.