On Friday, Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill confirmed that one of their younger defensemen, Julius Honka, had requested a trade out of Texas. Today, Eric Engels alluded to the idea that the Montreal Canadiens may be interested in adding the finnish rearguard.
Pursuant to @MikeHeika report that Julius Honka has requested a trade from DAL, I'm told #Habs are among a couple of teams interested. Belief is that they'd be willing to make a player-for-player swap rather than give up a pick. Believe another East team in the mix.— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) September 14, 2019
There is no word on who, exactly, but it seems that the Habs brass is reluctant to part ways with picks, and prefers a straight-up deal involving another player.
Alas, the Habs are not the only team sniffing around, as Marc Bergevin’s new nemesis, the Carolina Hurricanes, are also in the mix.
Depending on other things they are considering, CAR around this too https://t.co/FsPJ32ueEs— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 14, 2019
It doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me as a move. Honka is right-handed, so all he really does is add yet another body competing for the final spot behind Shea Weber and Jeff Petry on the right side. They already have Christian Folin, Josh Brook, Noah Juulsen, and Cale Fleury within the organization vying for that spot, so unless the organization is relatively certain that he would be better than all four of those players, it wouldn’t make sense to move assets to bring him in.
He is a good player, however, and competition is never bad when you’re trying to fill spots on a NHL blue line.
I certainly wouldn’t think it a good idea to get into a bidding war with Carolina for his services. The Hurricanes have a lot of assets, and they have clearly put an emphasis on strengthening their blueline, so if they have more to offer, I’d let the whole thing go before trying to outdo them.
Honka’s NHL numbers aren’t terrible, but they do leave something to be desired. It is also worth mentioning that Dallas left him as a healthy scratch for the bull’s share of last season, and didn’t use him at all in the playoffs. I really don’t see how you’d want to give away anything solid to get him, but Dallas may not have too much coming their way in terms of offers either.
Now, if the player going the other way was, say Karl Alzner, it could make considerably more sense for the Habs. This would get them out of a contract they clearly no longer want, and add some young talent to an already deep pool.
That seems to be a bit of wishful thinking, as I doubt Dallas would be interested in taking on a contract of an aging defender that has somewhat lost his place in the NHL. It is more likely Dallas would want a forward, perhaps someone along the lines of Charles Hudon. This too could be palatable for the Habs, since they don’t really seem to have place for him in their NHL lineup anyways. The trick here seems to be getting a deal with Dallas that doesn’t hurt the Canadiens anywhere else in their lineup, if they’re going to do this.
As of this writing, this is all merely conjecture, but something to follow considering that the Habs have shown interest.