Canadiens: What You Need to Know For Free Agency

Nov 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin speaks at a press conference before the game against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin speaks at a press conference before the game against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

The NHL Draft is over and now the Canadiens will turn their attention to free agency.

The Canadiens did very well at the 2016 NHL draft. They got good value when they traded Lars Eller to Washington. Marc Bergevin added a gritty forward in Andrew Shaw in a trade with the Blackhawks. And the Canadiens drafted a potential top pairing defender in Mikhail Sergachev.

All in all, it was a good weekend for the Canadiens. However, the team is not quite done yet. The NHL is currently in it’s free agent negotiation phase as teams prepare for July 1st. The Canadiens are likely talking with various free agents as we speak.

With free agency just 4 days away, here is what you need to know before the gong show starts.

Salary Cap Situation

Committed: $60.43 million

Projected Space: $12.56 million

Current Roster


Max PaciorettyAlex GalchenyukBrendan Gallagher

??? – Tomas Plekanec – ???

Phillip Danault(RFA) – David Desharnais – Andrew Shaw(RFA)

Paul ByronTorrey MitchellBrian Flynn

Extra – Sven Andrighetto, Stefan Matteau, Daniel Carr(RFA)

More from A Winning Habit


Andrei MarkovP.K. Subban

Alexei EmelinJeff Petry

Nathan BeaulieuGreg Pateryn

Extra – Mark Barberio


Carey Price

Mike Condon

Near NHL Ready Prospects

G Charlie Lindgren, LW Jacob de La Rose, C/RW Michael McCarron, LW Artturi Lehkonen, LW Martin Reway, D Tom Parisi, D Brett Lernout, LW Charles Hudon,

Notable Free Agents

UFA: Mike Brown, Tom Gilbert, Ben Scrivens, Victor Bartley, John Scott, Gabriel Dumont, Lucas Lessio, Darren Dietz

RFAMichael Bournival

Team Needs

The Canadiens need to add some scoring into their top 6 if they want to be viewed as a contender again. As it stands right now, the team is set to heavily rely on the top line and that is not a recipe for success.

Every contender in the East has at least two lines that can consistently produce offence. Adding Shaw may help but he is more of a 3rd line player than a 2nd liner. With two glaring holes on the 2nd line, the Canadiens may need to get creative to add that much needed secondary scoring.

Elsewhere, the team may want to look into adding some more defensive depth. Last year, the Canadiens used 15 defencemen because of injuries. Odds are the team won’t see that many injuries again but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Mark Barberio is a very good 7th defender but beyond him, the Canadiens are thin with just Joel Hanley, Brett Lernout, Ryan Johnston and Tom Parisi. Bringing back Morgan Ellis could go a long way in strengthening the team’s depth.

Free Agent Targets

Free Agency can be a huge risk to NHL GM’s. Marc Bergevin has not been overly active when it comes to established free agents. Entering his 5th off-season as Canadiens GM, Bergevin’s and it could be the most pivotal of his tenure.

With two clear holes on the 2nd line, Bergevin may need to add at least one marquee free agent to help carry the offensive load. The top candidates the Canadiens could pursue include Steven Stamkos, Kyle Okposo, Milan Lucic, David Backes, Andrew Ladd, Loui Eriksson, Mikkel Boedker and Troy Brouwer. These players are set to be the most sought after and expensive players on the free agent market.

Short of those 8 players, the Canadiens could also pursue names like Eric Staal, Thomas Vanek, Radim Vrbata, Teddy Purcell, Kris Versteeg, Jiri Hudler, David Perron, Jamie McGinn or Chris Stewart. These secondary names are not what they used to be and have declined in various areas of their game but are still bigger names on the market. These players could be had on smaller and shorter term contracts, which make them ideal candidates for GM’s who do not want to handcuff future roster decisions.

Next: Habs: Analyzing the Eller and Shaw Trades

Final Thoughts

With just over $12.5 million in available cap space as of this moment. That number is going to likely decrease prior to July 1st if Shaw, Carr and Danault sign. Shaw could be seeing a new salary in the $3.5-$4 million per season. Carr and Danault are likely going to be around $1.8 million combined.

With those three signed, the Canadiens are likely looking at closer to $6.5 million in cap space. If Bergevin chooses to chase a big fish, he’ll need to move salary out before the season starts.

It’ll be interesting to see how Bergevin tackles free agency and how he looks to fill the Canadiens scoring needs.