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Countdown to TradeCentre: Montreal's challenges ahead of the deadline

Jonathan Drouin Montreal Canadiens Jonathan Drouin - Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL's March 3 Trade Deadline is approaching, and teams are making decisions on whether to buy or sell, and on which players can make the biggest difference and hold the greatest value. Check out today's trade rumours and speculation from around the NHL beat.

Quiet deadline in Montreal?

The Montreal Canadiens are set to be sellers once again at the trade deadline this season, but the team is unlikely to see same type of haul they did a year ago when shipping out players.

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reports injuries have diminished the trade value of Sean Monahan and Joel Edmundson, while forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Jonathan Drouin don't appear to be atop the wish list for any team with the deadline two weeks away.

"You think about a year ago when the quality of returns that they got on [Tyler] Toffoli, on Ben Chiarot, and on Brett Kulak. It was a really good trade deadline, period, for the Habs and [general manager] Kent Hughes," LeBrun said on Insider Trading. "But it's just shaping up differently so far. I mean, you think about there are two most marketable trade pieces, if you will – Joel Edmundson and Sean Monahan – they've both been out and Monahan in particular, who was playing so well before he got injured, he's had a delayed return, they hope will finally be back sometime next week. But teams are nervous about how long he's been out.

"Same with Joel Edmundson - his recurring back issues. There was some interest in him, but now teams are wary about that. He's got another year on his deal. It's not the end of the world if the Habs can't move him.

"Then there's Evgenii Dadonov and Jonathan Drouin. The reality is there still isn't a lot of interest, if at all, in Jonathan Drouin. Dadonov is a little different – starting to hear some teams maybe say, 'Hey, if we don't get the top players on our list, maybe we'll come back and call you closer to [the trade deadline].’ Dadonov has played a lot better of late."

The Canadiens' windfall last year included receiving an unprotected first-round pick from the Florida Panthers in this year's draft back for Ben Chiarot. If the season ended today, Montreal would have the seventh best odds of winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes with their own pick, while Florida's selection could provide them an additional chance.

ContentId(1.1920067): One Big Question: Who stays, and who goes for the Habs by March 3rd?

Monahan skated Thursday in a non-contact as he works his way back from an injury sustained on Dec. 5. The pending unrestricted free agent has six goals and 17 points in 25 games this season.

Edmundson, 29, has one goal and six points in 39 games this season. He carries a cap hit of $3.5 million through next season.

Drouin, selected third overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, has no goals and 17 assists in 32 games this season. He carries a cap hit of $5.5 million on his expiring deal.

Dadonov, who was acquired by the Canadiens in the trade that sent Shea Weber's contract to the Vegas Golden Knights last June, has four goals and 17 points in 46 games this season. Also a pending unrestricted free agent, he carries a $5 million cap hit this season.


Why the wait on Chychrun?

Jakob Chychrun remains out of the Arizona Coyotes lineup for "trade-related reasons," but the wait continues for a deal to materialize. 

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reports that a hold up in trade talks is the Coyotes' focus on acquiring only future assets, which could leave potential suitors struggling to clear space for Chychrun's $4.6 million salary.

"The fact that even though it's believed the Arizona Coyotes want to be creative, they're not willing to take on contracts beyond entry-level contracts," Dreger said on Insider Trading. "So, the perfect scenario for the Coyotes is to get draft picks, to get prospects and, at worst, a player on his entry-level contract.

"Now, teams have expressed the interest required to make that deal, but they also need some money to move along to make all of the mechanics work. So far that hasn't been the case as far as Arizona is concerned."

Chychrun, who has been featured on the TSN Trade Bait Board dating back to last season, currently sits No. 2 on the list. The 24-year-old has registered seven goals and 21 assists in 36 games this season, his seventh with the Coyotes.

The Boca Raton, Fla., native is in the fourth year of a six-year, $27.6 million contract he signed in 2018 which carries a cap hit of $4.6 million. The final two years of the deal carry a modified no-trade clause.

TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston added Thursday that the practice of scratching players for "trade-related reasons" without a deal imminent could under review in the off-season. 

"And in the process of this, the Coyotes have started something new, right? The scratch for trade-related reasons without a trade coming soon after. I can tell you that there is some disgruntlement out there, some agents, some in the industry don't like this idea," Johnston said. "Jakob Chychrun has already sat three games for the Coyotes. Vladislav Gavrikov on Thursday will miss his second game for Columbus.

"At this point in time, sources say there's nothing close on either of these players. So, from a practical standpoint, I don't know what can be done to legislate it. Obviously teams can make their roster decisions as they see fit, but if one or both of these guys sit until March 3rd, I think we're going to see more conversation on this practice."


'Uneven' Flames cautious in deadline approach

The Calgary Flames sit outside the playoff picture after a 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving spoke to TSN's Salim Valji prior to the latest loss, calling his team's performance this season, "uneven."

Treliving has previously stated he'd like to add a scoring forward to his group, but when asked by Valji whether acquiring a defenceman was also on his radar, the general manager said the must be cautious given their place in the standings.

“Again, we’ve got eight defencemen here right now. We’ll continue to monitor the market and see if there’s things that will help us. We’re in a situation right now where we have to be careful of how much we chase things," he said. "The focus for us is on the games in front of us right now. We’ll continue to monitor the market if there’s ways to help us at a price that makes sense and a contract that makes sense. What I mean by that is now, moving forward, how it fits in with our group and what the acquisition cost is. Then we’ll look at it. There’s lots of moving pieces to it. 

"We’ve got work in front of us with the games we’re playing here this week. That’s where our focus is, and we’ll continue to monitor to see what’s out there.”

ContentId(1.1920384): What do Flames need ahead of trade deadline?

Following an off-season of change that included trading Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers for a package that included Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, losing Johnny Gaudreau to free agency and signing Nazem Kadri, the Flames have struggled to find the same level of success the team had a year ago. 

Among the Flames seeing a drop off in success this season is goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who has a 14-13-7 record this year after going 37-15-9 a year ago.

Treliving said Thursday he's committed to sticking with the team's tandem of Markstrom and Dan Vladar through the remainder of the season.

 “I think it’s been a little bit up and down," Treliving said of the team's goaltending this season. "I think Jacob would tell you that as well. He’s had some good stretches. He’s had stretches where he probably wants them back. The job here for us is to help support him, not only Jacob but all of our players and make them better. He’s a really good goaltender. We’ve got to take care of things around him, support him as best we can and play in front of him and then help him get back to the level that he’s capable of. So, I’ve got full confidence in Jacob as well as Danny. Danny’s come in here and played some good hockey for us.

"Between the two of them, obviously you need good goaltending to get yourself into the playoffs. We know what these goaltenders are capable of and we’re expecting that they’re going to give it to us.”