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Canadiens' Joel Edmundson is the subject of trade rumors for the first time in his career

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Joel Edmundson is 29 years old, playing his eighth season in the NHL, and this is the first time in his career that he has been the subject of trade rumors.

“It’s hard to avoid it in this market, you turn on the TV or go on social media. … Honestly, it’s something I’ve never really experienced before,” Edmundson said Friday. In St. Louis, I had the feeling that I was going to be traded and it happened. So no surprise there. Then I signed in Montreal, and it’s kind of the first time that I arrived.

The Golden Rule: Stay away from Twitter. There’s plenty of time before the NHL trade deadline on March 3, and getting caught up in rumors won’t do him any good. What Edmundson did, however, was express to the team his wish to stay in Montreal and the fact that he loved playing for the Canadiens. The communication channels with Managing Director Kent Hughes are therefore open.

“Kent does a good job of talking to a few of us and just telling us what’s on his mind,” Edmundson said. “Communication is important, and I think it just helps us relax a bit and just focus on playing with this team. I put everything aside on that side, and just focus on this team right now. That’s all I can do.

The Canadiens would surely like to move several players who still have years left on their contract, but Edmundson is one of the few likely to attract interest from other teams. When you consider his playing profile — very useful in the playoffs — and the fact that he has another year left on his $3.5 million contract, he could pique the interest of Stanley Cup contenders looking valuable, especially in a context where the salary cap may not increase much next season.

That said, everyone has their own puzzle to solve, and there are teams that will continue to face the cap next year, and for them, the year remaining in Edmundson’s contract would be problematic. . But for other teams with multiple contracts expiring this summer (like Washington, New Jersey or Toronto), perhaps the cost certainty that that extra year provides could make Edmundson more attractive.

The list of the top four defensemen whose contracts expire at the end of the 2023-24 season and who play for teams that will likely miss the playoffs this spring is extremely short.

Player Team Age Cape reached Time on the ice

VAN

32

$6 million

20:41

ISP

27

$5 million

24:06

Montreal

29

$3.5 million

20:02

FLORIDA

28

$3.5 million

24:52

FLORIDA

26

$2.67 million

24:02

And that list could go on and on because it’s hard to see the Florida Panthers getting rid of Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling given their lack of depth on defense.

The fact that Edmundson has missed a lot of hockey over the past two years due to a back injury may cause some teams to hesitate. There’s a whole range of nuances between being able to play despite discomfort and a completely healed injury.

However, Edmundson is happy to say that the injury that has caused him to miss 68 games since the start of last season is now just a bad memory.

“You ask anyone who plays hockey, with the travel and the game we play, you’re going to have back pain here and there,” Edmundson said. “For me, I think my injury is a thing of the past. Now, if I have back pain, it’s just a typical hockey back. You sit on the plane for a long time and it’s not easy. So a lot of guys have little back injuries here and there. But my injury from last year and the start of the year, I don’t even think about it right now. It feels good.”

Edmundson isn’t playing at the same level as his previous two years in Montreal, but with such a young group of defensemen, the responsibilities given to veterans like him and David Savard have increased tenfold, and that’s a factor to consider. .

There’s no reason things shouldn’t return to normal for Edmundson, but we’ll have to see what impact partner Kaiden Guhle’s absence will have on his game.

The 20-year-old rookie will miss at least the next eight weeks with a left knee injury he sustained Dec. 29 in Florida in a collision with Aleksander Barkov. Guhle had an excellent first season, providing a well-rounded and mature game for a defender straight out of the junior ranks who was asked to play his offside.

Edmundson admits the loss of Guhle will be significant because the level of composure the rookie brings to his game, even against the best opposing lines since his NHL debut, makes him special.

“For such a young guy, he’s so professional at this young age, it’s pretty impressive,” Edmundson said. “You know, as older guys, we try to talk to him after every shift, but a lot of shifts, there’s not much to say. Keep it pretty basic there, which helps his game a lot. He doesn’t get himself into too much trouble, and if he does, he’s good enough that he can fix that mistake right away.

With Brendan Gallagher out for at least two more weeks, Paul Byron out since the start of the year, Sean Monahan not yet ready to return and first-year captain Nick Suzuki struggling with a crisis for the first time since he got the “C” on his jersey, Edmundson is more than ever a key veteran of the Canadiens leadership. He is the big brother that the others listen to and his coach sees the influence he has on the young defenders of the team.

“You can’t convince me that Joel Edmundson isn’t having a good year,” coach Martin St. Louis said Friday afternoon. “A big reason why our young defensemen are comfortable on the ice, comfortable coming back to the arena every day and comfortable in the locker room is thanks to guys like Joel Edmundson. . It’s easy to look at the stats and say it has no impact, but you can’t make me believe that.

The assistant captain recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy atmosphere around the Canadiens in their current situation, and he tries to convey the positive message sent by the coaching group. And if he’s been grumpier lately, it’s more because of the way the club have been playing than because of his own game.

“I would say the last two weeks have been quite frustrating. But if so, I take it home and take care of it at home,” he said. “But when I’m at the rink, I’m always positive and in a good mood. I mean, there are no bad days in the NHL. Time flies when you’re in this league, so you have to take advantage of it every time you come to the rink. There’s nothing more fun and enjoyable than stepping into the rink with your teammates, your brothers. So yeah, some days you come home from a game and you’re pissed off, but you have to come to the rink the next day with a smile on your face.

The question is, how much longer will Edmundson bring his smile to Brossard? The Canadiens don’t have to trade him this year if they believe Edmundson can offer them a better return next season. But while his spotty play this season might dampen interest, his playoff ability could make a significant difference.

For a Stanley Cup contender, counting on Edmundson for two playoffs instead of one, especially at a reasonable salary, is certainly food for thought.

(Photo: David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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