Top 5 free agent forwards the Canadiens should pursue in the 2024 offseason

The Montreal Canadiens won’t have a ton of cap space in the offseason, so big-name free agents at forward won’t come to Quebec, but a few will fit the franchise’s budget.
Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers
Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Casey Mittelstadt would further weaken a division rival

Thanks to his performance so far with the Colorado Avalanche, pending restricted free agent Casey Mittelstadt could find himself back in a burgundy uniform next season. But here’s the kicker: Colorado isn’t faring too well in cap space, themselves, plus they have 10 pending free agents and star players Mikko Rantanen and Alexandar Georgiev eligible for extensions. 

Ultimately, what happens with Mittelstadt depends on what general manager Chris MacFarland decides to prioritize. If it’s Ranaten and Georgiev, it could mean Mittelstadt, whose next contract may range between $4.5 and $5.5 million for at least three years, goes elsewhere. 

There is hardly a chance he returns to the Canadiens division rival, the Buffalo Sabres, as they would have just extended rather than trading him for Bowen Byram. So that would leave him to land with his third team in a calendar year should MacFarland decide not to extend a qualifying offer, showing that he would have been nothing more than a rental. 

But Mittelstadt is still young and productive, with 56 points and 18 goals in 77 games. Sure, he’s fit well with the Avalanche, but cap space and priorities will ultimately decide if he remains in Denver.