The Montreal Canadiens were able to clear up a bit of a logjam up front when they got involved in a blockbuster trade over the summer.
That is not to say the Canadiens were in the middle of a blockbuster deal, but they played third wheel in a huge trade between the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks. In the trade, the Habs took on the salary of Casey DeSmith and Jeff Petry to allow the Penguins to free up enough cap space to land Erik Karlsson.
The Canadiens were also able to move Rem Pitlick to the Pens and Mike Hoffman to the Sharks in the deal, shipping out almost as much salary as they brought in, but they also received a prospect in Nathan Legare and a second round pick in the trade.
This allowed them to open up some space up front which should make room for Jesse Ylonen and Rafael Harvey-Pinard, a couple of much younger wingers, to make the team. On a rebuilding team, this makes a lot of sense and ensured the trade was a good one right away for the Canadiens.
The only way the trade could look bad in hindsight is if Pitlick and/or Hoffman had surprisingly fantastic seasons in 2023-24 and therefore would have been terrific trade bait for the Habs to move at the trade deadline.
That doesn’t look like it is going to happen for Pitlick. Waivers opened around the NHL today, and the Penguins immediately put Pitlick out there for anyone to claim for free. He has one year left on his contract with a cap hit of $1.1 million, which can be buried in the AHL if he passes through waivers.
After scoring six goals and 15 points in 46 games last season, there is no guarantee Pitlick gets claimed. One thing is for sure, there is little reason to believe the Habs involvement in the Karlsson trade will ever look bad in hindsight.
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