Over the summer the Montreal Canadiens will prepare for the 2022-23 season. There are a variety of paths they could follow from a complete dismantling of the team to sticking with the current roster with some tweaks. The sheer number of players the Habs are carrying means that some faces will no longer be with the team even if the path is to more or less stick with the current roster.
This approach might actually fit with vision of a gradual transition to a new identity. Many veterans would remain with the team at the start of the season to mentor some of the younger players on the team. As the season progressed as the performance of the team was monitored, some of these veterans could become available at next year’s trade deadline.
It would also allow Canadiens’ management to monitor the progress of new pros like Kaiden Guhle, Arber Xhekaj, Mattias Norlinder, Jan Mysak and Emil Heineman. Depending on how their development progressed one or more of these players could see some games with the Habs before the end of next season. If they showed well, that could free up a veteran for a potential trade on or before the deadline.
The goal with this approach would be to develop and monitor the progress of the younger players on the team while maximizing opportunities for trades later in the season that will benefit the team longer term. As always, salary cap considerations come into play. So let’s take a look.
Carey Price and Jake Allen
Combined cap hit ~$13,375,000
Left Defense – Alexander Romanov*, Joel Edmundson, Jordan Harris, Mattias Norlinder
Right Defense – Jeff Petry, Justin Barron, David Savard
Buyout – Karl Alzner
Combined cap hit (assuming a $3M bridge contract for Romanov) ~$19,700,000
Center – Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans, Ryan Poehling
Combined cap hit ~$14,800,000
Right Wing – Cole Caufield, Brendan Gallagher, Jesse Ylönen, Joel Armia
Combined cap hit ~$11,700,000
Left Wing – Josh Anderson, Jonathan Drouin, Rem Pitlick*, Paul Byron
Combined cap hit (assuming a $1.6M contract for Pitlick) ~$16,000,000
Extra Forward – Michael Pezzetta*, Tyler Pitlick
Combined cap hit (assuming a $850K contract for Pezzetta and a $1.5M contract for Pitlick ~$2,350,000
Missing the Cut
Players currently under contract with the Canadiens but not making this hypothetical roster include Shea Weber, Mike Hoffman, Matthieu Perreault, Laurent Dauphin, Kale Clague, Chris Wideman, William Lagesson, Sami Niku, Cedric Paquette, Corey Schueneman and a couple of others on the Laval roster.
In this scenario some players would be traded, others would not be offered contracts as they reached free agency status while still others could be offered two-way contracts.
Combined Cap Hit
For this hypothetical roster the combined cap hit would be ~$78,000,000 or comfortably under the cap limit. When you look at it in this light, Kent Hughes is not under immediate pressure to shed a large number of big contracts – pressure that could force him to take less than market value for a players like Petry or Drouin, for example.
It’s true that this lineup wouldn’t strike fear into the hearts of some of the elite opponents but the minor changes along with improved health (read fewer injuries) and fewer Covid related problems would bode well for a significant improvement over this year.
At the same time it creates at opportunity to make significant improvements during the season and lays the groundwork for a solid team deep in prospects well into the future.