According to TSN Insider Pierre Lebrun, the Montreal Canadiens are going to be very active this summer, especially once the free agent market opens on July 13th. Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes had previously indicated that he wasn’t looking to build a team that would be competing for a top lottery pick every year, but rather a team built for sustained success. Lebrun’s report seems to fall directly in line with that line of thinking.
“What we’re hearing is that, yes, the Canadiens are still on the lookout for picks and prospects in their roster makeover, but further proof that this is not necessarily a traditional rebuild and more of a roster transformation is that I’m told the Habs intend to be pretty aggressive in free agency come July 13,” LeBrun said.
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It’s important to note the distinction here, as the Montreal Canadiens still intend on loading up on draft picks and prospects leading up to the trade deadline. The eventual departures of veterans like Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry or Arturri Lekhonen could help free up some much-needed Cap space for the Hughes and the Canadiens to go big-game hunting during free agency. Having the combination of high-end skill on entry-level contracts and key veterans signed right in their prime could very well be the angle the Canadiens are looking to take, and this was echoed by Lebrun.
“They hope to be a player. While they want to get younger in some parts of the team, they also want to lure a big star or two to Montreal as part of this roster transformation,” Lebrun added.
There are a lot of big names that are going to be out on the free agent market come July 13th, but the Montreal Canadiens have had difficulty attracting top unrestricted free agents in the past under Marc Bergevin. With Martin St. Louis at the helm as new head coach and the effect he’s had on the resurgence in Cole Caufield’s game, there’s reason to believe that the Canadiens could have more success in convincing free agents to choose Montreal over other markets. Having key young players like Caufield and Nick Suzuki to play with can also play a major role as well.
The Canadiens will be focused on extracting maximum value on their veterans at March 21st Trade Deadline and possibly even at the NHL Draft in July, but it’s clear that Kent Hughes wants to try and turn this around much faster than previously expected