Stu Cowan: Canadiens' Jordan Harris would have value on trade market

There’s a lot to like about young defenceman as a player and a person and it’s understandable why other teams would be interested in him.

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TSN has two Canadiens among the 45 players listed on its Trade Bait board ahead of Friday’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline.

Not surprisingly, the two Canadiens are veteran goalie Jake Allen at No. 14 and veteran defenceman David Savard at No. 30.

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When Sportsnet recently released its list of 30 players most likely to be trade candidates before the deadline, it included four Canadiens: Allen and Savard, along with veteran forward Tanner Pearson and young defenceman Jordan Harris.

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Harris’s name is the one that really jumped out, but it’s understandable why Sportsnet put the 23-year-old on the list along with the three veterans. The Canadiens are already loaded with young defencemen and will have to open spots for prospects like Lane Hutson, Logan Mailloux and David Reinbacher in the future.

Hutson, selected in the second round (62nd overall) of the 2022 NHL Draft, has 12-27-39 totals in 30 games as a sophomore at Boston University. He is expected to sign with the Canadiens after his NCAA seasons ends and will probably make his NHL debut before the end of this season.

“The Canadiens need to make room for Lane Hutson, and moving Harris seems like one of the ways that might happen,” Sportsnet wrote. “He has already established his floor as a third-pairing defenceman in this league, but he still has a ceiling that can push him up some team’s lineup. There’s some untapped offence there, and that should be enticing. Harris’s defensive profile should be attractive, too. For just $1.4 million against the cap next season, there’s reason to believe he can help now and prove to be a valuable piece for the future. We can think of at least one team that’ll be moving defencemen out and looking to replace them between now and the deadline — watch out for the Calgary Flames on this one.”

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The Flames traded 27-year-old defenceman Noah Hanifan to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday in a three-way deal that included the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flames received 26-year-old defenceman Daniil Miromanov, a first-round pick at the 2025 NHL Draft and a conditional third-round pick in 2025. The Golden Knights are now loaded on defence with Hanifan, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb and Alec Martinez.

When I mentioned the Sportsnet list to Harris last week before the Canadiens left on a four-game road trip, he said he hadn’t seen it.

When then asked for his reaction to being on the list, Harris paused for a few seconds before saying: “I don’t know … I think it’s one of those things that you hope doesn’t happen. Especially being here last year and this year and being drafted here. But that stuff’s kind of out of your control as a player. You try to just be the best version of yourself and that’s the one thing you can control at the end of the day.

“I’ve loved my time here in Montreal and hope that I can stay here as long as possible,” Harris added. “But that stuff’s kind of out of your hands.”

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The Canadiens selected Harris in the third round (71st overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft. The Massachusetts native, who played four seasons at Northeastern University before joining the Canadiens, has embraced everything about playing in Montreal, including the French language.

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“I love living in this French-speaking world that is Montreal,” Harris recently told Anthony Martineau of TVA Sports. “I find it fascinating, to be honest. I know some other American players would probably say things like: ‘Ah, everything is in French in Montreal, it’s difficult. I don’t like it.’ Me, on the contrary, I find that it forces you to learn, to take an interest in something else.”

There’s a lot to like about Harris as a player and a person. It’s understandable why other teams would be interested in him, and it’s also understandable why Canadiens GM Kent Hughes might be willing to trade him — possibly as part of a package to try to acquire a potential top-six forward either ahead of Friday’s deadline or, more likely, during the offseason.

The arrival of Jayden Struble has bumped Harris and others down the Canadiens’ depth chart on defence. Harris has been made a healthy scratch four times since the arrival of Struble and missed three other games because of injuries. Johnathan Kovacevic has been a healthy scratch 11 times since Struble arrived, and Justin Barron was sent down to Laval.

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The internal competition on the Canadiens’ blue line will get even more intense as this rebuild continues.

“If anything, it’s good,” Harris said about that competition. “At every single level there’s competiton. There was competition when I was in high school, there was competition when I got to college. You realize, at the end of the day, you’re teammates. We all have the same goals. One of us improving will only improve the whole group. Obviously, the competition’s a lot stiffer at the NHL level than college or anywhere else, but it’s good because it pushes everyone, and that’s what you want.”

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