The Montreal Canadiens have made a mark on free agency before it even gets started. Joel Armia has agreed to terms with the club on a new four-year contract extension that will keep him away from the open market. The deal carries an average annual value of $3.4MM and keeps Armia under contract through 2024-25. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reports that the deal does not include any signing bonuses or trade protection.
Armia, 28, may not create a lot of offense, but he’s still a valuable contributor to the Canadiens that can be used in a variety of ways. One of the best penalty killers in the league, he scored two short-handed goals in Montreal’s 21-game playoff run while lining up against some impressive competition. His 6’4″ frame allows him to get a stick in passing lanes or easily strip players of the puck, all helping Montreal’s identity of a tight defensive group with a penchant for the counter-attack.
The Canadiens, who also have Corey Perry, Phillip Danault, Eric Staal and Tomas Tatar scheduled for unrestricted free agency, were going to need to add some forwards at some point this summer, so why not bring back a player you know and like. The risk involved in a four-year deal is mitigated somewhat by the fact that Armia is still just 28, though he did get a pretty substantial bump in pay. If his defensive ability declines at all, it’s hard to see how Montreal would get their value back from a player that has only hit 30 points once in his career.
Still, the team has cap space to burn, given Shea Weber’s likely placement on long-term injured reserve for at least this season. Even with Armia back in the fold, Montreal has close to $20MM in room to add in free agency and just a handful of spots left to fill on the roster.