On Wednesday night, the Canucks shook up the NHL world by acquiring Elias Lindholm in a deal with the Flames. That trade made the Canucks just that much scarier as they make their push towards the postseason. With Lindholm off the board, Sean Monahan of the Montreal Canadiens was arguably the best center available. Knowing that, the Winnipeg Jets immediately pounced and acquired the 11-year veteran on Friday.
The Jets narrowly made the playoffs last season and after trading Pierre-Luc Dubois in the offseason, it was fair to wonder whether they'd squeak in this season. The Jets, led by elite goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, sit comfortably in a playoff spot with 65 points in their first 47 games and are just two points back of first place Colorado in the Central Division. Adding Monahan to the fold should only help.
While the Jets are clear buyers, the Canadiens, predictably, have been one of the worst teams in the NHL with 48 points in 49 games and a -39 goal differential. Trading a player like Monahan to help them win in the future is exactly what they should be doing, and is what transpired. Both teams got what they wanted in theory, but one still did much better than the other.
NHL Trade Grades: Jets make playoff push by acquiring Sean Monahan but pay huge price to execute the deal
Sean Monahan is having an awesome bounceback season, putting up 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points in 49 games. He's put up as many as 82 points in a season but had seen that number decline in each of the previous four seasons before bouncing back this season.
The Jets badly needed some forward help as their offense has been nothing to write home about. Their power play in particular is subpar, as the Jets have converted at a 15.6% clip with the man advantage, good for 24th in the NHL. Adding Monahan who has scored six of his 13 goals on the power play should provide a much-needed boost.
Where this deal falls apart a bit is what Winnipeg gave up for a player who isn't really a needle mover. Monahan, while he should help offensively, is subpar defensively, and is a free agent at the end of the season, making him nothing more than a rental. Giving up a first-round pick would be a ton on its own, and adding a conditional third-round pick makes it much harder to justify. The lack of available centers likely added to the price, but it's hard to get there. This trade doesn't get Winnipeg much closer to a Stanley Cup, and giving up the first and another pick for that just doesn't make much sense.
Jets Grade: C+
NHL Trade Grades: Canadiens display brilliant asset management, net haul from Jets for Sean Monahan
The Canadiens deserve all the credit in the world for the entire Sean Monahan era in Montreal. They brought him in when the Flames were desperate to shed the $6.75 million he was owed in the final year of his deal, and got a conditional first-round pick in 2025 out of it. With the way things are going in Calgary, that pick can be quite good.
Montreal then kept him around on a cheap deal for this season with the idea of flipping him at the deadline for something, but managed to somehow get another first-round pick out of it. Perfect asset management.
Monahan being 29 years old and Montreal continuing to rebuild meant that he was not going to be part of their future. The Canadiens were able to cash in as well as they could've hoped, getting a desperate Jets team to overpay to acquire Monahan. There's absolutely nothing a single Canadiens fan can complain about with this deal.
Canadiens Grade: A+