After being sidelined throughout this season recovering from off-season knee surgery, Carey Price returned to full practice with the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. That could be the first step toward the 34-year-old goaltender returning to action before the Canadiens' season ends on April 29.
Price's lengthy absence combined with the Canadiens' midseason management change prompted speculation over his future in Montreal. Marco D'Amico of Montreal Hockey Now wondered if the long-time Habs goalie could get traded this summer if he returns before the end of the season and proves ready to resume his playing career.
D'Amico cited Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman's belief that there's a chance Price could be playing elsewhere in 2022-23 if he returns during this season. Moving the former Vezina and Hart Trophy winner, however, could be easier said than done.
Cap Friendly shows Price with four more seasons on his contract with an annual average of $10.5 million and a full no-movement clause. With the salary cap only rising by $1 million for '22-'23, he'll be a tough sell in the off-season trade market no matter how good he looks if he returns this season.
The Canadiens would have to take back another expensive player or retain half of Price's cap hit to make his contract palatable to potential suitors. That's assuming he's willing to waive his no-movement clause.
Price waived that clause during last summer's expansion draft to help the Habs protect backup Jake Allen. That decision was based on what proved to be the correct assumption that the expansion Seattle Kraken didn't want to take on his hefty contract. There's no certainty he'll agree to a trade this summer.