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Habs Wrap: Slafkovsky’s Extension, Demidov, Defenceman Trade

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Montreal Canadiens Juraj Slafkovsky offseason training

MONTREAL — There’s always Montreal Canadiens content to absorb, but there are only so many hours in a day. On Sundays, we recap the most exciting and relevant NHL news stories that you may have missed throughout the week so that you can stay in the Canadiens loop.

Monday

The Montreal Canadiens look to have made a franchise-altering move at the 2024 NHL Draft in selecting Ivan Demidov at 5th overall. If you ask the Canadiens, they think they walked out of this year’s draft like bandits.[Canadiens Selection Of Demidov Could Be Franchise-Defining]

The Habs relieved some of the logjam on defence by trading third-pairing defenceman Johnathan Kovacevic to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a fourth-round pick. The return is unspectacular, but the important part of the deal is the ice time liberated for young players who are expected to play a big part in the team’s long-term rebuild plans. [Canadiens Trade Defenceman Ahead Of Free Agency]

ICYMI: The Canadiens had a great 2024 NHL Entry Draft. You can take a look at all our coverage in the most recent Habs Wrap. [Canadiens 2024 Draft: Demidov, Hage, Celine Dion & The Future]

As expected, the Habs qualified Arber Xhekaj and Justin Barron. They did not tender offers to Jesse Ylonen and Mattias Norlinder. Jeff Gorton had spilled the beans about the team’s intentions prior to the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. [Canadiens Draft Intentions, RFA Signings, Trade Talk, and UFAs]

Tuesday

They had ample salary cap space, but heading into free agency it was clear the Habs would focus on signing two cornerstone players: Kaiden Guhle and Juraj Slafkovsky. [Montreal Canadiens UFA Primer— Salary Cap and Trade Targets]

The Montreal Canadiens wasted no time signing Slafkovsky, who was eligible for an eight-year contract extension the moment free agency opened. Slafkovsky’s new contract will carry a $7.6 million annual average value (AAV), which means the team is banking on the youngest player in the lineup enjoying a steady, continued development path.[Instant Analysis: Canadiens Bank On Growth In Slafkovsky Deal]

The only free agent signed by the Habs was 27-year-old forward Alex Barré-Boulet, a player that was also coveted by the last management group. He’ll have an opportunity to earn a job at camp, but there’s a decent chance he’ll spend part of the season with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket.  [Canadiens AHL Affiliate Adds Multiple Important Reinforcements]

General manager Kent Hughes met with the media to discuss a bevy of topics, including why he wanted a long-term deal with Slafkovsky, why he wanted to avoid long-term deals with free agents, Ivan Demidvo’s future, and more. [Canadiens GM Hughes Discusses Slafkovsky, UFAs, & Demidov]

Development camp got underway on Tuesday, with 30 players attending the festivities in Brossard, including J20 standout Alexander Zetterberg. 2024 first-round pick Michael Hage was there, but fifth overall pick Ivan Demidov did not attend, as he has not yet secured a travel visa. [List Of Players Attending Montreal Canadiens Development Camp]

Wednesday

The Montreal Canadiens did not want to offer term to any of the available free agents in 2024, but they can offer top-six minutes for a player who is looking to improve his overall value in the NHL. We suggested a few names that could fit the bill, but it’s worth noting that former Hab Tomas Tatar signed a one-year contract for just $1.8 million per season with the New Jersey Devils. [Canadiens Free Agency: Searching For The Next Sean Monahan]

The Habs revealed their 2024-25 schedule, which includes yet another season-opening game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. This time around, the Canadiens won’t be starting their season on the road, as they have in most recent NHL campaigns. [Montreal Canadiens 2024-25 Schedule And Notable Games]

The Canadiens have announced some changes to their coaching crew, as Alex Burrows will no longer participate as an active coach behind the bench during every game. Burrows will now transition into being a player development consultant, a job he’ll share with former NHLer Lauri Korpikoski. The bulk of Korpikoski’s job will centre around prospects who are developing in Europe, such as Oliver Kapanen.

The Habs struggle in transition, that much we know. Fortunately, Michael Hage, the 21st overall pick at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, happens to be a magician when it comes to neutral zone play. They’re different players, but you’d be hard-pressed to suggest he does not look like current Canadiens player Kirby Dach at times.

Thursday

The Montreal Canadiens released an updated development camp roster which includes the latest measurements for various Habs prospects. [Habs Development Camp Roster Updated Heights And Weights]

Some of the players at the development camp spoke to the media on Tuesday, with first-round pick Michael Hage explaining why he’s honoured to be part of the organization.

Now that the Habs have signed Juraj Slafkovsky to an 8-year extension, the attention turns to Kaiden Guhle. Guhle is asked to do a lot for the Canadiens, which will make negotiations a little more complicated. Here are some comparable contracts that could serve as the framework for a potential long-term deal. [Canadiens Contracts: Finding Comparables For Guhle’s Extension]

An important detail regarding the aforementioned Slafkovsky extension: the 20-year-old forward will have a modified no-trade clause in place from the 2029-30 season and onward. Slafkovsky will submit a 10-team ‘no trade’ list once the M-NTC kicks in. [Instant Analysis: Canadiens Bank On Growth In Slafkovsky Deal]

 

Friday

After an excellent freshman season that saw lead the entire NCAA in wins (38), Jacob Fowler is expected to return to the Boston College Eagles for his sophomore campaign, but that didn’t stop him from paying homage to the last Montreal Canadiens goaltender to win a Stanley Cup, Patrick Roy.


Prospect analyst Hadi Kalakeche put together a great series of tweet analyzing freshly drafted prospect Logan Sawyer’s skill set. Sawyer was picked by the Canadiens in the third round of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, 78th overall. He’s committed to player for Providence (NCAA) in 2025-26, but we’re yet to receiving confirmation regarding where he’ll play next season. You can click on the tweet embedded below to view the full string, or you can click here.


The 2024-25 season will provide Brendan Gallagher with a chance to pass several notable franchise players in both games played and goals scored. As a reminder, the rumours of Gallagher’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. [Veteran Brendan Gallagher’s Value To The Montreal Canadiens]


Speaking of Gallagher, he was at the Canadiens development camp in Brossard, providing a veteran presence for the many young prospects in attendance.

Saturday

The Montreal Canadiens made news when traded to move up five spots a few hours before the 2024 NHL draft, securing the 21st overall pick. After much debate about the goal of the trade, the Habs used the pick to select forward Michael Hage, a player Kent Hughes said was their target all along. Take a look at why the Habs brass believe they’ve added a key player to the team’s rebuild. [Canadiens Top Prospects: Michael Hage’s Road To The NHL]

The prospects at development camp took part in a scrimmage in Brossard on Friday morning. We don’t want to oversell any prospects based on a single scrimmage, as it doesn’t represent a true indication of how they’ll perform during a game, but it’s fair to say certain players stood out, including Michael Hage, Tyler Thorpe, Josh Nadeau, and Florian Xhekaj. Nadeau is a camp invite, though given that he scored 47 points in 35 NCAA games last year, he’s more than just a warm body. There’s a legitimate chance the Canadiens offer him a contract if he continues to impress. [Canadiens Prospect Highlights: Hage, Xhekaj, & Thorpe Standout]

The fifth overall pick at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft, Ivan Demidov, was not present at development camp. According to Demidov, he does not yet have a Canadian visa. But that won’t stop us from taking a look at some of his excellent highlight-reel plays.

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Train

It’s too bad Hughes didn’t select Michkov when he had a chance. Now the guy will be lighting it up for Philly this coming season.