The Montreal Canadiens look set to add some names to their roster as several players enter free agency.
Veteran blueliner Andrei Markov was offered a three-year deal last week, but it came at a cost. James Wisniewski, who impressed for Montreal in Markov’s absence last season, will not suit up for the Habs next season. Instead, he is expected to negotiate a contact with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Montreal’s blue line has begun to take shape, but offensively there is room to bring in some fresh blood. If Jaromir Jagr cannot agree a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, his agent has indicated he will meet with Montreal and the Detroit Red Wings. With Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez all on the books next season, Montreal General Manager Pierre Gauthier will still have some cap space to bring in a top-six forward.
With Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais given contracts for next season, a couple more names could give Montreal its most competitive roster for years. But who could Montreal potentially sign when free-agency kicks in? Following Wisniewski’s departure and Roman Hamrlik turning down a one-year deal, Montreal should have around $8 million in cap space to play with once players such as Ryan White are offered new deals. Yannick Weber has also signed a two-year contract with the Habs.
Instead of bringing in one big name such as Brad Richards, Montreal need a top defenseman and a physical scorer. Gauthier would jump at the chance to bring in Jagr, but the Czech would prefer to return to Pittsburgh. The 39-year-old is also a big risk following three years playing in the Russian KHL.
If the Pens do sign Jagr, a Penguins forward could be on the way to Montreal. Tyler Kennedy and Michael Rupp have been linked, but the Canadiens have remained tight-lipped. Whoever Montreal pick up will need to have proved themselves statistically in the past. Some Montreal fans are calling for Scott Gomez to be traded, but this will not happen.
Gomez needs a big season next year, and with some gifted line-mates added he may be in luck. The Montreal management have been very busy since their team was dumped out of the playoffs by the Stanley Cup champions. July will be a tough test for Gauthier in his second off-season at the helm of the Canadiens.
With wild rumors circulating about Jagr, Alex Kovalev and even Steven Stamkos, all that matters is who Montreal actually sign. If Gauthier picks well, Montreal can be confident going into the new season.