The Montreal Canadiens have had high hopes of contending for a playoff spot this season. After a decent start to the 2023-24 season, the Canadiens have been hit by a number of key injuries that have slowed them down in recent games.
The Canadiens (10-11-3) are fading a bit in the early part of December and they may need to build their roster by making a number of trades.
The most notable injury has been suffered by forward Alex Newhook. The 22-year-old suffered a high ankle sprain in Montreal's game against the Florida Panthers last week. Newhook is expected to be out 10 to 12 weeks.
He was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in an off-season trade and he has become one of the top two-way players in the organization. He had 7 goals and 6 assists at the time of the injury, and the Canadiens will have to make up for his absence if the team is going to climb back in the playoff race
The Habs could decide to send several players out of town as there are several contract situations that are no longer favorable to the organization. However, in order to have a chance to build a stronger team this season, they need to be involved in bringing one or two significant players into the organization.
There are a number of players that could be available on the trade market right now and it is likely that several more will become available as the March 8, 2024 trade deadline approaches.
Two of the players the Canadiens could seek to bring to Montreal include defenseman Noah Hanifin of the Calgary Flames and and forward Morgan Frost of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Noah Hanifin would give the Canadiens an upgrade on the blue line
Hanifin would be an ideal candidate to upgrade the Montreal defense crew, but the problem is that he would also be an excellent addition to nearly any team that acquired him.
He is a brilliant skater who has the ability to shut down some of the top forwards in the game and he also has the skills on offense to upgrade that area as well. It is likely to cost the team that trades for Hanifin quite a bit in terms of current and future assets.
Hanifin had been in contract talks with the Flames, but those talks were not fruitful and they broke off between Hanifin and Calgary general manager Craig Conroy.
There is little doubt that Hanifan is a top-four defenseman and he may even be a top-pair type. He is in the final year of a $4.95 million contract.
The 26-year-old Hanifin spent the first 3 years of his career as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes before he moved on to the Flames prior to the 2018-19 season. His best season came in 2021-22 when he scored 10 goals and added 38 assists for Calgary while finishing with a plus-27 rating.
Morgan Frost could help Montreal's offensive attack
The 24-year-old Frost could turn out to be a major asset for the Canadiens if they were to acquire him from the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Newhook injury means that the Habs need to add at least one quality forward, and Frost could be a player that qualifies for that ranking. Additionally, he is reportedly not one of head coach John Tortorella's favorite players, so that could lead to a scenario where the Flyers are willing to trade him.
Frost has not done a lot so far this season, as he has scored 3 goals and 2 assists in 10 games. However, he showed his value last season when he scored 19 goals and 27 assists for the Flyers.
Frost was a first-round draft choice for the Flyers in 2017, and he has the requisite size and skating ability at 6-0 and 193 pounds to handle the rigors of going into the corners and winning the battle on a consistent basis.
In addition to serving as an asset that would help the team's on-ice performance, Frost comes at a reasonable salary of $2.1 million.
Adding a solid defenseman like Hanifin and a forward with 20-goal potential like Frost could help the Canadiens improve their status and allow them to make a push for the playoffs this season.
Actually earning a playoff spot would take quite a bit of growth from the Canadiens, and they might need to trade for even more talent for that scenario to become realistic.