By JD Lagrange – The Montreal Canadiens have some major cap space that will be freed up by July 1st through free agency alone. Between Sean Monahan, Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron, that’s over $15.3 million is cap space being off the books for Kent Hughes and his team.
But that’s not all. Trade will inevitably happen, as will contracts signatures, which will all affect the cap. But rest assured, Habs’ fans, there is plenty of room – and solutions – that will allow for this team to improve starting next season, without compromising the development of the Canadiens’ young players and prospects.
With that in mind, I decided to get my feet wet by predicting five moves that I’m expecting to happen during this off-season. Most will be completed by the NHL Draft, so we’re only a few weeks away. Without further ado, let’s get right into it, shall we?
1- Pierre-Luc Dubois
The Canadiens will acquire him via trade on or before the NHL Draft. They will sign him to an extension at around $8.5 million long term. I’ve recently provided a list of comparable players both in trade value and in salary cost, which you can refer to here. There is just too much smoke not to be fire with this situation.
Dubois is arguably the Jets’ best players in these playoffs and it’s hard to phantom someone still sticking to their guns and not wanting a 24 year-old, 6-foot 4-inches, 214 lbs center with his offensive skills, grit and wanting to play in Montreal. If I had to put odds on it, I’d say that I’m 95% convinced it will happen this summer.
Kent Hughes will acquire a goaltender under the age of 28 who will be on the Habs’ roster next season. Further, they will draft a goaltender using a second or third round pick to do so at the upcoming Draft. Of course, a decision will be made about Jake Allen, Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau, who will now have to clear waivers to be sent to Laval.
I have already addressed the relatively low cost of goaltenders through trades, and provided in that article a list of five potential candidates.
3- Joel Edmundson
I was hesitant about putting him here as it could go either ways. But I think that he will end up being traded this off-season. My hesitation stems from the fact that keeping him, if he stays healthy, would likely fetch more at trade deadline from a playoffs’ contender. But when I look at Matheson, Guhle, Xhekaj, Harris, Struble on the left side, it is rather congested. So getting less this summer is a small price to pay when you’re freeing up his cap hit and giving the ice to the young, capable guys. Leadership-wise, you still have Savard and Matheson back there. This off-season trade seems to be the more likely option.
4- Mike Hoffman
They will try trading Hoffman early on this off-season, even offer to retain salary in the process. But if they’re unsuccessful, I have little doubt that Hughes and his team will decide to buy him out. Either way, he has played his last game for the Canadiens… in my opinion. Here’s is the cap implication for doing so:
|SEASON||BASE SALARY||CAP HIT||BUYOUT CAP HIT|
5- Christian Dvorak
For a while, I thought that maybe Josh Anderson would be sacrificed and be sent to Winnipeg for Dubois and that may still happen. But I’m no longer as convinced that it will be necessary. The Canadiens clearly love Andy and he has expanded his game this season.
Instead, I think that Dvorak will be traded to free up salary for Dubois. Whether he’s heading to Winnipeg in the Dubois deal, or be part of another trade, remains to be seen. But with Suzuki, Dach, Evans and now Dubois in the line-up, Dvorak would become redundant and expensive… although his faceoffs’ ability would be missed.
So if I’m right and the above-mentioned events do happen, the Canadiens would free up just under $28 million in cap space in the process.
If they resign Caufield at about the same amount as Nick Suzuki is making ($7.875M), and sign Pierre-Luc Dubois at $8.5M cap hit, that would be adding $16.375M, they would still be $11 million ahead of last year. The Canadiens would be at around $72 million in cap hit, and I’ve allocated $1.2 million each for RFAs Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylönen in there. This would leave them about $10 million to acquire a goaltending upgrade, not counting any salary going back the other way.
So what do you think? How “off” or “on point” are those predictions in your opinion? Do you have better ones? Leave them in the comments and we’ll discuss…