Mar 27, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Montreal Canadiens right wing Mike Blunden (45) skates with the puck against Florida Panthers during the first period at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE

Montreal Candiens Drop RFAs: Nokelainen, Blunden and Others Not Qualified

Today was the deadline for teams to submit qualifying offers to RFA players. This process gives an initial contract offering according to standardized rates to RFA players which they may accept or reject and then negotiate a new deal. Failling to qualify players results in their team losing exclusive rights over them and the players becoming unrestricted free agents on July 1st.

The following players in the Canadiens organizations were not qualified and their rights were released.

Petteri Nokelainen

Mike Blunden

Hunter Bishop

Andrew Conboy

Olivier Fortier

Dany Masse

Mark Mitera

Robert Slaney

Mike Blunden and Petteri Nokelainan were disappointments as poor options for bottom sixth depth this last season. As replaceable parts its doubtful they will be missed. The rest are AHL/ECHL players that were part of a lack luster Hamilton team. They will be likely be replaced by new professional prospects from CHL/NCAA as well as new organization depth signings. The most notable AHL player dropped is Andrew Conboy who some were seeing as a potential future enforcer/tough guy for the big club.

This also frees 8 contract spots from the 50 contract limit to pursue new players, coincidentally the same number of new prospects already signed for next year (Gallagher, Holland, Bournival, Ellis, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Quailer and Pateryn).

All other RFA’s were qualified except for Carey Price, whose QO was made unnecessary by club-elected arbitration.

Top AHL/NHL tweener players Engqvist, Palushaj, Geoffrion, St. Denis and Nash were all qualified. Speculation is out there that Engqvist may return to Sweden but most sources agree that he would prefer to remain in North America and making the NHL is his primary goal.

Montreal currently stands at 41 contracts, leaving 9 spots open. Two UFA players are reasonably likely to be re-signed in Darche and Moen and one spot may be left open for Alex Galchenyuk if he proves NHL ready right away. So the Canadiens will have space to add about 6 new players to the organization in Montreal or Hamilton by free agency. This includes both NHL free agents and prospects signed from amateur or European professional leagues.

Tags: Andreas Engqvist Carey Price Habs 2012 Off-season Mike Blunden Petteri Nokelainan RFAs

  • Olivier

    Engqvist? I admit I had writtent him off, but then again… Most bottom-6 players need a few cup of coffee before they really figure out the league, so one has to wonder about that current crop.

    Nash just didn’t play, so we have to wait one more year to see what he’s up to. Geoffrion looked way too slow by my eye and not that good at anything in particular; Engqvist too, actually… I tought Palushaj actually looked like he was figuring the league out in the latter part of the season; he does have speed and some hockey sense so who knows? I believe St-Denis will either make the team right from the start or push someone out by november. He doesn’t have Weber or Khaberle’s offensive acumen but is far more versatile and brings a skillset more complimentary of what the big 3 + Diaz/Emelin will deliver.

    I’m really eager to see what they do on july 1st.

  • Stephan Cooper

    At the very least that’s the top 5 man unit of the Hamilton Bulldogs and the first callups at every position. Nash was almost as well recieved the year before as St. Denis was this season I recall. Having Hamilton players that can play NHL hockey even if they aren’t great at it is important for avoiding being killed by injuries.

    These would be the guys that a Holland-Bournival-Gallagher line or Beaulieu-Ellis pairing would be sheltered behind in Hamilton at least.

  • Olivier

    “These would be the guys that a Holland-Bournival-Gallagher line or Beaulieu-Ellis pairing would be sheltered behind in Hamilton at least.”

    Well, I call that progress.