Ahead of the NHL trade deadline, the Edmonton Oilers are in a pivotal position. The team is willing to upgrade and they are happy with their roster, but they must be cautious about what they give up in trades and how they use their little cap space. For this reason, it would be prudent to treat rumors that the team is interested in Sean Monahan of the Montreal Canadiens with caution.
The Canadiens center’s availability has been the subject of recent talks, which has many wondering if the Oilers can make a deal without jeopardizing their high-end players and budget.
What Is the Potential Ask for Monahan at the Deadline?
Pierre LeBrun of TSN talked about how the story around Monahan’s trade deadline has changed, highlighting how his play and health have significantly improved since he joined the Habs. His continued health holds the key to his value. However, given the forward’s style of play, there will be a lot of action when it comes to trade talks if he does.
The possible return is the cause for concern. LeBrun notes that the peculiar circumstances surrounding Monahan’s current contract are a major factor in the increased interest in him. Monahan, who is a pending UFA and makes $1.85 million, is a desirable option for teams that are close to the salary cap. The NHL insider speculates that Monahan’s salary may be covered in part by Montreal, which would make him an even more alluring choice for teams with cap restrictions.
The lack of high-quality centers in the trade market is another contributing factor. This makes Monahan more appealing. The best center currently available is Elias Lindholm, though Monahan may come in second. This leads to a situation in which supply in the center position is far less than demand. As a result, there is intense competition in the market, making a player like Monahan—who has been playing above average this season—a sought-after asset.
If Monahan’s increased value causes the Canadiens to see an opening, Edmonton will have a problem.
Should The Oilers Get Into a Bidding War Situation?
The Oilers face a number of obstacles in their pursuit of Monahan because of their limited cap space. They could gain from having a depth center in their lineup who is versatile, experienced, and has a two-way game, but the expense could be prohibitive. LeBrun notes that although Monahan’s salary fits the Oilers’ budget, there are issues with his request for a first-round pick.
Edmonton has the difficult task of striking a balance between the need to improve its depth and the need to protect priceless assets for the future. Entering a situation where one team will need to make an offer above market value in order to acquire the player might not be a wise move. Additionally, because Mona
han’s contract lacks trade protection, the Canadiens can simply trade him to the highest bidder.
While Monahan might be a desirable option, the Oilers need to consider the possible consequences of giving up a first-round pick for him. Is Monahan the player you move that pick for? The team has previously stated that they are ready to make that kind of move and that anything is on the table. Recall that he is merely a rental and has a past of injuries.
The upcoming weeks will reveal whether Ken Holland and the Oilers choose to take a calculated risk to improve their chances in the current season or whether they choose to be patient in their trade dealings. The Oilers may wish to withdraw from this competition and concentrate on a different target if the Habs are confident Monahan can garner a first-round pick, which LeBrun considers to be a plausible possibility.