For months, it has been known that the Montreal Canadiens have been seeking to shed the contract of forward Mike Hoffman, a deal that has not worked out for either side. This morning, due to their involvement in the trade that sent Erik Karlsson to the Pittsburgh Penguins, they were able to move on from Hoffman, sending him to the San Jose Sharks, as well as moving forward Rem Pitlick to the Penguins.
The Canadiens were able to re-acquire defenseman Jeff Petry, and also goaltender Casey DeSmith as significant salary added to the club. All-in-all, even after moving out Hoffman and Pitlick, the Canadiens added just under $900k in total salary.
After the trade, CapFriendly brought up an interesting note, indicating that Montreal will likely take their cap space in one of two directions, largely focused on the $10.5MM in LTIR relief from goaltender Carey Price’s contract (Tweet Link). As of right now, the Canadiens would have roughly $5.3MM in cap space after putting Price’s contract on LTIR, meaning they could either shed about $5.2MM, negating the need to put Price’s contract on LTIR, or add another $5.2MM, maximizing the total salary relief they could get.
Given their likely competitive outlook for the 2023-24 season, it may be wise for Montreal to attempt to shed more salary and keep Price’s contract off of LTIR, allowing them to weaponize their cap space during the 2024 NHL trade deadline. Even after trading Hoffman and Pitlick, the Canadiens should have room on their current roster to find minutes for the likes of Sean Farrell, Lias Andersson, and Mitchell Stephens, among others.
Not only do they have young forwards ready to play, but the team also has a significant amount of young defensemen ready to play as well. To shed a significant amount of salary, as well as opening up time for some of their younger talent to step up, it may be wise for the team to move on from defenseman David Savard and forward Christian Dvorak. With rumors circulating that the trade market for defensemen will now be opening up thanks to the move of Karlsson, there may be buyers willing to give Savard a shot in their top four. In Dvorak’s case, rumors shortly before the start of free agency indicated that Montreal would like to move on from the forward if possible.
If the Canadiens move these two veterans and do not take on any significant salary in return, it would be more than enough space to keep Price’s contract off of LTIR. Nevertheless, it will be interesting what direction General Manager Kent Hughes takes in regard to this situation, but there will likely be more clarity on the subject in the approach to training camp starting in September.