The Montreal Canadiens had a free agent target in mind for this off-season, but rather than wait until October 9th they have decided to pull the trigger now. The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that they have traded impending unrestricted free agent defenseman Joel Edmundson to the Canadiens. The return for Carolina is a 2020 fifth-round pick.
The Canadiens now have nearly a month to negotiate exclusively with Edmundson on a new contract. A relatively young UFA at 27, Edmundson would be a great addition for the Habs. Edmundson showed this season that he is more than just his 6’4”, 215-lb. frame, posting both a career high 20 points and showing he is reliable defender with a career-best 55% defensive zone starts. Edmundson was less a rugged stay-at-home defender and more of a refined, two-way contributor for Carolina and the Canadiens hope that he can continue to grow in that role. Edmundson has also shown back in his days with the St. Louis Blues that he is capable of playing big minutes, which would provide even more value to Montreal moving forward. Given the lack of high-end talent on the Montreal blue line behind aging Shea Weber and 2021 free agent Jeff Petry, Edmundson could land a long-term deal with the Canadiens to lead a new generation of defenders, such as Victor Mete and Alexander Romanov.
On the other side, the Hurricanes have to be happy with landing a decent pick (No. 140 overall) for a player they seemed unlikely to re-sign anyhow. Edmundson was acquired by Carolina just last summer as part of a package from the St. Louis for Justin Faulk. While Edmundson was a valuable member of a very good ‘Canes team this year, prospect Dominik Bokk was always seen as the true prize in the return for Faulk. Edmundson was on an expiring contract and was joining the deepest defense core in the league, making him a likely rental candidate. The Hurricanes’ impressive blue line depth only improved this season as well, as the team acquired Brady Skjei and saw flashes of brilliance from young Haydn Fleury, who will join Jaccob Slavin, Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, and Jake Gardiner as the likely starters next year.