Montreal Canadiens: Getting closer to the contract threshold

REGINA, SK - MAY 20: Cale Fleury #4 of Regina Pats passes the puck against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan at Brandt Centre - Evraz Place on May 20, 2018 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
REGINA, SK - MAY 20: Cale Fleury #4 of Regina Pats passes the puck against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan at Brandt Centre - Evraz Place on May 20, 2018 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens have flexibility in terms of cap space, but they’re getting awfully close to that 50-contract maximum.

It’ll be another September with the Montreal Canadiens having a decent amount of cap space. They’re currently sitting on $7.8 million, nearly $800,000 less than management had going into last season. Michael McCarron and Kerby Rychel may bring that space to around $6 million depending on what their next contracts are.

Both could choose to accept their qualifying offers of $874,125, but the hold up on a new deal probably implies there’s a push for more salary. That said, there’s no way either make more than $900,000 which both Nicolas Deslauriers and Jacob de La Rose signed for.

That’s not the number the Habs should pay attention to. It’s the number 48. Once McCarron and Rychel are signed, the Montreal Canadiens will be two contracts shy of the 50-limit. Additionally, Simon Desprès could receive a deal if he proves that he can fit and succeed within an NHL lineup again at training camp.

The only other teams within that realm are the Tampa Bay Lighting (48), San Jose Sharks (48), and Arizona Coyotes (50). The Chicago Blackhawks are up there as well at 47 which may require some detailed manoeuvring if that proves to be the spot for Max Pacioretty.

Related Story: Pacioretty is the Better Trade Acquisition

It’s not an immediate issue, but definitely, one that the Habs will want to keep in mind. Future trades may fall victim to that same contract limit. Say for example there’s a multi-player trade that involves Pacioretty who also want to shed salary in the process. The Montreal Canadiens can make the money work, but the player count could be an issue.

Reducing the Total

Montreal is going to be in a position next season where draft picks have value. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a handful of ‘player for pick’ deals. The trades for Torey Mitchell and Al Montoya proved to be valuable as they became Allan McShane and Jack Gorniak respectively (after some dealings with Edmonton).

Players such as Jordie Benn and David Schlemko have the potential to be moved for picks. Benn has a greater chance of gathering more value in return thanks to his low cap hit of $1.1 million. On the flip side, the term and AAV of Schlemko’s deal may make it a harder contract to move.

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Another way method would be to make a trade with a team who has space contract wise but is close to the cap ceiling. The Detroit Red Wings come to mind. They have 41 contracts on the books but a little over $2.8 million in space.

Unfortunately, clearing money on Red Wings will be tough seeing as how their big-ticket guys have no-trade clauses. Jimmy Howard is entering the final year of his contract that will see him make $5,291,666. Perhaps general manager Ken Holland decides to move on from it at some point in the season.

The Habs already have Antti Niemi and Charlie Lindgren as backup options, so acquiring another goaltender wouldn’t make too much sense. But if Detroit sweetens the pot a little bit while also allowing Bergevin to rid himself of some names, it could be a worthwhile possibility.

There’s still a lot of time left until the 2018-19 season is set to begin. The Montreal Canadiens could wait until next season when they have other contracts coming off the books, but some players will need deals before then. Josh Brook, Cale Fleury, Scott Walford, and Jake Tyszka need contracts by June 1st of 2019 for the Habs to retain their rights.

If nothing changes, signing two of them put Montreal at the 50-contract limit.

Next: Five Forward Fighting for a Spot

In some respects, the managerial aspect of the NHL is the most interesting. Bergevin and the rest of his staff will have some decisions to make in the upcoming months. Players who he’s spent time negotiating with or acquiring could possibly be on their way out.

Acknowledgements: Information from Capfriendly.