The Canadiens bounced back from a bad 2016 regular season and made the playoffs. Their failure to address their lack of offense and provide support to goalie Carey Price thwarted any chance of a deep postseason run.
GM Marc Bergevin has some difficult challenges, getting UFA’s Alex Radulov and Andrei Markov re-signed, extending Price (who is an unrestricted free agent next summer) and RFA Alex Galchenyuk. Those hurdles could cause the Habs to get inventive in trying to clear cap space and that may include getting Vegas to take one of their big salaried veterans.
Bergevin will not re-sign Radulov until after the June 21 draft, so he does not have to protect him. Team captain Max Pacioretty, Paul Byron (who surprisingly scored 22 goals), Andrew Shaw, Brendan Gallagher, Galchenyuk and Phillip Danault are locks to be part of the Canadiens protected seven forwards.
Veteran Tomas Plekanec is coming off his worst offensive season since his rookie year and is entering the final year of his contract. It is likely that Bergevin will opt to protect 22-year-old winger Charles Hudon (who might be ready to make the jump to the NHL after consecutive 20+ goal seasons in the AHL) instead of the 34-year-old center making $6 Million.
The Habs are most vulnerable to losing a defenseman to Vegas. Jeff Petry has a no-movement clause from his contract extension and Shea Weber will obviously be protected, but Bergevin faces a choice of who his third blueliner will be.
With defense being such a valuable commodity this summer, it is possible that Bergevin will choose to move Emelin or Beaulieu before June 21, since Montreal has first rounders Noah Juulsen and Mikhail Sergachev in the pipeline and potentially ready to play in the NHL next season.
Carey Price….need I say more.
Projected protected players and their cap hits
Max Pacioretty – $4,500,000 through 2019
Andrew Shaw – $3,900,000 through 2022
Brendan Gallagher – $3,750,000 through 2021
Paul Byron – $1,166,667 through 2019
Phillip Danault – $912,500 through 2018
Alex Galchenyuk – $2,800,000 RFA
Charles Hudon – $625,000 RFA
Shea Weber – $7,857,143 through 2026
Jeff Petry (NMC) – $5,500,000 through 2021
Alexei Emelin – $4,100,000 through 2018
Carey Price (NMC) – $6,500,000 through 2018
Likely Expansion loss for Montreal
Beaulieu, Daniel Carr and Benn.
If Montreal were to make a trade with Vegas to select/not select a player, who would it be and why?
The Habs would have to be willing to move a young prospect or their 2017 first round pick to get the Golden Knights to take on Plekanec’s contract. This would be a win-win for both teams, since Vegas has to reach the cap floor and the commitment would only be for one year.
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