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Canadiens Analysis

Canadiens Projected Lineup Salary Cap Outlook For Free Agency



Montreal Canadiens

Now that the Montreal Canadiens have finalized their qualifying offers, we have a much better idea of their salary cap situation.

And it’s the perfect timing, seeing as the NHL’s free agency window opens on July 1 at 12 PM ET.

Approximate Projected Lineup

We can safely assume the Habs will not re-sign Denis Gurianov, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Belzile, Paul Byron, Chris Tierney, Anthony Richard, Frederic Allard, Madison Bowey, and Corey Schueneman.

However, if they do decide to re-sign a few players that are destined to play for the Laval Rocket, it’s unlikely to impact their NHL salary cap. NHL Teams can bury up to $1.125 million on each contract by assigning players to the AHL.

Thanks to CapFriendly’s excellent roster-building tool, we can get a better idea of what the lineup might look like and how much salary cap space the Canadiens could potentially have.

In our scenario, Rem Pitlick, Michael Pezzetta, and Chris Wideman have been assigned to the AHL, thus nullifying their cap hits. We’ve also placed Jake Evans in the AHL, though that may not align with the Canadiens’ intentions. The other option would be to assign Jesse Ylonen to the AHL, but he must go through waivers next year and there’s a decent chance he’d be claimed.

Ideally, Kent Hughes would trade one of the overpriced veterans in the lineup, but for now, we’ll project the lineup with those veterans included seeing as there seem to be no bites on the trade market for their services.

We also have to estimate how much Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Alex Newhook, and Jesse Ylonen will make next year, leaving us with the following lineup (lines and pairings subject to change):

Canadiens defence and goalie projected

Salary Cap Space

Things can and will change, but for now, we’re working with a lineup that will account for $76.8 million of the available salary cap space once we include Carey Price’s LTIR relief ($10.5 million), 2022-23 bonus overages ($1.17 million), and the final year of Karl Alzner’s buy-out ($833,333).

The team also has to keep in mind that Juraj Slafkovsky’s contract carries significant bonuses if he reaches certain benchmarks.

Unfortunately, the relief funds they receive from placing Price’s contract on the long-term injured reserve do not accrue throughout the season.

That leaves the Montreal Canadiens will roughly $6.69 million in available salary cap space with 23 roster players signed, giving them some maneuverability as the NHL’s free agency window opens, though not very much.

As previously stated, it’s quite apparent that players like Christian Dvorak, Mike Hoffman, and Joel Armia are absorbing an unreasonable portion of the salary cap, and a trade would lead to significant cap relief. The same can be said about defencemen Joel Edmundson and David Savard.

If Hughes can somehow manage to move one of the aforementioned players, not only would the Montreal Canadiens no longer have to place someone like Evans on waivers, they’d have much more money to work with if they choose to sign a free agent or make a trade that includes a player on an expiring contract, like they did last season when they acquired Sean Monahan and a first-round pick from the Flames.

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With so many teams in severe cap crunches, my guess is any players like Evans, Ylönen, Pitlick, Wideman, Primeau etc. on cheap contracts would be snapped up in an instant if we tried to pass them through waivers to send them to Laval. The major overcrowding at all positions HAS to be dealt with before training camp, and I’d say today is the best opportunity to move anyone. The longer we wait, the more teams fill out their rosters, the less spaces are open to move our guys. I still think Armia will get bought out when the next window opens later this summer, but guys like Edmundson and Hoffman should be able to get moved right now if we don’t worry about getting any kind of return. Far better players are being given away for free right now. We need to basically do the same. Cap space is trumping talent right now so the prices for good NHL players has probably never been lower. Unfortunately that’s the case, but it doesn’t change the fact that we have to move out at least 3 Dmen, several forwards and a goalie. Bite the bullet, rip off the bandaid, whatever, but it has to been done.


Buying out anyone doesn’t make sense. They think this coming season MAY be a push for the playoffs (it won’t be) but after that, the push actually does begin. Carrying dead cap money into that time is not great at all. It’s better to eat the contracts now and save that money later. Especially when you consider that we DO have some space right now, and likely will get a bit more. Edmundson, if he stays healthy, will still fetch a return especially if we retain half. It may not be a first, but we can definitely get something. Dvorak is a centre, retaining on him as well should be enough for us to not have to pay someone to take him, though we won’t be getting much at all unless a team is super desperate for a 3C (also have to b careful about retention slots). Hoffman we may need to give up assets to get rid of. However, with the cap space we’d save from these 3 moves alone, we could take back more bad 1yr contracts for assets that more than make up for what we’d have to pay.
Armia and Gallagher are unmoveable (I really hope gally can stay healthy. I love him and hate that he has essentially become a broken shell of himself and is now just eating cap space, though he does provide leadership) and Savard they seem to want to keep around (I’m assuming cuz they want to keep at least some vets for the young blue line, which I get).
But we will only be able to make moves AFTER free agency dies down. No one is going to give up assets for players, or risk taking on our bad contracts, when they have a shot at players for free and can dictate the contract terms. Today is NOT the day we will be able to do anything. We’ll have to wait for teams who miss out on FAs to circle back.
But we have space, can get more, and don’t really need to sign anything except the cheap, qualified RFAs. Just have to hope enough teams strike out today/in the next few days to want to trade with us. I’m not overly optimistic. We may have to pay to move Hoffman early just to open that roster space (I don’t see AHL being an option). But Hughes has made moves I didn’t see coming that have worked very well, so fingers crossed.


To clarify, the above is with the context that we shouldn’t just give away players with value, let alone additional assets. So paying for someone to take Edmundson (and even perhaps Dvorak) doesn’t make sense. Others like Hoffman won’t be options to move until AFTER FAs are gone cuz teams can just acquire from the market. The remaining ppl are unmoveable, as described.


Aaaand we were both wrong. We got comething for Edmundson (though it was underwhelming), and we didn’t have to wait until after FA. Oh well lol


I think we agree on most points and are saying pretty much the same thing with just some minor tweaks. To be clear, I have no desire to add sweeteners to move guys. I hate buyouts and giving away guys for free but it may be necessary in order to not lose kids on waivers. An Armia buyout isn’t prohibitive at all. We’d save cap space this season (and more importantly open a roster spot for a waiver eligible kid), and then have a little buyout cost for the following year and that’s it. With the cap set to jump significantly that season, that tiny buyout hit will be negligible. Today is a great day to trade guys like Edmundson, Hoffman, etc. for the exact reasons I already said and you did too. Teams that miss out on the FA they want will need a plan B. Those plans should already be in the works and not wait until after they lose the guy the wanted in order to expedite the process. GMs have many irons in the fire and each would have their plan A (free agent) and plan B (trade). They all would have expressed in their calls, “We’re trying to get player X, but if that falls through, what do you want for your guy?” (super oversimplified of course). Those trades usually happen today so that the team that lost out on the free agent still walk away with a player they need to fill a hole.


Hoffman I hope could be moved on a expiring contract. If not, I’m good with keeping him if we can at least remove Armia and Dvorak.