Jordie Benn set career highs in nearly every category this season, but it won’t be enough to earn him another contract with the Montreal Canadiens. The veteran defenseman will test unrestricted free agency, Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin told reporters including Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports. Bergevin also confirmed to Eric Engels of Sportsnet that Michael McCarron was qualified, and that he hasn’t made a final decision on whether he’ll use a buyout.
Benn, 31, played in 81 games for the first time in his career and recorded five goals and 22 points for the Canadiens. The versatile defender led the team in blocked shots and logged the most short-handed time—Shea Weber averaged just two seconds more per game on the penalty kill, but suited up just 58 times. In 473 career games, Benn now has 110 points could actually be considered one of the more attractive options on the open market this season. Since Erik Karlsson, Alexander Edler and others have re-signed, the blue line free agent depth is looking extremely thin. Benn’s 22 points puts him behind only Tyler Myers, Jake Gardiner, Niklas Kronwall and Ron Hainsey among UFA defensemen.
The left-handed defenseman is coming off a three-year deal signed in 2016 that paid him just $1.1MM per season, something he will likely be able to significantly eclipse on the open market this summer. Probably his best chance for a real career-defining contract, it will be interesting to see who goes after Benn and whether or not the Dallas Stars show any desire to reunite him with his brother Jamie Benn.