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Canadiens Analysis

3 Potential Buyout Targets For The Montreal Canadiens In 2024

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Montreal Canadiens forward Josh Anderson

The endless 2024 Stanley Cup final seems to finally be coming to an end, which means teams will have to be prepared for the buyout period that begins 48 hours after the most iconic trophy in North American sports is handed out.

Technically, the buyout period begins on the later of June 15 or two days after the Stanley Cup final, but seeing as the Florida Panthers eliminated the New York Rangers from the Eastern Conference Final way back on June 1 and are yet to win four games against the Edmonton Oilers in the Cup final, the June 15 date was never in consideration.

But we’re not here to discuss why it has taken three weeks for a team to play six games. Rather, we’ll discuss potential Montreal Canadiens buyout targets.

Canadiens Buyout Targets

It’s always a little touchy discussing buyouts. The NHL is a business, and with it comes some difficult decisions, but we must acknowledge that potential buyouts can have a negative impact on a player’s mental health. Yes, they receive a decent sum of money when a buyout takes place, but hearing that your team would rather pay you to play for someone else is never easy.

On the other hand, in some cases, it could work to their advantage, as a fresh start with a reasonable contract can do wonders for a player.

A player like Josh Anderson certainly doesn’t bring value to the table when he struggles to reach 20 points with a contract that carries a $5.5 million annual average value. But at half that amount, the 30-year-old could find a role within another organization and perhaps re-invent himself during the second half of his career.

Josh Anderson Contract Details

Anderson’s contract pays him $5.5 million per season and is set to expire in 2027. It’s important to note that every buyout will last twice as long as the original contract, a situation that muddies the waters somewhat for the Canadiens. At the moment, the team has plenty of cap space and financial manoeuvrability, but that probably won’t be the case in six years, as they’re hoping to become a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup in that time frame.

If the Canadiens buyout Anderson’s contract, it will save them $5.166 million in total cap space over the course of six years.

Year 1: $5.27 million in SCS (salary cap savings).

Year 2: $3.27 million in SCS.

Year 3: $1.77 million in SCS.

Year 4: $1.77 million in SCS.

Year 5: $1.77 million in SCS.

Year 6: $1.77 million in SCS.

 

As you can see, the first three years bring significant savings to the Canadiens, but the final three years of the buyout will cost the team a little under $2 million in cap space per season.

The main reason you’d consider this buyout is that the salary cap is expected to continue to rise. We recently experienced one of the biggest increases in recent salary cap history when the NHL announced next year’s salary cap ceiling will be set at $88 million.

MUST READ: 2024-25 Montreal Canadiens Salary Cap Situation: A Summer Of Opportunity

The Canadiens have given Anderson several opportunities to find his rhythm in the last two seasons, and though we have to be careful not to demonize a player who lost his scoring touch, the harsh reality of professional sports is that negative value athletes will hold you back, especially in a league where success is so closely tied with the salary cap. Anderson has absorbed a lot of important minutes in the top six, minutes that would be better used if they were given to a younger player who is expected to play a long-term role in the rebuild.

The verdict: Josh Anderson is a legitimate buyout target for the Canadiens.

 

Brendan Gallagher Contract Details

The next player we’ll evaluate is Brendan Gallagher, though I would like to note that Gallagher still brings value to the team when he’s on the ice. That’s not to say his expensive contract is justified at this point in his career, but we also know that for the longest time, Gallagher was one of the most underpaid players in the league. As it stands, he’s one of the few members of the Habs that managed to produce positive possession numbers last season, and though his production dipped due to less time on ice and weaker line mates, when he’s on the ice the Canadiens enjoy an advantage in shooting, high-danger chances, and expected goals. We also have to keep in mind he mostly plays in the bottom six.

In other words, I personally would not consider a buyout in his case, though I am aware some fans have suggested it’s the only way forward.

Gallagher has two years left on a contract that pays him $6.5 million per season.

If the Canadiens decide to buyout his contract, it would save them $3.5 million over the course of four years.

Year 1: $4.75 million in SCS.

Year 2: $2.25 million in SCS.

Year 3: $1.75 million in SCS.

Year 4: $1.75 million in SCS.

The verdict: There’s more to consider here than just money in and money out. Seeing as Gallagher literally gave his blood, sweat, and tears to help the Canadiens in the past, this seems like a questionable option. We can’t use emotion to dictate our decisions, but it may not send the best message if the Canadiens buyout a player who gives a legitimate effort every night. Hard-work can be contagious, and in a rebuilding team, there’s always space for veterans who still know the value of a strong work ethic.

If the Habs need to make space for a bigger move, by all means, proceed with a buyout, but for now, I don’t see the long-term value in a potential Gallagher buyout, especially when we consider his 16 goals last year place him fifth on a team that desperately needs more goal scoring.

 

Christian Dvorak Contract Details

Joel Armia’s goal-scoring resurgence last season means he’s unlikely to be considered for a buyout, leaving us with just one prime target among all Montreal Canadiens players: Christian Dvorak.

To his credit, he did score two goals upon returning to the lineup after being out of action since December with an injury, but he quickly returned to his old ways and was kept off the scoresheet in the final four games of the season.

Dvorak only has one year remaining on his contract that counts for $5.75 million against the salary cap. A buyout would save the Canadiens a little more than $1.9 million over two seasons.

Year 1: $3.83 million in SCS (salary cap savings).

Year 2: $-1.91 million in SCS.

The verdict: Much like Gallagher, this is an option the Montreal Canadiens should consider if they’re desperate for cap space. Seeing as it will only provide the team with cap relief in 2024-25 and cost them cap space in 2025-26, there’s not much value to be had.