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Canadiens Analysis

Canadiens Salary Cap Outlook Gives Team Many Exciting Options



Montreal Canadiens Hughes

Now that the dust has settled on the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline we have a better idea of what Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes will be working with in terms of financial flexibility this summer.

As previously discussed, the team will have a healthy amount of cap space, which should lead to more activity as the 2024 NHL Entry Draft approaches.

Montreal Canadiens Salary Cap Details.

The NHL’s salary cap will rise to $87.7 million in 2024-25, a $4.2 million increase from year to year.

For now, we’ll mostly use players who are currently signed to NHL contracts in our salary cap outlook, though we did sign Lane Hutson to avoid a flood of complaints.

In this particular scenario, the Canadiens have re-signed Arber Xhekaj to a two-year contract that carries a $1.5 million cap hit, slightly more than Jordan Harris received last season.

Other than Xhekaj, there aren’t any high-profile restricted free agents in play. Both Justin Barron and Jesse Ylonen will require contract extensions, but they’re not expected to break the bank due to their lack of success this season. I did not include either player in our NHL projection, though there’s certainly a chance they start the season in the Habs rather than the Laval Rocket.

You’ll notice the lines are similar to what we’ve seen down the stretch in the 2023-24 season. The actual placement of the players in the lineup is fairly irrelevant at this point. The goal of this article is to list key players who should be included in the 2024-25 salary cap projection.

To mix things up a little, we also added Owen Beck to the NHL roster, though it’s far from a guarantee. On that note, Beck is playing the best hockey of his career with the Saginaw Spirit, and he possesses the exact type of skill set you’d expect to see from a player knocking on the NHL’s door.

Here’s what we’re working with as of mid-March.

montreal canadiens lineup capfriendly

Montreal Canadiens with hutson salary cap

The 23-player roster, which includes placing Carey Price’s $10.5 million contract on the long-term injured reserve, gives the Montreal Canadiens a little over $17.4 million in available salary cap space next season.

However, it does not include any overages, nor does it include the currently unknown performance bonuses that could be owed to Hutson, who is expected to make the jump to professional hockey once his season with the Boston University Terriers is over.

It also doesn’t account for the various roster changes that could take place via a trade. The Habs are still on the hook for 50 percent of Jake Allen and Jeff Petry’s cap hits, but Joel Edmundson’s salary retention spot will no longer be used this summer, which could lead to yet another trade in which the Habs exchange cap space for draft capital.

In addition, we also have to allow for some leeway when it comes to certain prospects. Defencemen David Reinbacher and Adam Engstrom could be in play, though, as it stands, they’ll probably need time in the AHL to acclimatize to the lack of time and space in North American hockey.

Karl Alzner’s buyout will no longer be on the books, though the process that led him to become a buyout candidate should serve as an important reminder to the Montreal Canadiens that handing out rich contracts to older players rarely works out in the NHL.

Brass Tacks

On top of having significant financial maneuverability, the Habs also have a surplus of draft capital that they can use to immediately improve their lineup, as they did when they traded for Kirby Dach or Alex Newhook.

The Habs are slated to make 12 picks at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, five of which occur in the first three rounds.

To make things even more interesting, the Canadiens currently own 15 picks in the first three rounds of the upcoming drafts, with five picks scheduled for the first round.

montreal canadiens draft picks

There will be changes.

The lineup we’re presenting today will not be the same lineup that Hughes and Co. will submit to start the 2024-25 season.

But if there’s one certain thing, it’s that the options are lining up nicely for the Habs next season. Not only will they have ample cap space, but they also have the type of draft capital that gives them a bevy of options moving forward, both at the draft itself and in trade negotiations with teams looking to move talented players.

The options become particularly interesting when we consider the team has been playing some of its best hockey down the stretch of the 2023-24 season.

All things considered, 2024-25 is setting up to be the season in which the Canadiens have the proper lineup, assets, and salary cap space to take the first big step forward since general manager Kent Hughes was handed the reins.

If you’re interested in creating your own Montreal Canadiens Armchair GM lineup, make sure to visit CapFriendly. You can then take a screenshot and post your lineup in the comments below. All salary cap information in this article is via CapFriendly.