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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Kaapo Kakko may not have done enough to justify staying in New York

Kaapo Kakko would have been an excellent ‘buy’ at the trade deadline, but March 8th came and went, and the former second-overall pick stayed with the organization that drafted him. But with 19 points in 58 contests as the NHL season heads into its final full week, you can’t help but wonder whether this is it for Kakko in New York City. 

Like Mittelstadt, Kakko is another player who will be a restricted free agent, so the Rangers can easily retain him. But he’s taken a step back, and for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations, general manager Chris Drury will be considering all options before seeking to bring back Kakko. 

Should Drury decide to let him walk, Kakko would likely become nothing more than a bottom-six player after having failed to play regular top-line minutes since he first entered the league in 2019-20. But, depth will be important for this Canadiens team as the younger players with the big club take on even larger roles if they haven’t yet done so. 

Kakko is at least proven enough to play such a role, and for a team still in its building phase, why shouldn’t general manager Kent Hughes look to bring him in on a one-to-two-year bridge deal? At this point, his presence wouldn’t hurt and could very well help the Canadiens.