The Montreal Canadiens dealt away several veterans at the trade deadline. Whenever free agency hits, they could be looking for some depth down the middle. Who could they target?
The Montreal Canadiens have not been using up all of their cap space the last few years. We don’t know if they plan on spending up to the cap this offseason, or what the cap will even be. However, they are always active in free agency, whether they can haul in a big target or not.
General Manager Marc Bergevin has been criticized by some fans over the years for targeting far too many fourth line type players. However, we saw this season the importance of depth. The Habs started the season well but as soon as a few injuries hit, they couldn’t keep up with the rest of the Eastern Conference and plummeted down the standings.
Once a few players went down with injury, the Habs had no one capable of filling the void, even for a short period of time. They tried 21 different forwards in their 71 games this season, but couldn’t find the right combination that would keep them afloat in the playoff race.
So, I think it is obvious we will see the Habs dip their toe into free agency. They traded a handful of veterans at the trade deadline when Ilya Kovalchuk, Nate Thompson, Nick Cousins and Matthew Peca were shipped out for a variety pack of draft picks. Those players played small roles on the Habs, but they will need to be replaced heading into next season.
Yesterday, we took a look at five wingers the Habs could target in free agency to fill some of these roles. Today, we are taking a look at five centres they could look to sign this offseason, whenever that is.
Centre is going to be an interesting position to keep an eye on for the Canadiens next season. They could be really deep if Phillip Danault, Max Domi, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki and Ryan Poehling all play up to their potential.
However, what if Domi struggles at centre like he did this season at times? What if Poehling and Kotkaniemi prove not to be quite ready for a top nine role in the NHL yet. What if Suzuki takes a step back after a promising rookie year like Kotkaniemi just did?
It would be wise for the Habs to have some insurance down the middle. They don’t need to break the bank and sign the highest priced centre on the market. But it would be a good idea to add some depth so that the younger players are not rushed into a prominent role.
Let’s take a look at five players who fit the description of what the Canadiens will be looking for at centre this year.