Everyone knows that the Montreal Canadiens need to win the Stanley Cup as soon as possible because they are a club that are only getting older. The Canadiens have been in this mode since trading P.K. Subban for Shea Weber and for this trade to not be a total bust, a cup has to come to Montreal. The Canadiens definitely have some solid pieces right now, but they also have a lot of holes that need to be fixed if they ever want to win the Stanley Cup with this core of players. A lot of roster moves are still needed.
In this article, we will be looking at ten forwards and five defensemen that the Montreal Canadiens should look to acquire during their time as potential championship contenders. This list will be full of superstars who do not have many years left on their deals and/or are stuck on rebuilding clubs. There is no doubt that the Canadiens want to give veterans like Carey Price and Shea Weber their first Stanley Cups, but there are still a lot of moves that need to be done for that to occur.
With that, here are the 15 potential players that the Montreal Canadiens should look to trade for.
15 Oliver Ekman-Larsson
The Montreal Canadiens would be fools if they do not go after Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson is one of the best defenders in the NHL today and is a prime candidate to be moved shortly. Ekman-Larsson’s contract with Arizona is set to expire very shortly, so he will eventually be in the rumour mill. That is when Montreal should acquire him.
There is no doubt that the Canadiens would be a perfect fit for Ekman-Larsson because they need a top defenseman on the left side. A top pairing of Shea Weber and OEK would be absolutely lethal and could carry the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup since 1993. This is something that the Canadiens should jump on as soon as possible.
14 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
There is no doubt that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will eventually be traded by the Edmonton Oilers. Nugent-Hopkins’ $6 million cap hit is not necessarily a bad one, but with the large contracts Edmonton has handed out to their top players it is apparent that he is expendable. Nugent-Hopkins could see himself traded very soon and Montreal should look at him.
It is clear that the Canadiens are very weak down the middle and they need an upgrade as soon as possible. Although Nugent-Hopkins’ does have a decent cap hit, the Canadiens would be able to afford him in the long term because players like Tomas Plekanec will be off the roster at the end of this season. RNH’s two-way presence would be spectacular for the Habs.
13 Rick Nash
Due to their atrocious offseason and horrible start, it is clear that the New York Rangers may be slowly moving into a rebuilding stage. If they continue to struggle, it is all but inevitable that Rick Nash will be traded by the trade deadline. With his contract expiring at the end of the year, he will be a prized trade candidate for a contending team like the Habs.
It is apparent that Nash is on the downswing of his career, but a trade to Montreal could motivate him to find his old game. Nash is just two years removed from a 40 goal season, so it is clear that he does have the ability to score clutch goals. Nash would be a solid and cheap pickup for the Canadiens and would provide them with better wing depth.
12 Tyler Myers
Tyler Myers is an interesting trade candidate for the Montreal Canadiens because he is a very talented player, but has been through a lot of injury problems. Myers started his NHL career amazingly by being deemed as the top rookie in the league, but since then has yet to maintain a consistent game plan. Maybe a trade to Montreal could help him out.
The Canadiens have been consistently criticized for building a team of small players and not having enough toughness. Myers would give them a huge body on their back end with his outrageous 6’8’’ height. The Canadiens are in dire need of a top defenseman on their roster and although Myers has struggled, it is clear that his potential can carry him to elite status.
11 Evander Kane
Although Evander Kane has had an abundance of attitude issues over the years, he would be an excellent rental for the Canadiens. It is clear that the Buffalo Sabres are willing to move on from Kane, and with one year remaining on his deal he will be traded no matter how good the Sabres end up. With that, the Canadiens should look to bring in his skill.
Kane has started off this season with a huge bang and is averaging over a point per game in his first six games. Kane’s breakout could very well carry throughout the season and that is something that the Canadiens should jump at. Although re-signing Kane would most likely not happen because of their cap concerns, he is the perfect player to bring in when you are on the verge of a Stanley Cup run.
10 James Neal
James Neal is playing fabulously for the Vegas Golden Knights and has carried them to a very solid start. Neal is without a doubt going to be traded at the trade deadline and the Canadiens should absolutely jump at that opportunity. It is clear that the Canadiens are having a lot of offensive struggles and a player like Neal would provide them with great assistance.
With the Canadiens wanting to win the Stanley Cup now, Neal may be the best rental they can bring in this trade deadline season. As we all know, Neal was a key member of the Nashville Predators last season and almost led them to their first Stanley Cup ever. As a veteran, Neal definitely has the motivation to win his first Stanley Cup and Montreal would be the ideal location for him.
9 Ryan Ellis
Ryan Ellis would be an excellent addition for the Montreal Canadiens because he is a very talented hockey player with both speed and grit. Although Ellis is a bit on the shorter side, he does not shy away from the physical side of the game and that would be very beneficial for the Canadiens. They are desperate for righties and Ellis would be a solid choice.
The most beautiful thing about Ellis is that he has such an affordable contract and there are a handful of seasons left. Although the price for acquiring Ellis would be a bit heavier because of this, it is apparent that the Predators will eventually have to move Ellis. Their defensive core is already very expensive and Ellis will be looking for a huge raise. The Habs should take advantage of this.
8 Wayne Simmonds
Wayne Simmonds is one of the best power forwards in the NHL and is the main reason why the Philadelphia Flyers still are finding success today. Yet, this is not necessarily a good thing for a team that should be rebuilding. It would not be surprising to see that Flyers eventually look to move Simmonds while his contract continues to get shorter.
This may be a bit of a long shot until next season, but Simmonds would be such a good player for the Habs to pick up. They need an elite winger on their team to win a Stanley Cup and the best part about Simmonds is his size. Simmonds is a team-first and hardworking player, so the Canadiens would love to have them. He would fit their culture perfectly.
7 Joe Thornton
Joe Thornton is definitely in the home stretch of his NHL career, but he still is in need of his first Stanley Cup. If Thornton ends up staying in San Jose for the rest of his career, it is absolutely apparent that he will never win. The Sharks are definitely on the downswing and Thornton needs to join a team that can win right now. That is what makes the Habs perfect for him.
When looking at the list of NHL players who have never won, Thornton is the one who deserves it the most. Thornton is one of the best playmakers in NHL history and really should have won by now. The Canadiens should push to help Thornton finally win because they are desperate for a top centre and Thornton would give them that.
6 David Savard
It is absolutely apparent that the Montreal Canadiens are in dire need of a Top-4 defenceman and they should look to a player like David Savard for help. Although Savard is not necessarily an elite talent, he is definitely player that would help the Canadiens immensely. Savard is a very solid two-way defenceman who plays the body a lot, as well as putting up decent numbers.
Savard would be an awesome addition for the Canadiens because he grew up in Quebec and we all know how much Montreal loves their hometown boys. Putting his nationality aside, Savard is the type of defender that could help the Canadiens be far better, but also not cost them as much as a complete superstar would.
5 Claude Giroux
Just like Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux is in a very tough spot with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are in a position where they are going to rebuilders for quite some time and for a veteran like Giroux, he should be looking to be moved. Giroux has been extremely loyal to the Flyers over the years, but if he wants to win, he should ask to be traded to Montreal.
Giroux would be an excellent fit for the Canadiens because it would give them their top line centre. Acquiring Giroux would allow the Canadiens to move Jonathan Drouin back to the wing and that could benefit everyone involved. There is no doubt that Giroux would love to play for his hometown city and Montreal would accept him with open arms. However his price tag may be too high for the Habs right now.
4 Matt Duchene
It is absolutely shocking that Matt Duchene was not traded to the Montreal Canadiens this offseason because everyone thought it was a done deal. The Canadiens were openly interested in Duchene’s services and it is easy to understand why. Duchene is an elite talent and would have helped their offensive depth immensely. Lucky for them, he is still on the block.
Much like Giroux, Duchene would be a great player for the Canadiens to acquire because he would be a great centre for them. It is not often that players like Matt Duchene end up on the trading block and for the amount of time that has passed, it is insane that he has not been picked up. The Canadiens want to win now, so they should jump on this before it is too late.
3 Drew Doughty
Drew Doughty is the number one defenceman that the Montreal Canadiens should go after for their Stanley Cup run because he led the Los Angeles Kings to two of them. There is no doubt that the Kings will end up moving Doughty if he does not agree to an extension with them. He is far too good a player to let go of for nothing and Los Angeles knows this.
Even if Doughty ends up being a rental player down the line for the Canadiens, picking him up is absolutely a necessity if the opportunity presents itself. This is a Canadiens team that needs to win in the next few years or every roster move they have made to get older was a complete mistake. Doughty could help erase every bit of criticism Canadiens’ management faces.
2 Tyler Seguin
Tyler Seguin is one of the best players in the NHL today and he is still incredibly young. With Seguin’s contract expiring after the 2018-19 season, it is likely that he may end up moving on from Dallas if things do not turn around for the franchise. Seguin had a taste of winning during his stint with the Boston Bruins and he definitely will look to have that again soon.
Seguin to Montreal would be such an amazing storyline because of his past history with the Bruins. It is clear that the Canadiens and Bruins have always hated each other and seeing Seguin on the Habs would be devastating to the Bruins. Besides the rivalry portion of this, Seguin would be a franchise talent that could be the last piece of the puzzle for a championship team in Montreal.
1 John Tavares
This is the biggest trade rumour in the NHL today and it is easy to understand why. With John Tavares’ contract set to expire after this season and no extension in place, it is very likely that he will be moved during the trade deadline. Montreal has been rumoured to be very interested in Tavares and that would be a very smart move for the team to make.
The Canadiens need a top line centre and besides Matt Duchene, Tavares may be the quickest and best option. Although there is no guarantee that he would come back during his time on the open market, it would not matter if it led Montreal to a Stanley Cup. With the Canadiens in a “win now” mentality, they should look at trading for Tavares. Him and Carey Price could be all that is needed for a Stanley Cup.