Their surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final is not stopping the Montreal Canadiens from continuing to look toward the future. Even with the series set to begin tomorrow, the front office is hard at work today. Montreal has come to terms on a new contract for forward Brandon Baddock, the team announced. The 26-year-old forward had been slated for Group 6 unrestricted free agency again this off-season, which is how the Canadiens were able to sign him last year in the first place, but will instead stay put with this extension.
While Baddock did not actually suit up for Montreal this season and has yet to play in the NHL at all in his five-year pro career, his new deal does represent a raise. This is partially due to the increase in the league’s minimum salary, as Baddock will go from $700K this year to $750K in 2021-22. However, the Habs also increased his AHL salary from $110K to $150K and guaranteed him $175K even if he again is held out of NHL action.
Why the promotion for a 26-year-old with no NHL experience and little AHL production? Despite his seemingly unimpressive resume, Baddock was actually a name that drew a fair amount of interest as a free agent last off-season after walking away from the New Jersey Devils – and none of it has to do with his offensive ability. The 6’3″, 221-lb. forward plays a heavy checking game, is a fearless defensive player, and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Baddock led the AHL in penalty minutes in 2018-19, finished fifth in 2019-20, and has at least 100 PIM in each of his three full AHL seasons. While the NHL has largely moved away from these enforcer types, Baddock spent time on Montreal’s taxi squad this season and they were ready to let him loose on the league. Other teams had the same idea in mind last off-season as well. Baddock will never be more than a fourth liner in the NHL at best, but there is value in having a menacing physical presence on call to plug into the lineup. If Montreal wins the Stanley Cup, they will be public enemy No. 1 next season and now will come prepared if the opposition want to try to push them around.