The Montreal Canadiens have some players left to sign and some future cap space they’d like to free up, which means they likely aren’t done moving salary this summer.
With the Canadiens so close to the salary cap and some restricted free agents left to sign, it doesn’t appear like the Montreal Canadiens are done tinkering with their roster just yet. General manager Kent Hughes has already indicated that the Canadiens will be looking to make some more moves this summer, and this was echoed by executive vice president Jeff Gorton during his recent visit to the Bob McCown Podcast.
“Yes, you can always do more. We’d like to add a few things before the start of next season,” said Gorton when asked if the Canadiens were done moving players this offseason. “Whether that happens, I don’t know. We have 15-16 forwards up front already and we have some young players we want to take a look at on defence and at forward. We could do something in the next little while too.”
The Canadiens are looking to shed cap space in the immediate and long-term future, stressing that retention isn’t on the table, favouring the long-term outlook of their salary structure over their short term. If they are to make some space under the cap, with Shea Weber‘s contract and Jeff Petry already moved, here are the likeliest cap casualty candidates.
Christian Dvorak has become the subject of numerous NHL trade rumours this summer and, according to one NHL executive source, there’s some smoke around Dvorak on the NHL trade market.
Christian Dvorak is heading into the fourth season of a six-year contract that carries a $4.45 AAV. He is coming off what could easily be described as a bad season with 11 goals and 15 assists in 56 games. However, there was a drastic improvement and jump in his game after he returned from a two-month hiatus with a lower-body injury and started playing under newly hired head coach Martin St. Louis. Dvorak would close the season out with four goals and 13 assists in 22 games under St. Louis and according to this same source, that definitely made him more attractive on the NHL trade market.
“His name has been out there since before the NHL trade deadline but I hear it way more now,” this source told Montreal Hockey Now late Tuesday afternoon. “I can’t see Dvorak starting the season with the Canadiens. There’s way more than smoke there and with such a reasonable contract, there’s plenty of teams, especially contenders that need a centre and are interested in him.”
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, which 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 favour and take on a lesser, short-term contract too, as we saw in the Weber deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Mike Hoffman is an interesting candidate to move. With two years left on his deal worth $4.5M on the cap, he won’t necessarily be the easiest contract to move at this junction; but any team looking for a powerplay specialist winger capable of potting 20 goals a season on a competitive team need look no further. He wasn’t able to find his bearings in Montreal on the powerplay, as the first wave was given primarily to Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki to run by the mid-point of the season, but his work on the man advantage is well documented and could allow for a creative deal to transpire.
Similarly to the strategy with Armia, it may require the Canadiens to take on a short-term contract to make the money work with a prospective team, but there is in fact some interest in Hoffman on the market; it’s just a question of letting the market sit and waiting. The free agent frenzy has now come and gone, and teams will be looking at other ways to bring in goal scoring between now and training camp, and that could be prime time for Hughes and Gorton to move this contract and gain some flexibility, as they are very deep at left-wing at the moment.