The NHL's March 21 trade deadline is months away but some pundits are already pondering which players the floundering Montreal Canadiens should start shopping. With their season already slipping away, here's a look at the notable Habs surfacing in the rumor mill.
TVA Sports' Anthony Martineau believes Gallagher's $6.25 million annual cap hit through 2026-27 will become burdensome over the long term. He scolded the scrappy 29-year-old winger for some selfish play this season but felt his reputation as a hard-working leader would be enticing for some clubs. Martineau believed the Habs would have to retain part of Gallagher's cap hit but felt it worthwhile to free up space on the roster and payroll to bring in younger players.
Shopping Gallagher would be a bold move but difficult to do even with retaining salary. Such a trade would probably take place in the offseason when clubs have more cap room.
Martineau's colleague Nicolas Cloutier proposed packaging the 6-foot-3, 234-pound defenseman with winger Joel Armia for a first-round pick and a prospect. Both are big players who Cloutier believes could help a playoff contender.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman felt Chiarot alone could fetch a first-rounder. Montreal Hockey Now's Mitch Gallo listed the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche as trade destinations.
Chiarot's an effective second-pairing defenseman but expecting a first-rounder in return seems like wishful thinking.
Noting the New York Rangers are in the market for a middle-six forward, The Athletic's Arthur Staple felt the 26-year-old Lehkonen would be a good fit. He's a restricted free agent next summer with arbitration rights. Staple suggested the Blueshirts sign him to an affordable short-term deal if he works out for them.