Confirmed : a young defenseman is expected to depart this summer

Carl Vaillancourt
April 26, 2024  (6:25 PM)

Justin Barron
Photo credit: H30

Open secret in the Bell Centre office tower, Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is looking to add offensive talent to his top-6 to support Alex Newhook and Kirby Dach next season.

With the exception of the first line, which picked up steam in the latter half of the season, the offensive contributions from Martin St-Louis's other three offensive lines were too timid.
Journalist David Pagnotta, known for the quality of his sources in the NHL, has just confirmed this!

Kent Hughes wants to trade a young defenseman for a forward

Here's what just came out, via The Fourth Period.
"Montreal Canadiens want to add a scorer this summer, and they plan to use some of their young defensemen as bait. General Manager of the Tricolore, Kent Hughes, is not afraid to hit the 'accept' button to conclude a trade around the NHL Draft, and that seems to be his goal once again in June." - Pagnotta

We'll remember the deal that allowed the Habs to acquire center Kirby Dach. The three-team trade had allowed the Islanders to acquire Russian Alexander Romanov, then the Chicago Blackhawks acquired the 13th pick in the draft. They finally chose American Frank Nazar.
Among the most coveted targets next summer are obviously former teammate of Cole Caufield with the U.S. U20 team, Trevor Zegras. Besides the Ducks' player who had a rather tough season, there's Martin Necas, Casey Mittelstadt, and Pavel Buchnevich. Two of them are restricted free agents, but Kent Hughes is willing to pay the price for talent. He proved it with Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook.
As for the identity of the defenseman most likely to be traded, we should look to former Colorado Avalanche player Justin Barron. There are other possibilities for young left-handed defensemen like Jayden Struble, Jordan Harris, or Arber Xhekaj. The right side promises to be strong for several years, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Barron move on to other teams and picks to acquire a forward capable of fitting into the top-6, and for several years.
If you were in Kent Hughes's shoes, what would you do?
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