The Montreal Canadiens offseason heavylifting has begun with a few contract extensions already being put in place. One of them was a minor move, but the team already made one huge commitment to one of their core players.
Michael Pezzetta signed a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $812,500. The gritty winger has worked his way up to become a regular on the NHL roster, though he plays a fourth line role and does still sit as the occasional healthy scratch. His hard work, easygoing nature and physical style make him an ideal 13th forward for the Canadiens for the next two seasons.
The big contract went to Cole Caufield. The young sniper signed an eight-year contract extension that comes with a cap hit of $7.85 million. The 22 year old winger has scored at nearly a 50 goal pace since Martin St. Louis was hired as the team’s head coach and will look to put it all together over a full season in 2023-24 after suffering an injury last season.
With the calendar still pointing at the middle of June, there is a lot of work left to do before the puck drops on 2023-24. The Canadiens have become a much younger team in the past few years with the departures of Carey Price, Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Corey Perry, Jeff Petry, Tyler Toffoli, Artturi Lehkonen, Tomas Tatar and Brett Kulak.
Still, there are a few more veterans who could be moved out to make room for younger players. The Canadiens do not need to make the playoffs in 2024, but they need to start to figure out what some of their older prospects are capable of doing at the NHL level before they become eligible for waivers.
So, what veteran players should the Canadiens be looking to move out this offseason? Let’s take a look at the top three.