Montreal Canadiens: Current Habs Most Likely To Be Selected By Seattle Kraken

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 11: Cale Fleury #20 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 11: Cale Fleury #20 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 4
Next
MONTREAL, QC – FEBRUARY 25: Paul Byron #41 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC – FEBRUARY 25: Paul Byron #41 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Habs can protect UFAs without officially putting them on protection list.

Protecting seven forwards, three defenders and a goalie is what most teams will do. If the Habs are to protect the best at each position, they are likely to lose Victor Mete. They could elect to protect four forwards and four defencemen, but that would mean losing a great young forward so it’s not likely to happen.

To this point, we have basically assumed the Canadiens are going to re-sign all of their pending free agents. This list includes Gallagher, Tatar, Danault, Armia and Petry. Maybe the Habs want to, and will, re-sign all of these players but the timing of those contracts could give the Canadiens additional protection in the expansion draft.

The expansion draft is going to happen after the 2020-21 season and shortly before the 2021 NHL Draft and free agency. So, if the Habs are creative and smart about this, they can protect all of their potential free agents without actually putting them on a protection list officially.

For example: let’s say Marc Bergevin approached Gallagher and offers him a handsome contract extension for six years and $6.5 million per season. Gallagher thinks it is fantastic because he wants to stay in Montreal forever and, well, that’s a lot of money.

Here is how the team can get creative. Instead of signing that contract right away, they can ask Gallagher to wait until after the expansion draft. Then, they don’t protect Gallagher in the expansion draft. Now, the Kraken have to choose between Mete, who is signed, or Gallagher who is a free agent six days after the draft (and already agreed to stay in Montreal, though Seattle technically wouldn’t know that). Then, even if Seattle takes Gallagher, he can just refuse to sign with them for a few days and return to Montreal when free agency opens.

There is some risk to this strategy for Montreal. It is possible that Seattle takes Gallagher, offers him a ridiculous amount of money, and he has a change of heart and signs with the Kraken. However, there is far more risk for Seattle who would be passing on Mete and could likely end up with nothing if Gallagher goes to free agency.

Imagine if the Habs use this strategy with all of their UFAs. Suddenly, they can essentially protect 11 forwards, four defenceman and Carey Price.

Their official protection list would then be: Drouin, Domi, Kotkaniemi, Byron, Lehkonen, Jake Evans and Charles Hudon up front with Gallagher, Tatar, Armia and Danault unprotected, but also unrestricted free agents a few days later. If they all have extensions with the Habs in their pockets, the Habs have essentially protected 11 forwards. Heck, they could even sign Tatar and Armia ahead of time and protect them instead of Evans or Hudon.

On defence, this could leave Petry unprotected, but also not an enticing piece for the Kraken. So, the Habs could officially protect Weber, Juulsen and Mete while also having a deal negotiated with Petry.

Next. Habs close to final playoff roster. dark

In this scenario, the Kraken would have their choice of either Cale Fleury or Ben Chiarot. They wouldn’t be interested at all in any forwards available to them, and aren’t likely to want Charlie Lindgren either. They would probably settle on Chiarot who would have one year left on his contract and could fetch them a decent return at the trade deadline.