Montreal Canadiens: Which Unrestricted Free Agents Would Habs Be Pursuing Today?

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 08: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 08: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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The Montreal Canadiens will have cap space when the offseason hits. Which free agents would they be targeting today if it was free agent frenzy?

The Montreal Canadiens have not been a major player in free agency for many years. July 1 is normally free agent frenzy day in the NHL, and we see players signing new contracts (usually worth too much money and for too long) for new teams. But the Habs haven’t beed the busiest team on this day in the past.

This summer, July 1 is not free agent frenzy day, since the NHL is still putting the finishing touches on their plan to return to action after being paused for nearly four months. This year, free agency will take place sometime in October.

However, we thought it would be fun to take a look at who could be in the free agent waters this year and which players might be a good fit for the Canadiens.

Again, the Habs haven’t been the busiest team on this day in the past, especially since Marc Bergevin took over as general manager in 2012. Last year, we saw the Habs sign Keith Kinkaid and Riley Barber on July 1. The year before it was a plethora of depth options like Matthew Peca, Kenny Agostino, Michael Chaput and Xavier Ouellet. Tomas Plekanec also returned after playing a handful of games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

July 1, 2017 was one of the rare times Bergevin spent big money on Canada Day and it backfired big time. He landed Karl Alzner on a five year contract that will see him earn $4.625 million per year to play four of the five seasons in the minor leagues. He also signed Peter Holland, Byron Froese, Matt Taormina and Joe Morrow that afternoon.

The year before that he did well landing Alexander Radulov from the KHL on a one-year contract that proved to be a bargain. In 2015 it was Mark Barberio and Bud Holloway coming to Montreal. His biggest signings before that were Daniel Briere in 2013 and Tom Gilbert in 2014.

So, Bergevin has been pretty cautious with his money on the biggest spending day of the year for general managers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when you consider how many of these contracts look terrible just a few years into the future.

Still, with plenty of cap space to use this summer, you know there would be plenty of rumours swirling about the Canadiens and free agents. Some would be pie in the sky type stuff and some would be more realistic.

Let’s take a look at the three players that would most likely have signed in Montreal if free agency began today like it usually does: