The Montreal Canadiens were pretty quiet as free agency opened earlier today. They were not expected to be big players on the open market, and they held true to that prediction.
They signed a couple of players that will help out their minor league affiliates by securing Phillip Maillet and Brady Keeper for next season. They also traded Joel Edmundson to the Washington Capitals for third and seventh round picks which opens up a roster spot for a younger player.
They can be expected to continue to follow the same path for the duration of the offseason. They lost a lot of veteran players off the Laval Rocket roster, and could use a couple more additions to help out the farm team. They could also trim the roster of a few more veterans to continue the youth movement, but that will not prove to be easy.
Looking around the league, there is not much money to go around. Teams just don’t have the cap space to add a veteran player and take on their salary. We saw Taylor Hall and Anthony Duclair traded for next to nothing, Ryan Johansen dealt for nothing and Kevin Hayes was moved for one of the last picks in the NHL Draft.
The fact the Canadiens got as much as they did for Edmundson was pretty impressive. Continuing to move out veterans may not be as smooth.
One player who it would make sense to deal is Christian Dvorak, but that just became a little more difficult as well. Not only is he still owed $4.45 million for the next two seasons but he also just had some no-trade protection kick in on his contract. Starting today, July 1, 2023, Dvorak has a modified no-trade clause where he submits a list of eight teams where he will not accept a trade.
If he really doesn’t want to be traded, he can make it really difficult as he could just not include teams that have no need for a center at this time and not include teams that have the cap space to take on his contract. Then, if he adds the eight teams most likely to trade for him, there may not be a fit left out there for the Canadiens if they decide they want to trade him.
With Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach, Alex Newhook, Sean Monahan and Jake Evans on the roster along with Dvorak, there isn’t enough room for all of them to play center. Trading Dvorak would make sense, but the no-trade clause will make it more difficult to move him now.
Jake Allen also has some no-trade protection added to his contract today. He seems less likely to be a trade candidate but with Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau in the system, it might make sense to test the market on Allen. He has two years left on his contract with a cap hit of $3.85 million so perhaps he is a bit too pricey to be a backup elsewhere anyway.
He also now has a seven team no-trade list that he will submit to the team today. It would be easy for him to include the only teams that could absorb his cap hit and have a need in goal and make it almost impossible to be dealt this season.
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