Trade deadline a much-needed win for Canadiens

Trade deadline a much-needed win for Canadiens
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Breaking news: there haven’t been a lot of wins for the Montreal Canadiens this season. That said, the Canadiens have improved under Martin St. Louis, and they absolutely aced the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.

Now, they have a long way to go, thanks to all of the baggage Marc Bergevin left behind. Selling high on Ben Chiarot won’t magically mend all fences.

Even so, the Canadiens did a wonderful job accelerating their rebuild at the trade deadline. Sure, it’s easier for things to look up after they drop like a meteor, but let’s look at some of those Habs wins.

If you want an idea of the Canadiens’ trade deadline in a single tweet, ones like these should cover you:

Yeah, that’s a lot of picks and prospects. Let’s dive in.

Ben Chiarot trade remains a stunning trade deadline win for the Canadiens

At the time of the Ben Chiarot trade, the price the Panthers paid to the Canadiens was jaw-dropping.

The return: A 2023 conditional first-round pick, 2022 conditional fourth-round pick, Ty Smilanic (MTL retains 50% of Chiarot’s contract)

That’s … staggering. Deeper dives on Chiarot note sometimes-terrible numbers, often hoping for the best in a reduced role.

Now, it’s common to overrate first-round picks, especially at trade deadline time. The mystery of potential is even stronger than with prospects, as you don’t even know the prospect yet.

But even factoring in what draft picks typically are worth, the Canadiens still won the Ben Chiarot trade in a huge way.

Now, it’s possible that the Panthers find the perfect situation for Chiarot. For every concern about him slowing their machine down, there’s the decent chance he stays home and lets offensive-minded defensemen roam free. While some of the grit obsession gets overblown, there’s a chance Chiarot pays off for the Panthers in the playoffs.

That’s not really the Canadiens’ concern, anyway, though. They landed a massive return for a defenseman who was almost certain to leave for nothing in free agency. If he’s just bad, then this is one of those trades we’ll remember, and it’ll make us shake our heads. (Many of us, clearly, are already doing that.)

Interestingly, the reasonable impression that teams overpay for defense still doesn’t let Florida off the hook.

Although the Chiarot trade was the biggest deadline win for the Canadiens, it wasn’t the only one, either.

Sometimes you have to give up good players to load up for the future

Not every Canadiens trade deadline move was as “easy” as getting maximum value for a possibly overrated asset in Ben Chiarot.

Getting so much for Chiarot is likely the most important trade deadline triumph for the Canadiens. That said, it’s a testament to the Canadiens and their rebuild that they also made trades that might hurt a little bit.

Sometimes that’s necessary: you move a player you like, sometimes on a good contract, because their prime windows don’t line up with your best chances to compete.

Most obviously, that happened with the Tyler Toffoli trade. Watching Toffoli do more great things for the Flames, on a team-friendly contract, won’t always feel so good. But the Habs needed to fuel that rebuild, and Toffoli’s turning 30 on April 24.

[The Ducks have been wise enough to embrace a rebuild. The Sharks? Not so much.]

Really, it’s understandable if Montreal didn’t want to trade Artturri Lehkonen, either. He’s a little younger than Toffoli, and is one of those talents who can sometimes go undervalued.

But the Avalanche sent a robust trade value that just made too much sense to Montreal. Instead of remaining in rebuild denial, they did the wise thing.

Canadiens load up on picks and prospects at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline

The Canadiens pulled off so much at the trade deadline, it may even wash away some of the bad taste from their Christian Dvorak panic trade. No doubt, multiple first-round picks are the highlight. They also sprinkled in some second-rounders, and other pieces.

That includes a decent haul of prospects. Granted, most either won’t have any opinion on these prospects, or their mileage will vary.

Some might have a decent chance of helping the Canadiens in the future.

The point is, they’re not just hoping for drafting luck here. They’ve also added prospects in different stages of their development processes, and maybe they’ll find a fit or two.

Perhaps they’ll find another Lehkonen or Chiarot, while also accruing the sort of first-rounders that could maybe (cross your fingers) turn into someone like Toffoli. After all, the Kings nabbed Toffoli in the second round (47th overall in 2010).

In the grand scheme of things, the Canadiens need to ace more than a trade deadline (or two) to make their rebuild successful. For a team that’s been in serious despair not that long ago, they’ve already given fans some serious optimism.

They even threw in a feel-good story with Andrew Hammond.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

    That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there.

    Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

    Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

    It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

    Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

    And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

    Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

    WELCOME HOME, LU

    Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

    In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

    He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

    Luongo, who was regaled by “Luuuuu” chants from the Florida fans all night, was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

    “You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

    Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

    Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design depicted his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks. They were a gift from CCM for his making the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    “I’d never put the pads on since I retired,” Luongo said. “First time I put them on was this week. Felt pretty good.”

    He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night. But if there’s more alumni games, Luongo suggested he might jump back into the net.

    “It back some good memories tonight to be in the blue paint, hearing the chants,” Luongo said. “Maybe one day we’ll hear them again.”

    REMEMBERING JIMMY

    Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

    Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

    Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

    Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

    ANTHEM POISE

    “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

    Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

    And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

    SLAP SHOTS

    Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.

    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.