The Marc Bergevin Era Inheritance – Part Two

The sun has risen on a new chapter of the Montreal Canadiens’ rich history, and a wind of change has brought hopes and excitement to a season which, let’s call it like it is, has been rather sombre. After the announcement of the firing of Marc Bergevin, Trevor Timmins and Paul Wilson, and the resignation of Scott Mellanby back in November, I wrote a piece about the legacy left by Bergevin and his management group. In it, we tackled the Canadiens’ record, its draft rankings, his most notable trades as well as his biggest mistakes, amongst other things.

To complete that side of Bergevin’s entire impact, I decided to take a different approach, showing a different side of it, something that will complement what we’ve touched on already. So in this one, we’ll be tackling what Bergevin and his group have left the Canadiens’ new management team to work with, good or bad. Between the two pieces, you will have one of the most detailed and complete picture of Bergevin’s nine plus years reign available out there on the internet. To make things easier, let’s break it into a few categories.

Cap situation

Jeff Petry

As it stands at the time of writing this, according to Capfriendly.com, the Canadiens sit at around $94 million of projected cap hit, with about $12.5 million of projected LTIR used. So cap space, as it stands today, is at a premium in Montreal. They also have a projected cap hit of $84 million for next season. After this season, they still have $833,333 of cap space reserved for the buyout of Karl Alzner for two more seasons, down from the $1.96 million they have this season.

Bergevin, much like Peter Chiarelli in Boston, then in Edmonton, didn’t leave much wiggle room for his successor. He likely had a plan, but that plan is gone with him. It will be to Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes to figure out.

Long term contracts

Bergevin has signed a few players he felt were his core to long term contracts. Of course, if those players don’t figure in the new management’s long term plans, those can become problematic. For the sake of argument, let’s set 2024-25 as end date as an arbitrary time to be considered “long term”. Here they are, in order of cap hit.

  • Carey Price: $10.5M until 2025-26
  • Nick Suzuki: $7.88M until 2029-30
  • Shea Weber: $7.86M until 2025-26
  • Brendan Gallagher: $6.5M until 2026-27
  • Jeff Petry: $6.25M until 2024-25
  • Josh Anderson: $5.5M until 2026-27
  • Mike Hoffman: $4.5M until 2024-25
  • Christian Dvorak: $4.45M until 2024-25
  • David Savard: $3.5M until 2024-25
  • Joel Armia: $3.4M until 2024-25

Pending free agents

Here are the players scheduled to become free agents on July first, both unrestricted and restricted, including those in the minors. Also included is their salary at the NHL level.

UFA:

  • Ben Chiarot: $3.5M
  • Brett Kulak: $1.85M
  • Mathieu Perreault: $950,000
  • Cédric Paquette: $950,000
  • Chris Wideman: $750,000
  • Jean-Sébastien Dea: $750,000
  • Laurent Dauphin: $750,000
  • Alex Belzile: $750,000
  • Brandon Baddock: $750,000
  • Xavier Ouellet: $737,500

RFA:

  • Artturi Lehkonen: $2.3M
  • Alexander Romanov: $894,167
  • Cayden Primeau: $880,833
  • Josh Brook: $795,000
  • Arsen Khisamutdinov: $795,000
  • Joël Teasdale: $763,333
  • Michael Pezzetta: $750,000
  • Sami Niku: $750,000
  • Samuel Montembeault: $750,000
  • Lukas Vejdemo: $750,000
  • Louis Belpedio: $750,000
  • Corey Schueneman: $750,000
  • Michael McNiven: $750,000

Prospect Pool

While the Draft success was heavily criticized under Bergevin and mostly Trevor Timmins, the 2018 reset and new focus on player development seems to have vastly improved, although results should be felt in the next couple of years.

Kaiden Guhle

For example, Joshua Roy, Xavier Simoneau and Riley Kidney are all amongst the top scorers in the QMJHL. Kaiden Guhle, who looks like he will be traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings, was named captain of Team Canada Junior while Roy was invited to camp but didn’t quite make it. Ylönen is having a good season in Laval while several NCAA players are amongst the best in College hockey. You can see all of the Canadiens prospects as well as their up to date stats on Elite Prospects.

As you will notice on the link provided above, many of those young men are doing extremely well in their respective leagues, a clear sign of the potential and quality in the current prospect pool. If there’s one thing that this Bergevin regime seems to have done well, it’s drafting since the reset. The new management does have a very solid base to start building on.

2022 Draft

The NHL Draft will be held in Montreal on Thursday July 7 and Friday July 8, 2022. The Canadiens received the Carolina Hurricanes’ first round pick as part of the compensation for not matching the offer-sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi. They did however trade a first round pick to the Arizona Coyotes to acquire Christian Dvorak. Bergevin was smart enough to have the picks top-10 protected so it looks like the Canadiens will retain their own pick and Arizona will have to settle for Carolina’s first round pick.

So there you have it folks, a picture of what the Habs’ new management was left with by the Bergevin regime of nine plus years. As you can see, a full rebuild is likely not necessary as the former management group had started a reset, keeping its picks and focussing on drafting and development since 2018. The new group’s biggest challenge will be to decide which veterans to keep as a core, and to provide themselves some breathing room under the salary cap.

Note that there will be a part three to this full evaluation, focussing solely on the Draft and as you know, I like to be fair so it will be an evaluation relative to other teams too, so lots of research involved! Stay tuned…

More reading…

A Close Look At Bergevin’s Time In Montreal (part one)

The Bergevin Legacy by Bob Trask

Round Table – Martin St-Louis As Head Coach

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