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What's Next For the Montreal Canadiens?

With a new GM in place, the work for Kent Hughes and the Montreal Canadiens has just begun. What does the team need to do first to get back on track?
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New Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes will need to draw upon his years of experience and knowledge as a former player to succeed in his new role.

Working in tandem with executive VP of hockey operations Jeff Gorton, he faces the daunting challenge of rebuilding a roster that has completely fallen apart following their underdog run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman asked what other changes are in store for the Canadiens with Hughes in the GM's seat. He wondered which players are considered untouchable and if there will be any discussions with the core players over who wants to stay or go.

Some of those decisions will be made before the March 21 trade deadline, with the most pressing being the status of unrestricted free agent defenseman Ben Chiarot and restricted free agent winger Artturi Lekhonen. Both have surfaced as trade candidates, with the Florida Panthers said to be interested in Chiarot. Lehkonen, 26, could be moved if he's only interested in a one-year deal bringing him up to UFA status next summer.

Core players such as Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin have also popped up in media trade chatter this season. Peddling them, however, might have to wait until the off-season.

Price and Gallagher are under expensive long-term contracts with Price carrying a full no-movement clause and Gallagher a six-team no-trade list. They also have a long history of injuries, with Price still rehabbing from off-season knee surgery.

Drouin's contract could be easier to move with just one year remaining at $5.5 million and a three-team no-trade list. However, he also has an injury history and a reputation as an inconsistent performer. 

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