After some bad news this morning, the Montreal Canadiens are having a better afternoon. The team has announced a two-year contract for promising young forward Jacob de La Rose, which will carry an average annual value of $900K. de La Rose had arbitration rights, but came to an agreement to avoid the process altogether before the deadline for filing came down today.
The 23-year old de La Rose scored just 12 points in 55 games for the Canadiens this season, but finished his year with a gold medal at the World Championships as a checking center for Sweden. That is likely his future role in the NHL with Montreal as he doesn’t possess high-end offensive ability, but a reliable defensive presence is still a valuable asset for the team. As the Canadiens hope that Jonathan Drouin takes to the position this year, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi turns into a high-end option, de La Rose will give the team depth down the middle for years to come. For the small price of $900K, they now have a full-time player locked up for the next two seasons.
It’s not clear what Montreal will do with the rest of their cap space, as they now have just over $12MM with only Phillip Danault and Joel Armia to re-sign as restricted free agents. The unrestricted free agent market is picked fairly clean, meaning if they intend on improving the roster before the season begins it will likely have to be through trade.