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Alzner Buyout Important Reminder For Canadiens Management



Montreal Canadiens buyout Karl Alzner

The Montreal Canadiens have some maneuverability when it comes to their salary cap situation.

Of course, if the Canadiens manage to trade Carey Price’s contract rather than placing it on the long-term injured reserve, they will start to accrue salary cap space, which is a better situation for a team looking to absorb an expiring contract in exchange for a high-end asset, much like the Habs did when they acquired Sean Monahan.

MUST READ: How the Canadiens’ salary cap situation is influenced by Carey Price’s LTIR contract

Alzner Allocation

Even if the Canadiens do not manage to move Price’s contract, there’s still a possibility that general manager Kent Hughes could trade one of the remaining overpriced veterans in the lineup.

But if history is any indication, it will be a rather difficult proposal.

Thankfully, the Canadiens have a perfect example, or rather, a nice reminder of the importance of avoiding paying veterans for their past accomplishments.

2023-24 marks the final year in which the Canadiens will be on the hook for Karl Alzner’s buyout. The $833,333 owed to Alzner is not a significant portion of the allotted salary cap.

In fact, it’s less than one percent.

But it stands out like a sore thumb among the Canadiens’ salary cap expenditures and offers us an opportunity to look back at the situation before Alzner arrived in Montreal.

The Canadiens were fresh off an excellent season in 2016-17 that saw them finish as the dominant team in the Atlantic Division, earning 103 points along the way. They were quickly eliminated from the playoffs, a first-round loss to the Rangers that left the team wondering what they needed to do to take the next step toward Stanley Cup contention.

They decided that signing a free agent such as Alzner, who was known as a stay-at-home defenceman with limited upside, was the right way forward.

But they didn’t just offer him a very rich contract that accounted for over six percent of the salary cap. The team gave the 28-year-old defenceman a guided helicopter tour of the city in a desperate attempt to solidify their bid, which was already far and away the biggest offer Alzner had received.

The goal here isn’t to denigrate Alzner. He is one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet in the hockey world.

Rather, it’s important to note that at the time, there were clear warning signs that offering Alzner a big contract had a high chance of backfiring.

Unsurprisingly, Alzner quickly signed the five-year, $23.125 million contract offer, and even less surprisingly, the Canadiens had no choice but to buy out the deal just a few years later.

Moving Forward

As we sit and wonder how Hughes will manage to alleviate salary cap space, the issue of overpaid veterans once again comes to the forefront.

Players like Joel Armia, Christian Dvorak, and Mike Hoffman are clearly the odd-men out when it comes to constructing a viable, cap-compliant roster that can contender in the modern NHL.

The same can be said about Brendan Gallagher’s contract, which served as a reward for a player who had shed blood, sweat, and tears for the franchise.

But that reward will soon turn into an anchor if Gallagher continues to produce declining numbers.

And it reminds us that in the future, despite how tempting it may be, bolstering the lineup with players that are soon to be on the wrong side of 30 doesn’t just limit the ice time available for prospects that will play a big part in the rebuild, it almost always leads to albatross contracts, the type of contracts that limit a team’s ability to push forward.

Those are the type of contracts the Montreal Canadiens can no longer afford to offer if they hope to one day become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

All Montreal Canadiens Salary Cap Information Via CapFriendly

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The Habs need to adopt the mindset of the New England Patriots. One if the major reasons for their annual success was their decision to always trade players while still in their prime thus recouping greater returns. It would also negate buyouts. Price is a good example as he should have been traded by Bergy. Allowing emotions to enter decisions is a recipe for disaster.


Correction: Gallagher’s contract IS an anchor NOW. I loved what he did for the Habs BUT I also wish he would retire. The injuries he has accrued overtime means that the situation is only going to get worse as he ages.

John Smith

To quote the great hick hop country artist Cowboy Troy, “There’s some chicken left in that bone.”

I’m not ready to write Gallagher off just yet. He’s not a quitter. The man still has a lot of fire in his belly. He’s always been written off and proven himself over and over again. Gallagher’s had a chance to allow himself to fully heal and if the new training team exercises proper load management, we might see a very serviceable player in Brendan Gallagher. I’m not saying that you’re wrong but I’m willing to let things play out this year before we write him off.


I love your positivity. It looks to me he almost done. His body is breaking down and the game is too fast for him. That a contract will hurt this team for the next. 4 years. One of many. bad contacts s given by M.B.


I actually think Gally’s contract wasn’t THAT bad, certainly not close to to the worst ones ever for the Habs. His issue has been injuries, some freak ones (ask Shea Weber). IF he can stay healthy for a season (say, play 70+ games), I suspect you would see 2nd line worthy numbers…like 50-something pts.

But its a BIG if…


We have completely different opinions about this. Gally was under paid and MB reward his devotion to the CH. I get it. But that is NOT the way to build a championship team. Unfortunately you have to be a bit ruthless. Not defecate on players but accept time is undefeated. MB was between a rock and a hard place with both Gallagher and price and he chose to kick the problem down the road….welll this is what down the road looks like.


I would have agreed with you up to the point that he returned last season. Him being healthy last year was the real him and had flashes of that same game breaking talent so I will have to see this season.


Excellent article, right on point. Making bad decisions with UFAs is the best way to kill your team’s chances for the future. However, I would add that the magic number of 30 can often be, well, just a number. There are and have been plenty of NHL players over the years who do very well at/past 30…some even put up their best career numbers after 30. Toffoli…his best season was his last – at 31 yrs old. If we had kept him (like I thought we should have), he would currently be that elusive top line RW we are all still looking for. And that contract was delicious – perfect.

The difference here is that Alzner NEVER had anything that would have justified that contract. So it was a very bad one.

Top 3 worst Habs UFA signings:

  1. Alzner
  2. Gomez
  3. G. Larocque

Gomez was not UFA




Bergevin should have been fired for the way he ruined the Montreal defense after the 2016-17 season. Firstly playing hardball for no apparent reason with Markov, protecting the mediocre Jordie Benn over Alexei Emelin, trading Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn. But replacing them with Karl Alzner, a washed up Mark Streit, Joe Morrow, Mike Reilly, Victor Mete, Jakub Jerabek, Rinat Valiev , my favouritemove signing David Schlemko (who has to be amongst the worst players ever to put on a Canadiens sweater)
The Habs had 103 points in 2016-17 and after those illustrious moves fell to 71 points the next year! Thanks Mark.