Mere minutes after the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Auston Matthews, the Montreal Canadiens and Marc Bergevin shook things up. The Habs shipped long time centre Lars Eller to the Washington Capitals for 2017 and 2018 second-round draft picks. Following that they flipped the 39th and 45th picks in this years draft to the Chicago Blackhawks for gritty forward Andrew Shaw in a shocking move.
The first trade that sent Eller to Washington is perfectly fine in it's own right, and buoys the Habs drafts in future seasons. It is likely Eller became expendable with cheaper options in Michael McCarron and Phillip Danault now in the organization, and capable of taking his defensive minutes.
Andrew Shaw comes to Montreal as a serviceable third line player with a gritty edge to his game, something Michel Therrien will certainly love. He brings at net front presence on the powerplay, and has proven to be good for roughly fifteen goals a year, thus adding some scoring depth to the Habs bottom six.
But at the cost of the Canadiens two second round picks this year it comes at a high cost for yet another gritty depth player in Montreal. Montreal doesn't often have early picks in any round, and this seems like a waste of the drafting talents of Trevor Timmins as well.
Not to mention the advanced statistics favor Eller in nearly every single category, and for a team that bleeds shots against, getting rid of arguably your best defensive centre seems counter-productive. While Eller wasn't the highest producer on offense he was still able to drive possession with a rotating cast of wingers for multiple seasons.
Shaw, on the other hand, could be the beneficiary of playing on a team including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and Artemi Panarin on a regular basis. Eller played with Phillip Danault, Devante Smith-Pelly and a host of other bottom-six forwards.
Overall, I can't say that I'm a fan of this trade. Losing a top defensive player for what seems like another depth forward isn't the type move you like to see for a team hunting for a Stanley Cup. It's even more concerning with the news that the Habs are interested in signing him to a long term extension almost immediately.
Even the two picks the Canadiens received from the Capitals aren't for another year and two years as opposed to two in the early second round this year where players like Alex DeBrincat and Samuel Girard are potentially available.
In general this trade reeks of an old school thought process that the Habs needed to get tougher, and add some sandpaper to their lineup.