The Montreal Canadiens have announced they have come to terms with Mitchell Stephens on a one-year, two-way contract.
Stephens, 26, scored 20 goals and 21 assists in 68 games with the Canadiens AHL affiliate last season, the Laval Rocket.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) July 10, 2023
Stephens finished third in scoring during his first season with the Rocket, providing crucial secondary scoring for head coach Jean-Francois Houle.
As has been well advertised, the Canadiens set a few records last season, though, not the kind of records the team will want to celebrate. They led the entire league in man-games lost due to injuries for the second consecutive year, which led to a bevy of call-ups from the AHL. Consequently, Houle was forced to juggle his lineup ad nauseam as his team’s best players were pilfered by the parent club.
Stephens will join a revamped offensive lineup in the AHL next season that features more legitimate prospects than usual.
With the Stephens signing in the books, Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes only has four contracts left to finalize. Two of them should be fairly straightforward, as both Nicolas Beaudin and Lucas Condotta are likely to sign team-friendly deals that will eventually see the pair assigned to the AHL.
The remaining two deals will be a little more complicated.
Hughes will have to re-sign restricted free agent Jesse Ylonen, who had six goals and 10 assists in 37 games for the Canadiens last season. Ylonen, 23, is waiver-eligible this season, adding an extra layer to the contract negotiations.
But the most important situation remains the Alex Newhook extension.
Newhook, 22, is expected to sign a contract that will pay him roughly $3.1 million per season. According to Hughes, the annual average value has already been decided upon, but the two parties are still looking to come to an agreement on the length of the extension.
All Montreal Canadiens salary cap information via CapFriendly.