The Montreal Canadiens got off to a franchise-best 9-0-0 start in 2015-16 but were unable to sustain their success, eventually dropping all the way to 13th in the Eastern Conference.
With most of their team already under contract for next season, GM Marc Bergevin will have to be active in the trade market if he wants to bring in more than just one or two new faces. Here’s a closer look at the few remaining free agents they have to deal with.
Key Restricted Free Agents: Phillip Danault was the centerpiece of the pre-deadline trade that saw Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann go to Chicago. The former first round pick didn’t play a big role with the Canadiens after being acquired, averaging just 12:37 per game while picking up five points in 21 games. Danault is expected to play a bottom six role for the Canadiens next season and should receive a short-term contract.
Winger Daniel Carr was a pleasant surprise last year. The 24 year old rookie picked up six goals and three assists in 24 games with Montreal after starting the season at AHL St. John’s. He is due a two-way qualifying offer of $840,000 in the NHL and $70,000 in the AHL but the team may try to convince him to take a smaller NHL cap hit in exchange for more guaranteed money in the form of a higher AHL salary.
Key Unrestricted Free Agent: It was a down year for D Tom Gilbert who picked up just one goal and one assist in 45 games before a knee injury ended his season in February. He’s coming off a $2.8MM contract and will have to take a substantial pay cut to get a contract in free agency. He should still have some suitors for a third pairing role as mobility and shot blocking are still desired attributes on the open market.
Cap Situation: Montreal has just shy of $64MM committed to 20 players already for next season, according to Cap Friendly. After re-signing Danault and Carr, they should have enough money to sign one impact player on the free agent market.