NHL Rumors: Trade Market Heating Up on Canadiens Forward

The Montreal Canadiens have been busying answering calls on a bunch of their players as teams across the NHL try to get a sense of price tags before the March 21 trade deadline. While there's been interest in a number of Canadiens players, nobody has been asked about more than forward Artturi Lehkonen. 

The 26-year-old versatile winger is on fire of late as he's recorded a five-game point streak and currently sits tied for second on the team in goals. He's on pace for career highs in goals, assists and points and given he's still youngish, and a pending free-agent with team control, it's going to take a mega-offer for Montreal to even consider negotiating. 

Lehkonen is still one year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent and could look at either signing long-term this summer or perhaps taking a one-year deal to bet on himself once again next season. His current cap hit is $2.3 million and he can expect a significant raise in 2022-23.

As for what the market is saying about his value, some feel a second-round pick and a prospect or a first-round pick with conditions along with a prospect could be the return and frankly if it's anything less, the Canadiens should admit they got fleeced. Newly minted general manager Kent Hughes has admitted in the past the team is not trying to trade him which usually means teams are calling and they aren't the ones initiating the trade. 

Scouts had this to say recently about Lehkonen's play via Eric Engels of Sportsnet:

He’s got a rep around the league of doing everything the right way and now the puck’s going in for him. We really like him. Any team with a real chance of making the playoffs or contending would really like him. And it’s not a secret that he tends to play better under pressure. He raises his game at playoff time. I’ve seen it. A lot of us have seen it. And we talk about that stuff in meetings.

We'll have to wait until March 21 to see what the Canadiens do with Lehkonen but at this point it's going to take a huge offer for them to even consider it. Can't blame them there. 

Photo credit:  Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports