The Montreal Canadiens have committed to making their AHL team better this season, and have signed three players who could easily contribute to that. Xavier Ouellet, Kenny Agostino and Michael Chaput have all agreed to join the Montreal organization on two-way contracts, with the former two signing for one season and the latter signing for two. All three will carry a $700K cap hit in the NHL. The team also signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to his three-year entry-level contract.
Ouellet was in the news recently as the 24-year-old was bought out by the Detroit Red Wings earlier this week. The blueliner was on the roster all season long for Detroit, but only saw action in 45 games and averaged just 13:51 of ATOI. With a large group of unmovable contracts on defense and some younger options to choose from, Ouellet became expendable and since he was just 24 years of age, a buyout would only pay him one-third of his salary. With Montreal on a two-way deal, he can provide both depth for the Canadiens, but also have a big role with the AHL Laval Rockets if he can’t make the team.
For the third straight year, Agostino has signed a one-year deal with a new team only to look for a new job the following year. The 26-year-old forward has had trouble breaking into an NHL lineup after failed tenures in Calgary, St. Louis and now Boston. Agostino has only appeared in 22 NHL games since the 2013-14 season. However, he has been a solid AHL player over the past few years, which is likely what Montreal wants from him. He has scored 63 goals in the past three years in the AHL.
Chaput was just recently dealt from the Vancouver Canucks to the Chicago Blackhawks for Tanner Kero, but Chaput who was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, was not given a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. With a two-year deal, the Canadiens plan to use the forward for depth purposes, but also to augment their AHL team as Chaput picked up 17 goals and 25 assists for the Utica Comets last year. However, he managed just nine games for Vancouver, although he did play in 68 game for the Canucks in 2016-17.
As for Kotkaniemi, the third-overall pick in the 2018 draft signed his three-year entry-level deal with the Canadiens. The center will earn $832K with a $92K signing bonus, making his deal worth a total of $925K, according to Dan Braverman of NHL.com. The team selected Kotkaniemi over several other more highly regarded prospects including Filip Zadina and Brady Tkachuk, but the team was more interested in adding centremen to their franchise. He tallied 10 goals and 29 points in Finland’s top SM-Liiga league.