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The Montreal Canadiens’ Likeliest Cap Casualities This Off-Season

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens have holes everywhere in their lineup, but, in order to fill those holes moving forward to ensure sustainable success, they’re going to need to shed some salary this summer.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes has been open about his need for financial relief under the NHL Salary Cap. During his end-of-season interview, he reinforced his desire to go into the summer to relieve the Habs of some big salaries.

“We’ll look at different options in terms of gaining some cap flexibility,” said Hughes on his summer plans. “We’re not going to try to free up cap space for next season that costs us prospects or draft picks to make us better next year and then hurt us 2-3 years from now.”

There are options for Hughes and the Montreal Canadiens to give themselves the Cap space needed to make some changes this summer. Yes, the Canadiens could use LTIR with Weber and possibly even Price, but it would remove any flexibility the Canadiens would have of making in-season trades or significant changes to their roster. Below are the players the Montreal Canadiens likeliest to be sacrificed to help the team accrue some much-needed Cap space.

 

Trading Shea Weber’s Contract

Trading Shea Weber’s contract has been something that Hughes has openly discussed for over two months now. He claimed to have come very close to moving the contract at the NHL Trade Deadline, but that a last-minute change squashed the deal. Hughes doubled down on his desire to move Weber’s contract this summer, claiming that Weber’s playing days are over.

TSN Insider Darren Dreger confirmed on the airwaves of TSN 690 earlier in May to shed some light on what really held up the trading of Shea Weber’s contract.

“It does get a little bit more complicated as Kent Hughes alluded to in reference to Shea Weber because of insurance attachments,” said Dreger on why Shea Weber wasn’t moved prior to Trade Deadline. ” That’s really the reason Weber’s contract didn’t get moved to the Arizona Coyotes. Just because there was more paperwork that needed to be done and more money that needed to be paid out.”

Dreger went into detail pointing out that both Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens were ready to make a deal, but Arizona grew impatient and decided to go another route to acquire the contract of a player on career-ending Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) in the form of Bryan Little from Winnipeg.

“All parties felt very strongly that they were going to get something done (at Trade Deadline),” said Dreger on a Weber trade falling through prior to March 21. “It’s just insurance-related, and Kent Hughes kind of nibbled at it. They just needed more time and Arizona had other interests out there at the time and clearly moved on it.”

Dreger concluded his segment with the belief that it’s only a question of time before Weber’s contract is moved to Arizona, who has many contracts coming off the books this summer, or other interested teams who need the LTIR relief.

“It got to a place with Montreal and Arizona specifically where they just couldn’t close it off,” said Dreger. “I don’t think it’s certain, but it’s pretty likely they’ll revisit; if not Arizona, somebody else.”

McLean's Pub

 

Moving Jeff Petry

Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes confirmed on April 24 that he had a potential deal in place for Jeff Petry before the NHL Trade Deadline, which fell through.

Hughes took to the airwaves of TSN during the 1st intermission of the Canadiens-Panthers game last night to talk about his activity during the NHL Trade Deadline period. He answered many questions about what did and did not happen before 3 pm on Monday, but the topic that grabbed everyone’s attention was Jeff Petry.

“We had conversations with a group of teams. As you know, when you’re working on a Trade Deadline, most of the teams looking to acquire that kind of player are close to the Cap,” said Hughes in regards to the difficult task of moving Petry’s contract mid-season. “Acquiring a contract for multiple years at that number becomes a challenge; it’s probably more likely an offseason move. We did have conversations, and there was one team in particular that we thought might materialize and make sense for both clubs, but in the end, Jeff’s here.”

Jeff Petry’s play under Martin St. Louis, which saw him rack up 21 points in just 29 games, is sure to increase the interest in the veteran defender this summer. With competitive clubs looking to improve their defence, Petry’s unique blend of speed and offence could be of great interest, as clubs enter the offseason with much more financial flexibility than they had during the Trade Deadline.

There won’t be many top-4 right-shooting defencemen available on the market this year that will impact a game quite like Petry is capable of doing. Petry’s name has already been linked to the Dallas Stars and the Pittsburgh Penguins prior so far this off-season, and more teams could join the mix as the summer continues.

Moving Joel Armia

According to multiple NHL sources, Montreal Canadiens winger Joel Armia was a popular name on the NHL Trade Market heading into the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline but ultimately stayed put with the Canadiens. Well, it appears that Armia’s performance at the 2022 IIHF World Championships, that helped propel Finland to their second Gold Medal this year, has generated some trade buzz around the Canadiens winger.

“Decision makers noticed him from what I’m told and if the Habs wanted to try and move him again, there may not be a better time,” an NHL source told Montreal Hockey Now.

After two straight 14-point seasons – but also a solid showing with five goals and three assists in 21 2021 Stanley Cup Playoff games – it’s hard to gauge what Armia’s value on the NHL Trade market would be this offseason but his five goals and three assists (including a goal in the 4-3 overtime win to claim Gold over Canada) has seemingly created some NHL Trade buzz around the 28-year-old Canadiens winger. However, the $3.4 million cap hit Joel Armia carries for the next three seasons could mean the Canadiens do their trade partner a favor and take on a lesser contract too.

Evidently, Hughes and the Montreal Canadiens have many options they could choose to shed some salary this summer, as they look to increase their Cap flexibility to make some big moves. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here, but it should make for a very entertaining offseason.

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