While the weather starts to freeze here in Montreal, so too will the NHL’s rosters. The annual Christmas holiday roster freeze runs from December 19th to the 27th and struggling teams like the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers could look to make a move to save their dwindling playoff hopes.
The Oilers’ GM Peter Chiarelli and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin already have a transaction history together dating back to 2015’s move for Jeff Petry and last year’s Brandon Davidson for David Desharnais swap.
While Edmonton is struggling to add more offence to their roster, the Canadiens haven’t stopped their search for a true first-line centre.
Before the Oilers’ and Canadiens’ seasons plummet even further, it might be interesting to flirt with a Max Pacioretty for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade. Both teams could add a much-needed gift under their Christmas tree before the freeze.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a first overall pick in the 2011 draft – he’s an established centre with two 50-point campaigns under his belt, is only 24 years old, and is on pace for a career high in goals.
Nugent-Hopkins has already demonstrated he has first line centre capabilities that he has since surrendered to Connor McDavid. McDavid, is constantly switching between Patrick Maroon and Milan Lucic as his first line left winger.
Pacioretty is a prolific scorer in the NHL with five 30-goal seasons on his resume. Both teams would benefit from the swap; Pacioretty would become the surefire left-winger to McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins would become the definite first-line centre for the Habs.
Having dished out massive contracts to both McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers will eventually have to find a way to deal with Nugent-Hopkins and his $6 million dollar cap hit before it expires in 2021. Pacioretty on the other hand, owns a friendly $4.5 million salary until 2019.
The resurrection of forward Brendan Gallagher for the Habs could make Pacioretty expendable if it means getting back the right asset. Jonathan Drouin would be able to slide back to his natural position as winger alongside Alex Galchenyuk centred by Nugent-Hopkins.
For the Oilers, Pacioretty would provide depth and scoring to their constantly changing lines. Draisaitl could slot in to the second line unit with either Maroon or Lucic on his wing.
With both teams currently sitting outside of a playoff spot, the trade would certainly heat up both lineups up before their season freezes.