Canadiens Rumors: Another Trade Candidate Emerging on Habs Blueline

While David Savard is clearly the big name on the trade rumor mill from the Montreal Canadiens’ defense corps,  it appears that a new name might be emerging after some recent developments on the Habs blueline.

After a 15-game absence due to injury, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jordan Harris returned this week, and that has bumped Johnathan Kovacevic out of the lineup for the first time this season, raising some eyebrows among teams on the prowl for a depth D-man.

Kovacevic will once again be a scratch in Saturday night's game, and even while still in the lineup earlier this month, his minutes had taken a severe downturn from the 20 or so a game that he began this season with, down to just 12 minutes in each of two recent contests. Given all of these developments, there’s some talk that Kovacevic could be another trade candidate from the Canadiens blueline.

Montreal head coach Martin St-Louis tried to insist that Kovacevic losing his spot was not due to declining performance, but rather to the play of his recent defensive pairing partner, Jayden Struble.

“It’s more Struble’s game than (Kovacevic),” said the coach. “Struble plays with a lot of consistency and I like his behavior on the ice,” said St-Louis. He deserves to stay in."

Kovacevic was claimed off waivers last season from the Winnipeg Jets, and then won himself a permanent spot in the Canadiens defensive rotation… Up until now.

He has just five points in 33 games this year, but is sporting another strong plus-minus rating, at +4.

As a right-shot defenseman who can kill penalties and maintain a strong plus-minus, not to mention his minimum salary of just $767K through next season, if he does hit the trade market, there could be a lineup of teams coming a-calling.

The 26-year-old was a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft.

Photo: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports