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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Salary Cap Status Provides Plethora Of Trade Options



Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes

The Montreal Canadiens may not have an abundance of assets up for trade this year, but they’ll have plenty of cap space to get creative.

Unlike last season, general manager Kent Hughes came into this season without having to put Carey Price on LTIR during the offseason.

Thanks to Christian Dvorak’s lengthy absence from a knee injury it was the Canadiens’ centre that started the year on LTIR, giving the Canadiens the luxury of placing Price on IR to start the season.

In doing so, the Montreal Canadiens now had the option to surpass the salary cap by more than 10.5M; which is what allowed them to acquire Tanner Pearson and a 3rd-round pick from the Vancouver Canucks this fall.

Despite taking on Pearson’s $3.25M cap hit, the team currently has $3.4M in LTIR space, due to the five regulars currently on Injured Reserve and the ensuing call-ups brought up to replace them.

However, if the Canadiens really needed the space, they could also move Kirby Dach’s $3.3M cap hit and Chris Wideman’s $762,500 off IR and toward LTIR, liberating an additional $4M in cap space.

When the lineup is relatively healthy, the team would have upwards of $10M to play with.

Why is that important?

With sports betting sites predicting another slide for the Canadiens in the second half of the season, it opens up interesting trade possibilities leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline.

Here’s how:

Flexibility In Roster Combination

Unlike last season, the Montreal Canadiens aren’t right up against the cap and have more flexibility when it comes to make trades and taking on salary back in an eventual trade.

It allows them to better accommodate contending teams that are right up against the salary cap that require a “salary in, salary out” type of deal in order to improve their team.

With nearly $10M in potential cap space and the ability to add up to four more contracts, with only 46 of 50 contracts slots taken up, it allows the Canadiens to be better salary cap brokers than they ever were.

That means the Canadiens can take on salary or contracts to make a deal happen without having to worry about many limitations, giving them the option to broker bigger trades if need be.

Last season, they were right up to the salary cap, meaning that they had to make much smaller trades, like the Dadonov trade to Dallas.


Unloading Term For Cap Hit

The Canadiens don’t have any major pending free agents outside of Sean Monahan at the moment, but are littered with contracts with term on their deals.

Christian Dvorak ($4.45M), Joel Armia ($3.4M), and Jake Allen ($3.85M) all have an extra year remaining on their contracts and come with a pretty notable cap hit.

However, due to the Canadiens roster flexibility and cap space, they could have a better time dealing on the market by taking on larger, expiring deals as an incentive to take on one of the players listed above.

The rival club would save precious cap space in the short term, while the Canadiens gain more roster and cap flexibility as soon as this summer to spend elsewhere to improve the club.


Flexibility Brings Options

Despite not having a prime rental to trade outside of Sean Monahan, the Canadiens’ fiscal flexibility doesn’t guarantee that they’ll make many moves, but, for the first time in years, it won’t stop them either.

Last season, the Canadiens were able to utilize the few millions in LTIR space they had to broker one trade between the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins. They still have one retention slot to be able to to the same kind of moves this year.

However, it’s quite possible the club holds onto the slot up until the 2024 NHL Draft as they did last year.

Nonetheless, they will have more cap flexibility than more than 75% of the league moving forth, and their LTIR space may help them reach deals earlier, as other clubs can only hope to accrue cap space over time.

With certain teams faltering as of late and pressured to make the playoffs, that space may come in handy sooner than expected.