a logical candidate to be the “Kirby Dach of 2024”

Since Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton are at the helm of the Canadiens, we are starting to see patterns who return from the duo of CH leaders. For example, in each of the management duo’s two off-seasons, the club secured a young striker who was available within their current lineup.

It started with Kirby Dach in the summer of 2022, acquired from the Blackhawks on draft night. Then, a year later, Alex Newhook was acquired from Colorado the day before the draft.

And given that CH is still lacking significant offensive talent within its organization, one might think the club would like to complete a third such transaction.

The name of Trevor Zegras has been heard in recent weeks, but in his text of the day, Marc de Foy mentioned another name: Casey Mittelstadt.

We are talking here about the former Sabers center who was traded to the Avalanche for Bowen Byram a few weeks ago.

Obviously, if we take into account that the Avalanche gave up Byram for Mittelstadt, we can think that the Colorado team would like to retain the services of its center back. On the other hand, there is a potential problem emerging in Colorado: money is starting to become a scarce commodity for the 2022 champions.

As of today, the Avalanche only have $11.325 million available under the salary cap for next season… and when we look at all the players who will become free agents in a few weeks, we suspect it won’t be enough to bring in all of lap.

(Credit: CapFriendly)

Since Mittelstadt is having a great season (52 points in 68 games), we should expect him to receive a big salary increase for next season. Let’s go with a fairly conservative prediction: I don’t see him signing for less than $7 million per year.

A core player scoring points like that is worth it, especially since Mittelstadt already has five points in six games in Colorado and can continue to increase his value during the playoffs.

Here’s where Colorado will have to make some big decisions: Is it better to pay a lot of money to keep Mittelstadt and let a bunch of big names go… or sign more players at lower salaries?

The case of Jonathan Drouin could tip the balance. For example: he won’t cost as much as Mittelstadt, and his 43 points in 67 games are more than respectable. Is it better to keep Drouin and one or two other players, or pay Mittelstadt?

The other big question is what is Gabriel Landeskog’s health status. The captain is in the LTIR Right now, but if he is willing to return, his salary will have to take into account the pool. On the other hand, if he has to miss all of next season, the Avalanche will have $18.325 million to spend, and keeping Mittelstadt becomes much more realistic.

But if Landeskog is ready to return, the Avalanche could opt to trade Mittelstadt for a quality return (e.g. one of the good defensive prospects in CH) and take the money saved to keep other players in town.

That said, the CH won’t be alone in the race for Mittelstadt’s services if he’s available, but we know the lines of communication are good between Kent Hughes and Chris MacFarland. There was the exchange of Alex Newhook, but also that of Artturi Lehkonen.

Therefore, we will see if this materializes in another transaction for a young forward with the CH, but at 25 years old (he will turn 26 in November), Mittelstadt is ready to be an important piece in the top-6 of a team that aspires to return to the playoffs shortly.

And when we know that the Canadian wants players of the same age as his core, a center back a year older than Nick Suzuki may be more relevant than a young man who is “behind” the rest of the core.

A lot

– It will do good for the club.

– Indeed.

– News of CH’s European hopes.

– However.

– It is very underestimated.

– That doesn’t make any sense.

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