Connect with us

Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Contract Crunch Could Force Further Trades

Published

on

Montreal Canadiens GM Kent Hughes

The Montreal Canadiens were looking to be active on the trade front this summer, and they now have even more reason to do so.

To defy NHL betting odds and challenge for the playoffs next season, GM Kent Hughes aims to be aggressive in adding key pieces to his group.

The big issue at the moment is that, after signing free-agent goaltender Connor Hughes, the Habs already have 41 contracts on the books for next season, meaning they can only add nine more moving forward.

Since taking over the reins of the Montreal Canadiens, the Kent Hughes-Jeff Gorton duo has always given themselves a little buffer when it comes to their contract situation. Instead of entering seasons with 49 or 50 contracts, they preferred to give themselves some roster flexibility by only beginning the season with 45 or 46 contracts in total.

However, at this rate, for Montreal to maintain some semblance of roster flexibility going into the draft and free agency, they’ll need to make more than just one trade this summer.

Restricted Free-Agent Decisions

The Montreal Canadiens have six restricted free agents (RFA) to qualify prior to the June 30th limit, with Arber Xhekaj, Justin Barron, Jesse Ylönen, Lias Andersson, Filip Cederqvist, and Mattias Norlinder up for new deals this summer.

Even in the most conservative of situations, it is a foregone conclusion that Barron and Xhekaj will be retained, while Ylönen and Andersson have a chance to be brought back into the fold.

In Ylönen’s case, it may just be for the purposes of including him in an eventual trade, while Andersson could be kept as a good veteran presence with the Laval Rocket.

And, although he isn’t an RFA this summer, it’s worth noting that the Montreal Canadiens are also expected to sign prospect Oliver Kapanen within the next coming weeks. Even if he is eventually loaned back to Sweden in the fall after training camp, his contract would also count against the contract limit; food for thought.

That would put the Canadiens at 43-45 contracts, but that’s not where the story ends.

Veteran Signings For Laval

The Laval Rocket narrowly missed the playoffs this season and, although they’re expected to lose key veterans to Europe or other NHL clubs, the Canadiens are keen to see their prospects get some playoff time in the AHL next season.

As much as the impulse would be to fill the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate with only prospects, it’s not realistic for that to happen.

Even if the Canadiens were to qualify and bring back Lias Andersson, they’d still need an extra veteran centerman, as well as two veteran defencemen to properly insulate what is expected to be a very young defensive corps.

Upon meeting the media after his contract extension, head coach Jean-Francois Houle quickly pointed to the need to add good, responsible veterans to the mix.

In addition to the aforementioned RFA signings, adding veterans could bring the Canadiens in the 45-48 contract range; which is manageable, but leaves very little margin for maneuverability when it comes to trade discussions.

Quantity for Quality Deal?

Seeing how the Montreal Canadiens have so many players signed for next season, as well as some considerable depth in their prospect pool at the moment, now may be the time to build a package to bring in more quality.

The organization has already been linked to Martin Necas in the last few weeks, a player that will likely require a significant package to pry from the Carolina Hurricanes.

Rather than including valuable draft picks, some roster/depth players could be sacrificed as sweeteners to push some difficult deals over the finish line.

Just looking at the Montreal Canadiens’ left-defensive depth, which includes Mike Matheson, Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris, Jayden Struble, Lane Hutson and Adam Engstrom, there could easily be a few candidates for such a move.

There’s also the wealth of small and skilled forwards within the Canadiens’ system, like Sean Farrell, Filip Mesar and Riley Kidney that could be used in an effort to further diversify the Canadiens’ organizational depth chart.

Needless to say, when you have one of the league’s deepest prospect pools, turning quantity into quality is a surefire way to create roster flexibility.

And with 24 picks coming in the next two drafts, it’s almost a necessity at this point.

Sell High On Veterans

But there is another way.

The Montreal Canadiens have some veterans who could also be of interest to rival teams like Joel Armia, David Savard and Christian Dvorak.

Armia and Savard hold the most value among the three, with Savard being a major point of interest for teams during the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline earlier this year.

Similarly to how the Canadiens were able to unload Joel Edmundson last summer to make way for youngsters like Harris and Struble, so too could Savard and Armia be sacrificed for the same process.

Acquiring more picks for future trades or unsigned prospects that needn’t be qualified just yet, they’d be able to make room for prospects like Joshua Roy, Logan Mailloux or David Reinbacher, all while freeing up a contract slot and getting some valuable assets in the process.

 

*For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel

4 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
mikeysl

Marco you have me confused now… as per Laval.
Cedqvist is signed in europe and Norlinder will follow. He wont be qualified on an NHL contract (IMO)
Next- the AHL vets wont need NHL contracts unless you want to call them up in case of injury. On D I dont think there is any way guys llike Galipeau/keeper/bisson get called up ahead of Mailloux/ReinBach-ORR/Hutson or even Trudeau…

Riley Kidney is not a “big” dude but he is not a 5-9 messar or a 5-10 farell. He needs meat on dem bones but he is 6ft

This is not as big an issue as the lone remaining retention slot AND whether Habs would move Price to a LTIR team like Vegas…considering his lineage – AND he has to agree…

Tyrone

Could we not sign some vets to AHL only contracts that wouldn’t count towards the limit of 50?

Peter

They just did today signing Israel Mianscum to an AHL contract, he played last year for Sherbrooke Phoenix and had 35 goals and more importantly is 6’2″ & 202 .lbs.

Last edited 13 days ago by Peter
mikeysl

That is potentially REALLY good news. He was undrafted for a few “reasons” and injured.
He is NOT an AHL vet but there a few teams sniffing around. This has the potential to be a really good “add”…for free. Only down point is it adds another rookie to the mix at forward.