The Montreal Canadiens are starting to make decisions on their group of restricted free agents. Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports is reporting that the team will not issue qualifying offers to both Hunter Shinkaruk and Daniel Audette, making both of them unrestricted free agents this summer. Meanwhile the team has offered Charles Hudon a qualifying offer, according to several reports including Chantal Machabee of RDS. Hudon is said to have turned down the offer, meaning he can either file for salary arbitration or continue to negotiate a new contract with the Canadiens.
Shinkaruk, 24, ended up in the Montreal organization after a trade last summer with the Calgary Flames. It was the second time in his young career he’d been flipped, thanks to a relatively uninspiring performance so far at the professional level. Originally selected by the Vancouver Canucks 24th overall in 2013, Shinkaruk has played just 15 games at the NHL level and has just four points to show for it. Even with the Laval Rocket in the AHL last season he was disappointing, recording ten points in 54 games. He’ll likely get a chance for a fresh start somewhere else, hopefully resulting in his full offensive potential coming out.
Audette, 23, is a different story entirely. Selected in the fifth round five years ago, the undersized forward has actually been relatively effective at the AHL level. He finished third on the Rocket in scoring last season with 39 points, but apparently hasn’t done enough to warrant an NHL contract. The Canadiens already have 40 on the books for next season, meaning they have to be very careful with who they issue qualifying offers to this summer. It will be interesting to see if Montreal circles back and tries to get Audette to stay on an AHL deal.
Meanwhile, Hudon has been a frustratingly inconsistent player at the NHL level. The 24-year old forward was dynamite at the AHL level for several years, and even recorded 30 points in his first full season in Montreal. That was followed by an extremely disappointing five points in 2018-19, and though that came in just 32 games played it is not clear if he can be a long-term contributor.