Rumors had been swirling the past few days regarding the Montreal Canadiens wanting to get their hands on a young forward. They’ve done just that, making a trade with the Colorado Avalanche to acquire the rights to promising young center Alex Newhook, parting ways with their 31st and 37th overall picks in the 2023 NHL Draft, along with defenseman Gianni Fairbrother.
Already a Stanley Cup champion, the St. John’s, Newfoundland-born Newhook recorded 14 goals and 16 assists in 82 regular-season games for the Avalanche in 2022-23. They’re nice totals, but Colorado was expecting (hoping?) for him to take over the second-line center spot – a job he lost weeks into the season to J.T. Compher. After recording just one assist in seven playoff games in a first-round loss against the Seattle Kraken, the Avalanche evidently felt it was time to cut ties and get two decent draft picks in a loaded 2023 class.
A first-round pick of the Avalanche in the 2019 NHL Draft (16th overall), the 5-foot-10, 190-pound center has accumulated 27 goals and 39 assists in 159 career games. He recorded four assists in 12 playoff games during Colorado’s run to the 2022 Stanley Cup.
For Montreal, this is awfully reminiscent of last year’s Kirby Dach trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re hoping to strike gold twice after Dach emerged as a legit top-six threat for the Habs in 2022-23. In order to do that, though, they’ll need to get Newhook signed to a new contract – he’s a pending restricted free agent. It shouldn’t be much of an issue with Carey Price’s $10.5MM cap hit destined for long-term injured reserve yet again in 2023-24. NorthStar Bets’ Chris Johnston says the two sides don’t have an extension in place yet.
It did take a little more value from Montreal’s end to acquire Newhook than it did Dach, though. The late first and early second-round picks in this draft are arguably equivalent to late first-round picks in last year’s, although the 22-year-old Fairbrother is a bit of a wild card after missing the entire 2022-23 season with a knee injury. Montreal had used the 77th overall pick on him in 2019.