It has not been a good off season to be a former Montreal Canadien looking for work. Sure, Mark Streit, Michael Ryder and Mike Ribeiro cashed in, but for most, having Montreal Canadien on their resume does not seem to be impressing General Managers.
Scott Gomez signed a one year deal with the Florida Panthers, and Mike Komisarek inked a similar contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, after being bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs. They will combine to make 1.8 million this upcoming season, but during the last 82 game season, they combined for a cap hit of slightly over 12 million.
Mikhail Grabovski started his career in Montreal before being dealt to the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. He was bought out of the final three years of a lucrative contract that would have seen him earn 5.5 million per season. He signed a one year deal with the Washington Capitals for 3 million, potentially missing out on more than 13 million over three years.
These were the lucky ones.
Several veteran NHLers that played for Montreal have packed up their gear and headed overseas to find a place to play next season.
Colby Amrstrong played one season with the Canadiens, and will suit up for the Vaxjo Lakers in Sweden next season. Armstrong will be facing off against Petteri Nokelainen in the Swedish Elite League. Nokelainen had a 51 game stint in Montreal, and signed with Brynas in Sweden.
A pair of offensive defensemen that once called Montreal home will be heading to Switzerland to continue their NHL careers. Chris Campoli and Marc Andre Bergeron could not convince an NHL team they were worth taking a risk on, and will be going head to head in the Swiss National League.
News this morning suggests that Tomas Kaberle’s days in the NHL are numbered. The smooth skating defenseman had a hard time defending his own end the past few seasons. Kaberle was relegated to press box duty much of the past season, before the Canadiens bought him out of the final year of his contract in June. A veteran of nearly 1000 NHL games, Tomas is rumored to be heading to the KHL this fall to continue his career.
At least these players have a place to play next season. There are plenty of former Habs still looking for a place to call home when the puck drops in a few short weeks.
Hal Gill, the towering defender has played over 1100 games, but was bought out of the final year by the Nashville Predators. Roman Hamrlik, similarly has played well over 1000 games, 1395 to be exact, finishing last season with the New York Rangers. The 39 year old is yet to announce his retirement, and is presumably still searching for a place to play.
Jeff Halpern, the two time Canadien showed he can still be relied on to win some faceoffs and kill penalties last season. However, he is yet to ink a deal for the upcoming season. The 37 year old has over 900 games of NHL experience, with six different franchises, and could still be an ideal fourth line center in the NHL.
Despite rumors he had signed on to play with the boston Bruins, the most recent Hab to win a Hart Trophy remains on the open market. Jose Theodore played the past two years with the Florida Panthers, and with 286 career wins, is one of the most seasoned goaltenders still on the market.
Guillaume Latendresse stormed onto the NHL scene as a 19 year old with the Canadiens in 2006. He had a hard time delivering on overwhelming expectations, and was ultimately dealt to the Minnesota Wild after three and a half inconsistent years in Montreal. Latendresse showed flashes of being a great power forward, but questionable skating, and an inability to be a consistent scorer have led to him being unsigned in late August at the age of 26.
The former Canadien who had the toughest offseason was Blake Geoffrion. Though he only played 13 games with the Habs, the prospect was forced to retire following a fractured skull suffered while playing at the Bell Centre for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Unfortunately Blake’s playing career was ended far too soon, but, he was hired as a scout by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
That is a lot of former members of the Canadiens, most of whom are having a tough go this summer. Perhaps if no one else is willing to sign them, it is for the best that the Canadiens have moved on from most of the aforementioned players.
Here’s hoping that Montreal’s management made the correct moves in the roster they did build for the upcoming season, and another successful campaign is right around the corner.